Elijah’s Depression - Page 3
by John Lowe
3) Get Life Back in Perspective
The third thing that helped Elijah was to get life back in perspective. He felt that God had forsaken him and that he alone remained faithful to the Lord. His reasoning went something like this: "Here I am, doing my best to serve the Lord and look what happened. God has forsaken me. I alone am left. It's me against the world."
Depressed people often feel like that. They have problems because they pay more attention to negative events than to positive ones, focus on immediate rather than the long-term consequences of behavior, are overly hard on themselves, attribute success to outside forces and failure to their own deficiencies, and in general reward themselves too little and punish themselves too much.
Unfortunately, Elijah had arrived at the wrong conclusions. So at that point, the Lord chose to reveal just how warped and distorted his view of things had become.
Ultimately all depression can be traced back to some distorted view of life. In Elijah's case, he had a distorted view of himself and a distorted view of God. He needed to know that God was there and that there were others who had not bowed to Baal.
First, God reveals Himself to Elijah in a new and fresh way. He sent a tremendous wind, a cyclone, that ripped through the mountain. But God was not in the wind. Then God sent an earthquake that shook the whole mountain; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, He sent fire and lightning, but God was not in the fire.
Then there came a still small voice through which God spoke to Elijah. The Hebrew expression "still small voice" literally means "a voice of low whispers, a sound of gentle stillness."
Elsewhere in the Old Testament, wind and lightning and earthquakes are often associated with God. They are ways that He manifests Himself to us. Yet here God speaks to Elijah in a voice of low whispers.
It is as if God is saying, "Just because I have not spoken to you as I have to others in days gone by, doesn't mean I am not here." Though God was silent, He was not absent. Though Jezebel was thundering, she was not in control. God was quietly going about His work. We need to remember that.
Following World War II there was found on the wall of a basement in Germany these words:
"I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I can't feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent."
God is the God of wonders but He is also the God of whispers. Elijah not only needed a new perspective of God, he needed a new perspective of himself. He thought he was the only one who was still faithful to God. God had to remind him that He had seven thousand prophets who had not yet bowed their knee to Baal. In fact, God had already chosen Elijah's successor and He commanded him to go and anoint Elisha for this work.
Elijah thought he was more important than he really was. He thought everything depended on him. We sometimes feel the same way. Listen, if God's work depends solely on you and me, God is in serious trouble.
When I become overly impressed with my own importance I remember what I read recently: "If all the preachers and all the garbage collectors quit at once, which would you miss first?"
Then I try to remember what would happen if a group of women were playing bridge one afternoon, and the phone rang, and the lady of the house was told, "Have you heard the news, Paul Powell just died." When she broke the news to her bridge partners one of them would probably say, "Oh, that's a shame. He was such a nice man. I really liked him ... whose bid is it?"
Keep life in perspective. We can't take God's work too seriously, but we sure can take ourselves too seriously. None of us is indispensable. The workmen die but the work goes on.
4) Get Back in The Mainstream
Fourth, Elijah got back into the mainstream of life and went to work again. God allowed Elijah to sit in the dark cave of self-pity just so long. Then He told him to get up and get busy again. There was a new king of Israel and a new prophet to be anointed. The time for complaints and self-pity were over; Elijah now needed to get back to work. He needed the tonic of a new task.
With us, as with Elijah, the best way to quit feeling sorry for ourselves is to start feeling compassion for somebody else.
The great psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger was once asked by a Tucson, Arizona newspaper reporter, "Suppose you think you're heading for a nervous breakdown. What should you do?"
Most of us would have expected the great psychiatrist to say, "See a psychiatrist." But he didn't. Instead, his reply was, "Go straight to the front door, turn the knob, cross the tracks and find somebody who needs you."
Don't sit around in isolation. Don't get all wrapped up in yourself. Don't have your own pity party for too long. Get up and get back in the mainstream of life working for God and His kingdom. In helping others, we help ourselves.
By these means Elijah whipped his depression and went on to the lifetime of useful service. In fact, he ultimately closed out his ministry in a blaze of glory as God swept down on him and carried him into heaven in a whirlwind and a chariot of fire. Thank God we can do the same.
There’s one more thing I want to say—you can do all four things, but it is more important to pray, and pray and pray again. Ask others to pray for you. Don’t be ashamed of your depression. Only those who choose to sit under the Juniper tree and ignore their problem should be ashamed. "May those dark days make us tender enough to keep focusing on Him."