Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the large number of people I know who are experiencing depression right now, or at least experience it on a regular basis. I know I’ve been there myself. I guess to not experience depression in some form or another would be…non-human.
Oswald Chambers said it best,
“A human being is capable of depression, otherwise there would be no capacity for exultation.” My Utmost For His Highest
I never thought about it that way before.
I think the problem comes when we remain in a state of non-action due to depression. I know you all know what I mean. Unmet expectations, overwhelming circumstances, as well as our own failures in life…we carry the weight of it all on our shoulders. Depression settles in, and eventually despair. The next thing you know, you’re in bed with your head under the covers because sleep is the only place where you think you can find refuge…if you can sleep, that is. At that point it doesn’t really matter if life and daily routine stop. Forget about any long term goals you may have set. It’s just too hard to take the next step.
Elijah new this depression all too well. In 1 Kings 19, the prophet is running for his life from the wicked Jezebel. The children of Israel have forsaken their God and killed the prophets. As Elijah puts it, He is the only one left. In verse 4 he pretty much expresses his despair by saying, “Kill me now, God.”
Fatigued by his running, and overwhelmed by anquish and dispair, he lays himself down under the broom tree and falls asleep. I assume he had no covers to cover his head with, and maybe only a rock for a pillow. At any rate…sleep was his refuge.
But then, an amazing happens. An angel touched him and said, “Arise and eat.” And there, right by his head, was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water.
So, Elijah ate and drank, but then he laid back down, obviously unaware of what this simple action of eating was to accomplish in his life. So, the angel touches him a second time and again said, “Arise and eat…you’ve got a big journey ahead of you.” (paraphrase)
Elijah, once again got up and ate and drank.
Now here’s the miracle of that simple action. Verse 8 tells us that he went on the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights, as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. Talk about heavenly food. 😉
What’s the point here? Elijah, in the depths of his despair, completed a simple action. He rose, he ate…and it gave him the strength to take the next step. That next step took him to the place where God spoke to him…not in the wind, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire. The Father spoke to him in a still, small voice and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God still had work for the prophet to do.
Scripture doesn’t tell us if Elijah ever got over that depression. We never hear that God healed his anguish and fears, or that he lived out the rest of his days in sorrowless bliss. I’m so thankful for that, because what we are told is this. Elijah went on to annoint two kings and a new prophet to take his place. He continued to serve his God until he was literally taken to heaven in a chariot of fire.
Now, I may not have heavenly prepared cakes sitting by my head, ready to eat. But, I do have the word of God right at my fingertips. God’s word is all sustaining, life giving. It gives me everything I need to be able to take the next step. Why then, is it so easy, to not pick up our bibles when we are depressed? I’m sure our enemy loves it when we don’t. Even Elijah ate a little and went back to sleep. The angel again waking him a second time to say, “Come on…eat some more.” (paraphrase again).
I think the more we take in the word, the more we want to take it in. It may take all our strength to wake up and take that first bite. But when we do, the nourishment gets in…and we eat some more. The next thing you know…you’re taking the next step, hearing the still small voice. Is the depression gone? Maybe not. But I’d much rather be moving forward in the strength of my God than under the covers.
This is in no way meant to belittle or make light of those who struggle with serious depression. Believe me when I say that I regularly petition the Lord on behalf of those I know and love who hurt in this way. This post is more or less a nudge…Are you hungry? Then eat. Or better yet…