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How Do You Battle Depression?

02.10.19 Nathaniel Wall

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  2. How Do You Battle Depression?
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  3. How Can Your Faith Make a Difference?
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How Do You Battle Depression?

02.10.19 Nathaniel Wall Elijah Series

I want you to know that today we’re going to talk about a sensitive topic and so, if you’ve got some happy thoughts, think about those right now because we’re going to deal with the idea of depression this morning. So, for me I’ll be reflecting on the Super Bowl throughout the duration of this series.

I want you to know, if you’ve ever wondered why the Patriots keep winning so many Super Bowls, I’ll tell you the secret. Everyone thinks it’s Belichick and Brady, but it’s not. It’s every time I talk about he Patriots winning, they always win. And so it’s the magic of the pulpit that the Lord uses here. So, all that to say, go Jazz, right? Can I get some support at least on the local team, right? Go, Jazz.

But we are going to be talking about the idea of depression and I know this is a difficult topic. And we typically as a church, if we pick a season to discuss the subject, I would say the most favorable season would be this time of year because we all are hunkered in, you’ve battled sickness, you can’t get outside as much. I think seasonal depression is something people tend to deal with.

And so following that thought, this topic related to 1 Kings 19 I think fits wonderfully to our season. And this section is such a good portion of scripture I think that God can use to speak into our lives because if you’ve followed along with us on the life of Elijah, you can get to the place where you start to picture him as a spiritual giant and when you try to compare yourself to someone like Elijah, you fail in that, like you think, here’s Elijah, God called him, he jumped on the train, he was on board, he pursued after God. But when God did that for me, I didn’t get on the train. I failed to do that years ago. And in fact, I did get on the train a little late in life but every once in a while I just keep jumping off that train. So I’m not like Elijah. He seems to have it all together and this isn’t true for my life.

I want you to know, 1 Kings 19, if that’s your thought of Elijah, it is such a beautiful chapter now to consider how God continues to work in his life because this chapter identifies the frailty of really humanity. And especially in the life of Elijah. He gets discouraged, he struggles and he has depression.

So when you look at this in the beginning of this chapter, chapter 19, the first few verses, it says this, “Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done.” You remember last week we talked about Mount Carmel and Elijah tells all the prophets to meet him at Mount Carmel, the false gods, 850 of them. They go up Mount Carmel, Elijah calls down thunder and demonstrates his God is the true God and the false prophets couldn’t demonstrate the same thing about their god. And right after that, the prophets are slaughtered. The false prophets are slaughtered.

And Ahab is there during that event, but Jezebel isn’t. So Ahab goes and tells this to Jezebel, all that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword, which that’s another theological topic we will deal with, okay? But he kills them all with the sword. “Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and even more if I do not make your life as a life of one of them tomorrow about this time.’ And Elijah was afraid. And he arose and he ran for his life and came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness.”

Let me stop right there for just a minute. Elijah, when you think about his life to this point, we’ve seen him as a tremendous God-fearing, powerful individual in his faith before the Lord. And Ahab comes before Jezebel and it’s showing us that Jezebel really carries the authority for Israel and Jezebel takes a stand, threatens to kill Elijah, and Elijah runs.

Now, we know from studying this together that Elijah, where he is in this time period is he is in the northern tribes of Israel. Remember Israel’s had a civil war, there’s ten tribes to the north, two tribes went to the south. And Elijah’s with the ten tribes, ministering to them. The northern tribes never had a godly king. And Elijah is used by the Lord to go to speak truth into their lives and when Elijah does this, Jezebel goes for Elijah’s life.

And Elijah freaks out and he runs. After showing all of this faith, he goes before Ahab at one point and he says, “Look, there’s going to be a drought for three years, my name’s Elijah and the Lord is my God.” And then there’s this famine, Elijah in the middle of the famine, he’s faithful to the Lord. When he goes to the Kerith Ravine, in Zarephath with the widow, and then he goes on Mount Carmel before all of these false prophets. Elijah stays true to his faith.

And now, all of a sudden, he walks in fear. I mean, at one point he even told the widow in chapter 17, “Don’t be afraid.” Now he is afraid. So much so that he leaves the northern part of Israel and he travels into Judah. And it tells us he goes to Beersheba and Beersheba is the southernmost town of Judah. I mean, he literally went as far as he could go. And after going that far, he leaves his servant who is going with him, and he goes 15 miles further into the wilderness by himself. He is so afraid that Jezebel’s spies are going to find him that he just isolates himself from everyone and he runs.

