Establish Supportive Relationships
The final lesson we learn from the story of Elijah is to establish supportive relationships. You will notice that Elijah had left his servant just prior to this episode of depression and during this entire incident, he was alone. Look at the story again.
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (1 Kings 19:3-4)
Notice those words: “He went on alone into the wilderness.” Elijah left his servant, his partner in ministry, and it was when he was alone that he hit bottom. Loneliness and isolation often feed depression. Sometimes when you are depressed you may not want to be with people but we all need supportive relationships. Part of God’s assignment for Elijah was not only to anoint two kings, but to go and find another servant. He was sent to go and recruit Elisha. God was moving Elijah back into community. He wanted him to do life and ministry with other people, not alone. He needed companionship.
We all need friends and close relationships that provide emotional support to us, especially during tough times. It takes time and effort to build strong healthy friendships. We should do this in advance, not just when we are facing depression or other challenges.
As we said in our opening chapter, part of our journey to freedom is moving from isolation into community. If you are going through depression, you need people around you to encourage you, to support you, and to provide perspective and a sounding board.
Yes, the word of God is an accurate mirror but sometimes we need people to hear us talk and say, “You know, hold on, that is not really true.” We need people to help adjust our thinking. We need friends. We need small groups. We need a church community. Sometimes we need a counsellor, someone who is gifted in understanding an emotion such as depression, and who can sit with us and talk it through so that we get the help we need. Occasionally, we need medical doctors, especially if our depression is severe.
These people are all a part of our support team. Do not isolate yourself from people. You need relationships even more than ever when you are going through times of depression.
Tomorrow: Hope for the Future