Battling Depression

May we work for the Lord and not for human masters wherever we may be. What we are serving are not human masters, but Jesus Christ. May this be something to ponder on during those times when we lose faith and we grow weary in our work for God.
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Read: 1 Kings 18:46 - 1 Kings 19:4

You and I are surrounded by lonely people

Sadness. No one is immune to it. Rich or poor, single or married, cadet or captain, all of us are prone to depression.

Even Godly men, those who served God and was used by Him to perform miracles experienced this. One person that came to mind was the Prophet Elijah.

Who is Elijah? He was:

1. The one who prayed for three and a half years drought to punish King Ahab and Israel

2. God performed a miracle through him to supply a poor widow with flour and oil

3. Prayed to God to resurrect the widow’s dead son

4. Prayed for fire to come down to heaven not only to his offering, but also to the prophets of Baal and Asherah

Such a godly man, yet still very human like us according to James 5:17. He himself felt loneliness and despair. How? Let’s look at the story in 1 Kings 18:46 to 19:4

After hearing what Jezebel planned for him through a messenger, Elijah made 4 wrong steps which led him to despair.

1. Elijah exhausted himself physically. (19:2-4)

Imagine this with me, by this time tomorrow, you will die. Who will not be afraid, right? And just like us humans, Elijah, the great Prophet of God, became afraid. Afraid enough to run approximately (according to some Bible scholars) 100 miles from Jezreel to Beersheba, plus a day’s worth more distance, before stopping. 

How about us? What do we do in the face of something that causes fear and anxiety to us? Me, to be honest, I usually try to ran away from it, upon realizing that it is too much to handle. But have we forgotten that the God that we serve is far bigger than the mountains that we face on a daily basis? According to Matthew 17:20, that to have faith as large as a mustard seed is enough to move mountains. Nothings is too big for God. Nothing is impossible with him. Let’s stop running from the problem, but to run to God Himself.

2. Elijah became upset emotionally. (19:3)

He became afraid. Who will not be afraid for their lives? Do you know that emotions leads to thoughts, thoughts leads to decisions, decisions determines our behavior and behavior shapes our relationships with others? So if the first emotion that comes to you is fear, imagine what the thoughts, decisions, behaviors and effects in the relationship with people will be. But this shouldn’t be the norm. In 2 Cor. 10:5, we have to capture every thought and make it obedient to Christ, not let our thoughts control what happens in our lives. Kaya our emotions are valid, we are human after all. But what matters is how we think of our situation in light of who God is in our life.

3. Elijah failed to turn to God spiritually

He failed to see who God is in his situation despite the fact that God used him to do all of those great and mighty things. He failed to see God in the proper perspective. How about us? When we have problems, what is our default? Isn't it to look for a solution on our own instead of praying to God about it? Prayer should not be the last option. Remember what I said about God using Elijah to do miracles? Elijah wasn’t able to do it on his own, but only through God’s might hand. Let’s be reminded of the humility that Paul showed while he was in prison, another depressing place to be, yet he was full of hope! Phil. 4:13 says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It’s not by our own strength, but only through Jesus who gives us the strength to do whatever it is that God has called us to do.

4. Elijah isolated himself socially (19:3)

He left his servant at Beersheba. Maybe the reason is to protect him; maybe to delay those who pursue him. Whatever the reason is, he chose to be alone during that depressing time. How about us? Do we keep to ourselves the problems that we face? 

I know that live on board is hard. It's hard when there is no internet communications that leads to communication gap. But that shouldn’t stop us from being accountable and open to our family and friends. Specially for men, we have this wrong mindset that we are not allowed to cry or be emotional because we are men, we should be stable. That shouldn’t be. The faith that we have is not meant to be lived on our own. That's where the church communication comes in. It is important to be connected to a group of people that you trust the most, not only for fellowship, but also to have people to encourage you and pray for you and celebrate with you and mourn with you. For whatever reason and in every season, we need to have a community of believers. So if you are listening right now and is not part of a church community yet and would like to be connected, comment down below, and we’ll help you get connected.

If we read 1 Kings 19:4, Elijah asked God to take away his life for it was too much for him to handle. He lost hope. 

How did God respond to his wrong steps above which showed his needs for physical rest, emotional support, spiritual guidance and a need for a community?

1. God gave Elijah nourishment and sleep (v. 5-7)

2. God made his presence known to Elijah (v. 9-13)

3. God exhorted to follow him once again ( v. 15-17)

4. God told Elijah about the remaining 7000 faithful followers in Israel (v. 18)

Imagine if God answered Elijah’s request. There would be no King Jehu who replaced the evil Ahab and Jezebel. There would be prophet Elisha who God used to do a lot more miracles than Elijah.

If God met the needs of Elijah during his depressing time, God also wants to meet our needs today. And maybe for you who are listening, this is what you need. God is speaking to you right now. Maybe you’ve been sleeping under the tree of despair for a very long time. God is telling you to arise and eat. Maybe you’ve been feeling so alone all this time; God is reminding you that you are not alone, that Jesus promised to be with you until the end of the age. Maybe you’ve gone so far from God that you see no hope of coming back; God is waiting faithfully for your return, like the father to his prodigal son. Or maybe you just don’t have any friends due to trust issues; God is reminding you that you can find true friends here in the church who are willing to journey with you. Ultimately, you have a friend in Jesus.

Photo by: Jaime Legaspino