And then in verse four, “He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a Juniper tree and he requested for himself that he might die. And said, ‘It is enough now, O Lord, take my life. For I am no better than my fathers.'” Elijah’s words are suicidal. A tough place.

I think about in my own family’s life, the impact those words being lived out has had on us. I asked my wife if I could just share just a brief story, but just a little portion of it. It’s her story to tell, but two months after we were married, we were working a lot of hours in order to move back to Utah to start this church. And my wife was working late one evening and I went to this class that my church was offering on marriage, how to have the great marriage. And so, you know, two months into this, I’m a perfect husband. I haven’t messed up yet, right? So I got to keep the streak alive.

So I remember attending this marriage conference and we’re in this room and this room was set up in such a way, it was full, but the only way into this room was in the middle of the room. And I knew she was working, but I didn’t care, I was going to attend it anyway because I wanted to be the kind of husband that God called me to be for her.

And we’re all sitting in this room and I remember I’m on the opposite side of this door. And all of a sudden in walks my wife. And she’s supposed to be at work. But it was one of those moments where her face had such brokenness on it, the whole room just stops. And everybody’s attention is on her. And all she says is, “My mom is gone.”

All of a sudden your world, right? So small. Two months into marriage, I remember going up to the home, going through everything. Trying to figure out how to love on my wife. And the first funeral being a pastor, a new pastor, the first funeral I ever have to lead is for my mother-in-law. Depression’s a serious thing. And sometimes the consequences that come along with it, people can sometimes make longterm decisions towards temporary problems.

I think about the extreme that depression will bring as regards to suicide, people often ask questions of suicide. And one of the most prominent ones I think I hear is, if someone commits suicide, do they go to hell? And I want you to know that suicide has nothing to do with whether or not someone goes to heaven or hell. Suicide is a reflection of something deep happening in the life of an individual and it also acknowledges the need to gather around, circle the wagons around a family that’s going through difficulty.

But if you believe that suicide sends someone to hell, I want you to know that that demonstrates that you don’t understand the gospel. The gospel for us, our salvation isn’t based on what we do or don’t do. It’s based on what Jesus has done for us. When Jesus hung on the cross, he died for your sins before you would even commit them. Right? And he calls you by faith to trust in him for that sacrifice. And so that’s why, as a believer today, if I have trusted in Jesus, I don’t have to keep asking Jesus for my salvation. When I come to Jesus for my salvation, he covers all of my life. The good things and the stupid things. His cross is sufficient.

In fact, just last night in spending time with the Lord, I was doing some devotions out of Revelation and one of the verses the Lord used in my life just to reflect on was Revelation 1:5. I didn’t even think about sharing until this morning, but in Revelation 1, I want you to hear how Jesus describes this. He says, or John’s writing this about Jesus, “And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood.”

It’s interesting when he says he loves us and released us from our sins because it’s in two tenses here. When it says he loves us, it’s in the present tense. When it says he’s released us from our sins, it’s in the past tense. When Jesus covered your sins, if you trust in Jesus, it is sufficient. Paid in full. And because Jesus covers your sins actively, he loves you where you are. Jesus knows you’re not perfect.

What suicide demonstrates, what depression, I think, in general demonstrates is it’s a place to be a friend. To make your presence known, to love and to listen. I find oftentimes when people go through hardships, we as people, we want to have the magic words to take away the pain and oftentimes we’ll just say things to try to make it better. Or we’ll try to be the people that bring the silver lining, “Oh, that’s bad. Well, at least …,” and we sort of walk away from their paid because of that. “You know, that’s hard to hear, but at least …” And it’s like you’re abandoning where they are to just get them to focus on something else. But they want you to meet them where they are.

And I find sometimes in those moments, it’s far better not to say anything and just listen. Love them. Show that you care. Your presence matters. People know that words can’t fix things. But your presence shows that you are concerned for them and you care about them.

