Provoke Yourself to Action
To break free from depression we first honour our body and then we observe our thinking. The next step is to provoke ourselves to action. Here is what God said next to Elijah.
Then the Lord told (Elijah), “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (1 Kings 19:15-19)
God gave Elijah an assignment. He basically told Elijah that it was time to get out of the cave. God recommissioned Elijah to go and complete some tasks for him. He told him to get up and to get to work. Notice that he only gave him three tasks. Not fifty. Three. He was to anoint two kings and then appoint Elisha as the person he would train to succeed him.
Depression tends to make us sluggish and takes away our energy. However, inactivity can get in the way of the healing process. Part of our freedom journey is to get involved once more in daily activities. Even easy things can seem hard to do when you are depressed. Pushing yourself to do some things that you dread or feel too tired to do can help lift the depression. Set yourself some simple tasks that you are no longer doing. It may not be easy but it is important that you re-engage in the activities that you have given up. The sense of tiredness that goes with depression can increase the less you do and the more you withdraw. Becoming involved in some simple tasks can help to energise you.
Discover and pursue your purpose in life. Elijah became depressed when he lost a sense of God’s calling for his life. He lost perspective and saw no reason to go on. If Elijah had stayed in that cave he probably would have kept going further downhill in his battle with depression.
During my six month valley, I had to slow down and do a few less things but I did keep engaged with life. Even though I did not feel like doing some things, I kept doing them. Keeping in the race, keeping in the rhythm of life, helped me to come out of that valley. You can do the same. Do some simple tasks and keep serving other people.
I read an article recently in which Doctor Carl Menninger, a leading mental health professional, was being interviewed. He was asked what he would advise someone who was about to have a nervous breakdown. Most people thought he would quickly direct the person so see a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Surprisingly, without hesitation, he said, “Tell them to lock up their house, go across the railroad tracks, find somebody in need, and help that person.” Here is a leading health professional telling us that if we are struggling with depressing emotions we should get busy helping somebody else. Why? Because when you help somebody else, you get away from the mire of self-pity and your problems tend to become right-sized.
That is what God did with Elijah. He helped him get better physically, he worked on his thinking and then he led him back to making a contribution. The kingdom was still moving forward. God had a couple of kings for Elijah to anoint and he needed to find a good successor. God was getting him back on track with his purpose in life. One of the biggest dangers, when we are going through depression, is that we can tend to pull out of the race of life. We need to provoke ourselves to some action.
Tomorrow: One More Step