Today, depression is known as the “common cold” of emotional ills. One out of every four people in America suffers chronic depression. The leading medications sold in America have to do with stress reduction and depression reduction. Some people struggle with depression because of a chemical imbalance or a physiological problem, but for most people, it is really more of an emotional ill.
As we examine a chapter in the life of Elijah, let’s take a look at killing the giant of depression. Let’s take a closer look at four causes of depression that are evident in his story and in our lives …
Four Causes of Depression
1. A Feeling of No Options Remaining
When you come to the end of your rope, many times you’ll feel you don’t have any options; you will feel like a prisoner to your circumstances. Then depression and its consequences become a welcome escape:
“He [Elijah] came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said, ‘take my life’” (1 Kings. 19:4).
It got so bad for Elijah that he gave into depression. You never want to do that because depression is like an enemy – once you give up and give into it, you become a victim to its consequences. Then you feel like a prisoner, as if there are no options. There are always options.
2. A Lack of Proper Rest
“Then he laid down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He ate and drank and then laid down again” (1 Kings 19:5-7).
The angel was simply saying, “You need nourishment and rest.”
We as God’s people, live in a society that runs on empty. We have no margins in our lives and we become susceptible to depression.
God had Elijah rest. And for some of you, the most spiritual thing you can do is go to sleep.
3. Drifting From Our Basic Identity
“I shall always be ready to remind you of these things even though you already know them and have been established in the truth and I consider it right to stir you up by way of reminder” (2 Pet. 2:12).
Many times the reason we drift from who we are, our identity, isn’t because we don’t know who we are, but because we forget and need to be reminded.
God has a basic calling on our life, but it’s easy to get depressed when you lose your way. We forget that we are here for but a moment and our whole purpose is to represent the Kingdom of God to lost people.
4. A Feeling of No Support
It’s not that you don’t have any support; rather, it’s just a feeling of no support.
Elijah felt like he had no support, yet he had just completed a fantastic miracle and gained the rousing support of God’s people.
Now that we’ve identified the evasive monster of depression, let’s look next at some cures.
God’s Cure for Depression
1. Learn to Forget and Learn to Rebuild
This principle is so important – to make a consistent, conscientious choice to forget and rebuild. You must forget yesterday; don’t kill tomorrow with yesterday’s problems.
2. Speak the Truth of God’s Word to Yourself
How many of you talk to yourself? King David actually talked to himself. He talked to his own soul:
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Ps. 42:5).
David actually spoke to himself. Do you know what the Bible says? It says to “speak God’s truths, His promises, to yourself.” That’s why it’s so important to memorize the Word. Combat your dark thoughts with His promises. And conquer negative views about yourself and your life with His thoughts, which are higher than yours.
3. Abandon Yourself Completely to Jesus Christ
God asks every one of us to do that. When you’re going through depression, I want you to know that God cares.
If you’ll give your heart completely to Jesus, you will find that He has a plan for you. The Bible says, “A broken and contrite heart God will never despise” (Ps. 51:17).
If you’re going through depression, you have not run out of options because His embrace is waiting for you. Even though some stuff is broken down in your life, never despise anything that takes you to the Cross because herein lies the answer:
“I know the plans that God has for you. Not plans for your calamity but for your welfare, that you might have a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).