In regards to depression, it’s interesting when you just read studies on depression that American Medical Association says 12% of men, 26% of women will experience major depression during their lifetime. In fact, I was reading a study that said pastors actually tend to rank on the manic depressive scale more than most people because they come on a Sunday morning, you share this message with really high highs that follow really low lows. And you just walk life with people, it goes like this, you usually are there for the high moments or the low moments. Right? And so it tends to take you on the emotional gamut.

In this study that I was reading, Matthew Stamford, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, said one out of every four pastors is depressed. Now I’m not giving you that stat to secretly tell you that I’ve got this battle going on, I feel fine right now in my life. But it’s an interesting statistic to just recognize in life that it’s something that people deal with. And learning how to deal with it becomes important.

I want to tell you this morning, we’re going to talk about this topic and I realize in our lives we encounter depression in different ways for different reasons. So I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m going to give you everything as it relates to your life and it’s going to fit you perfectly. It matters where you’re coming from, but what we’re going to do is we’re going to look at the life of Elijah as he struggled with it from these moments. Use Elijah’s story to speak truth in our own lives as we recognize as people we battle with things as well.

So what do we learn from Elijah? It tells us in verse three that Elijah ran because he was afraid. Verse four, he goes into a day’s journey by himself. Requests that he would die. And then verse five, he lay down and slept under a Juniper tree. If you think about Elijah’s story, Elijah’s depression really came after large life events.

I think one of the most vulnerable moments for us as people come after significant life changes. In fact, counselors will often say that the five most stressful things, life events that someone can go through, that might put you in a place to begin to feel depression is number one, the death of a loved one; number two, divorce; number three, moving; number four, major illness or injury; or number five, job loss.

If you go through any of those events in your life, you should be able to stop within those moments and think, you know whatever you go through now that you’ve had this happen or you’re going through the middle of this, that it’s okay in these moments to not feel okay. In fact, you should expect it.

With significant life change comes adjustment. A new normal. You think about the life of Elijah, for three years he found his identity as it related to confronting Ahab, surviving this drought that was taking place that would lead to Mount Carmel. Now all those events have transpired and now what? Job change. And a move, from the top, all the way to the top in Israel down as far south as he could go. Stress, wrapped up in his old identity. The moment happens on the top of Mount Carmel and then on the top of a mountain, the only place that you can go from there is down.

When you go through significant life change, you should prepare yourself from the battle that might happen within. And if you battle with depression, one of the things that I have found tremendous encouragement in my life is that some of God’s greatest servants battled depression. Moses, in Numbers 11, starting in verse 10, he asked God to take his life because it had become so hectic he didn’t feel like he could maintain it. Jonah was frustrated, in Jonah 4:3 asked God to take his life. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:8 said he despaired of life. Elijah, in these moments, the same thing.

If you read the Psalms at all, it seems like King David every day is that way. In fact, in Psalm 38:6 David says, “I am bent over and greatly bowed down. I go mourning all day long. I am benumbed,” in verse 8, “and badly crushed. I groan because of the agitation of my heart.” One of my favorite people to read, I even have one of his books in my backpack this morning, Charles Spurgeon. Charles Spurgeon in history, some people will say apart from the Apostle Paul, no one after New Testament time has done more for Christianity than Charles Spurgeon. He is referred to as the Prince of Preachers.

Charles Spurgeon, in a day when there was no amplification, had a church of up to 20,000 people. And Charles Spurgeon battled depression greatly. I think it was one of the reasons that he was such a great preacher is because he understood the wrestling that took place within a soul. And God used Spurgeon to start some 80+ ministries in his lifetime. Seeing him struggle, seeing God’s faithful struggle, it helps you to feel a little normal, doesn’t it?

You ever get to that place in life where you look around, you’re experiencing something, you’re going through something, you see everyone else around you just kind of reacting different. You start thinking, “Am I crazy? I feel like I’m in reality, but doesn’t feel like anyone else around me is there.” And all of a sudden you meet that person that’s going through that same experience with you. And they just describe it without maybe even knowing that you’re in. They just describe it and you’re like, “That’s exactly where I am!” Like, “I’m normal! Or at least if we’re both crazy, we’re going to be crazy together, right?” There’s this comfort in knowing that.

Elijah struggles in this life event. It’s time to pause in our hearts and just ask, what major life events are you going through? And if you’re going through them, it’s okay to not feel okay. Give yourself some grace. Don’t place your expectation beyond where you are.

