Hope for the Future
The amazing thing about Elijah is that, despite his incredible bout of depression, he continued to minister. God helped him to honour his physical body, he learnt to observe his thinking then renew his mind, God provoked him to action, and then God moved him back into relationship. Elijah lived on. In fact, what is quite humorous is that the biblical record tells us Elijah never died, even though he experienced a suicidal episode. How good is that! Apparently, he went straight up to heaven.
When you feel depressed, it can seem as if you will be stuck in that dark tunnel forever. There are not always quick and easy answers, but you are not helpless in the face of depression. There are a lot of things you can do to help yourself. You can take responsibility for your depression. You can seek to bring it under control and try to control some of the causes. It may take some time to work through your depression but simply acknowledging what you feel and then beginning to take some of the small steps we have shared in this chapter can be very helpful. Freedom is a journey.
One of the most common phrases in the Old Testament is, “It came to pass.” The good news about most depression is that it comes to pass. It is not the end. It may be a valley but there is hope. If Elijah was here right now he would probably tell us, “Yeah, I had a really tough time with depression but I found hope and you can too. You can come out of that valley. You can come out of that prison. There is a future for you.”
I think that Elijah’s story is a terrific example of how we, as a church community, should treat people who are going through a time of depression. God is a phenomenal role model. Did you notice how he treated Elijah? He handled him with care and sensitivity. He gave him encouragement, not just confrontation. Elijah’s experience with depression probably took at least a few months of time. This did not all happen in one day. God was very patient in helping Elijah work through and come out of this valley.
I pray that churches will become safer places, so that when people are struggling with depression, followers of Christ will be there to support and help them. I pray that we will be patient with people as they work through what is going on in their life. That is what God desires his community to be.
Depression robs us of our joy, saps us of our energy, and hinders us from fulfilling our purpose in life. With God’s help, we can deal with depression. Start taking some steps toward your freedom today.
Are you battling with depression right now? Maybe you have been experiencing some low mood. Maybe you have been fighting depression for the last few weeks, months, or maybe even years. I pray that you will find hope. Take a step forward today. I would love to pray for you. Receive from God’s Spirit even as you read the words of this prayer.
“Father, you see what is happening in our inner world. You see our low mood and all of our feelings. Sometimes we do not understand what is going on. Depression can be very complex and very confusing. Lord, I pray for your grace to come into my friend’s heart right now. We pray that you would dispel the clouds and that they would see the light of the sun again. I pray for peace to come into their heart and mind. Help them to give attention to their soul, to what is happening in their inner world. May this emotion of depression be a part of their journey towards healing. May they know the fullness of your joy once again, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Some Reflection Questions:
- Have you ever experienced depression? If so, what were the contributing factors? What did it feel like at the time? How did you deal with it?
- What could you do to improve your physical health?
- Can you think of any distorted thinking that may be affecting you right now?
- What is your purpose in life and how could you pursue it more passionately?
- What are some ways that churches can be a safer place of healing for people experiencing all sorts of depression?
- What are some unhelpful responses to people experiencing depression that we should avoid?
P.S. This teaching on dealing with depression is the summary of one of the many chapters in my book Prison Break: Finding Personal Freedom. If you found it helpful, tell others and get your own copy today (paperback or eBook).
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