Monday, August 7, 2017

1 Kings 19:9-18 Recovering from Depression

KEY TEXT: 1 Kings 19:13-17 And behold, there came a voice to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." And the Lord said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.

KEY THOT: Elijah was suffering from depression despite his recent victory over 450 of Baal's prophets (1 Kings 18:20-40). Success in ministry is no protection against depression. In fact, he wanted to die: "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers" (1 Kings 19:4). The clue to his depressed emotional and mental state is found in his false belief: "I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord" (18:22). He repeated this assertion two more times in 1 Kings 19:10 & 14, "For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left." He was wallowing in self-pity. This toxic thought-life caused him to become suicidal (19:4) and to withdraw into his cave (19:9) of isolation and non-communication. 

God's remedy for Elijah's depression was three-fold: firstly, God rested and refreshed his body: "And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, 'Arise and eat.'" (19:5). Physical exhaustion can affect our mental and emotional state. The cure for this is getting good sleep and eating good food. 

Secondly, God refocused his mind on the future, not the past. Elijah was focused on what had just happened to him--how he had to flee for his life from Jezebel (wife of Ahab, the king of Israel), after being threatened by her. To get his mind off the past, God told him three things he must now do in the immediate future: (1) anoint Hazael as king over Syria; (2) anoint Jehu as king over Israel; (3) anoint Elisha as his successor. If we focus our thoughts on negative things done or said to us because of our ministry, we will become depressed. Instead, we need to focus on God's future and obey his commands to fulfill His agenda, not ours.  

And finally, God challenged his self-pitying mindset by reminding him he was not the only prophet left in Israel: "I reserve seven thousand in Israel — all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18, NIV). If we engage in the messianic complex, that we are the only one who can save the world, we will sink. God has his many godly people who are still committed to his kingdom agenda. Don't focus on those who don't want to get on board; rather, focus on the many who are committed to obey God's agenda for the church.

If we find ourselves in depression and withdrawing into our caves, it is time to recognize the roots of our depressed emotional and mental state: self-pity and anxiety caused by our focus on our past. To get rid of this depression, we have to take time out to rest and re-energize our physical body; reject self-pitying thoughts and re-engage in God's future plan and purpose.

Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

May the Lord help us all who are weary and burdened to surrender our self-inflicted yoke and exchange it for His yoke which is easy and light.

Abba-Father, thank You for Your yoke of ministry that is easy and light because it is empowered by Your Spirit, not our flesh. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I would say that longevity is all about a state of mind. While diet and health can aid in this I think it’s the mindset. It all boils down to making them think that they are still an asset.
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