Not only that, but verse four tells us where Elijah got lost. Let me back up for a minute, he gets lost in self-pity. Look at verse four, he says, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under the Juniper tree. And he requested for himself that he may die. And said, ‘It is enough now, O Lord, take my life.'” And then listen to this, “For I am not better than my fathers.” Self-pity.

Self-pity is a powerful toxic emotion. It will lie to you, it will exaggerate. It will drive you to tears. In a worse case scenario, bring you to the place of wishing that you were dead. And this is where Elijah is. “For I am no better than my fathers,” he says. What’s the problem with that? I would think, if God were just to respond to this statement immediately where he says, “I am no better than my fathers,” it would be to say this, “Elijah, whoever said you had to be?” Who said? Why is that what is important?

Nobody told him he had to be better than his fathers. In fact, in this room this morning, we’re not better than anyone else, nor did God make us beneath anyone else. God made us all equal. Our goal in life shouldn’t be to be better than other people. And so, Elijah in his disappointment, he’s falling into this self-pity because he set this standard for himself that’s impossible. And God never told him he needed to be better than anyone else.

You know, in these moments, I’m glad Elijah’s giving up that identity of trying to be better than others. It’s a losing battle. But you know it needs to be done in a healthy way. Not to simply look at it defeated to say that you in your own strength could never do this, but rather to give up that battle of trying to be better than others because your identity isn’t about being better than others. Your identity is who Jesus created you to be.

And when we create an unrealistic standard in ourselves and we can’t live up to it, it leads to depression. One of the most dangerous things that we play today is the comparison game. I think this section, this verse, this phrase, I feel like from this point we should write a letter to Utah.

Dear Utah, we see the perfection of life that you portray on the outside, but we aren’t fooled. We know that while you try to live up to the standard of the Jones’ beside you, there is brokenness on the inside. Who told you you had to be better than anyone else? And why strive to do that? Because God doesn’t call you to be like everyone else. To not play the comparison game. God rather calls you to live to be who he has called you to be. Don’t try to be like other people. Be the person God gifted you to be, that’s why he made you.

Don’t let other people create your standard, let God create it. Because God is the one that’s always loving, always affirming, always accepting, always faithful to uphold you. I know it can even get that for pastors in the pastoral world, like if I just use my own situation for comparison. You think about pastors in churches and you see success or whatever you might deem success. And you compare that to yourself or you think in your own work environment and you might compare yourself to other people. And you say to yourself, “I can’t be like them.” God never called you to be like them.

When we set that standard for ourselves and we can’t achieve that standard, what happens is we find ourselves that we’re not content to live the way that God has blessed you to live. And rather than be thankful for when God works in us and in others, we get jealous or we get depressed or we get defeated and angry. Or even worse, we achieve our goals and when we look at other people we become arrogant and proud.

In our self-imposed standards, Elijah got lost in the self-pity because his standard in life was to be better than others. But that’s not who God called him to be. Guys, are you comparing yourself? I would encourage you, give yourself grace. Don’t pressure yourself into being someone else. But rather be who God made you to be, faithfully before him.

Can I tell you? God’s aware of where you are. He knows what you have. He knows what your strengths are, he knows what your limitations are. Just be faithful with who God made you to be. Don’t put those standards of other people on you. But look to Jesus.

Elijah not only got lost in the self-pity, but he was also physically exhausted and emotionally spent. For years Elijah had lived on the edge, he was hunted by man, considered by the king to be public enemy number one. We saw last week, Obadiah came to Elijah and said, in chapter 18, verse 10, that Ahab went to all the kingdoms and he made the kingdom swear that you were hiding there because he wants to kill you.

And so Elijah’s life, he was exhausted, he was emotionally spent. There is a Greek proverb that says this, “You will break the bow if you always keep it bent.” Some of us are worn out and depressed, honestly because we should be. How else is God going to get you to slow down? I mean, when you put the RPMs in red all day long, something’s going to give, right?

You see, in the life of Elijah, he’s worn out in these moments. I think about that for us as a church, Utah is the youngest state in America, which means families are young and kids take time. And your number one ministry should be your family. Church isn’t here to wear you out, but to encourage you. It’s important to rest. I’ve found in my own life that if I ever feel down, I’ll say this to my wife frequently, even if she says that she is, you should rest. Sleep does wonders for the soul. Not only sleep, but even eating right does wonders for the soul.

You see in the life of Elijah, in verse five it says this, “He lay down under a Juniper tree and behold there was an angel touching him and he said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ And then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stone and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. An angel of the Lord came to him a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat because the journey is too great for you.’ So he arose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food for 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mount of God.”

I love this. The first thing in the middle of the struggle that God offers to Elijah, doesn’t judge him, doesn’t say, “What’s wrong with you?” Doesn’t say, “Hey, I got something else for you.” Rest and eat. Rest and eat. If anyone’s got super powers, it’s Elijah. And Elijah needs rest and eat. We’re not Superman and Superwoman in here. Rest and eat. And take time to enjoy life around you, all right?

So Elijah’s exhausted in these moments. And so we ask ourselves, are you wearing yourself out? Do you need to cut back? Do you need to lower your expectations and give yourself grace?

Next I would say this on Elijah, in verse nine, he says, “Then he came there to a cave and lodged there.” This mountain, Horeb, is also Mount Sinai. Another name for Mount Sinai. And Mount Sinai is where God spoke to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments. “He came and lodged there and behold the word of the Lord came to him and said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars and killed your prophets with a sword. And I alone am left and they seek my life to take it away.'”

“So he said, ‘Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold the Lord was passing by and a great and strong wind was rendering the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord.” Let me stop here and say this, when God asked Elijah, “Elijah, why are you here?” Elijah goes on to explain the story of everything that’s happened. But you know what Elijah does? He exaggerates his position rather than embrace really the certainty of God’s promises.

Elijah wasn’t thinking clearly, nor do I think he was thinking truthfully. If you tell yourself enough lies, eventually you’ll believe it. And I think the most dangerous lie that we can tell ourselves isn’t an outright lie, it’s a half truth. There’s a story, I forget which book it comes in, where the devil and one of his cohorts were walking along the road and they’re watching a man in front of them walk. And the man bends over and picks up something shiny. And the cohort looks at the devil and says, “What did he pick up?” And the devil said, “A piece of truth.” And the cohort starts to freak out, “Ah, he’s got the truth! What are you going to do about it?” And then the devil says, “Nothing, I’ll just see he makes a religion out of it.” It’s just a piece. Doesn’t have the whole truth, right?

It’s dangerous. Half truths. And with Elijah in these moments, he tells God the story but then he ends it with this, “I alone am left.” I’m all by myself. And the reality is is it’s not true. But yet Elijah lives in that truth and so on Mount Horeb, what God starts to do is he starts to shake some things up. It tells you, this great strong wind and this rumbling takes place and it breaks up the rocks.

And it goes on from there in verse 11, “But the Lord was in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And the earthquake, a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a sound of gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.”

“And behold a voice came to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ Then he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left. And they seek my life to take it away.'” Elijah shares the same story again with the Lord, believing the same statement. But I love it, God is patient with him.

Two things God does in this story. One, he shows his power. His presence, right? Shakes this up, he gets Elijah’s attention. But then when God talks to him, his tone changes. He does it gently. “Elijah, recognize who I am and I want to whisper into that soul. I want you to hear this truth, Elijah. Here you are feeling this way because you believe this, but this isn’t true.”

And then God, in verse 15, says this, “The Lord said to him, ‘Go return, on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel. And Elisha, the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah, and you shall anoint as prophet in your place.” You just make those words up, okay. You say them confidently, people believe it.

“It shall come about, the one who escaped from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death. And the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. Yet, I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Elijah, you’re not alone. Elijah, that’s not true. Elijah, reflect in the truth of your Lord. Half truths are dangerous. He wants to ask us, what lies do you tell yourself? How does God view you? And how do you view you? Are they the same?

Look, I understand we all have a past. In fact, you’ll never embrace Jesus until you recognize the sin in your life that needs Jesus. But Jesus isn’t one that wants you to live in your past. Jesus is one that gives you a future. He makes all things new. And when God looks at you, because when Jesus died on the cross, that was sufficient. When God looks at you, he sees the beauty of Jesus over your life. Because what God thinks about when he sees you in Christ is your future, not your past.

And so the way that we see ourselves should match the way God sees us in that identity with him, that we are made new in Christ. And so the truths that we tell we ourselves become important. It should be the same, how God views us, how we view ourselves in Jesus. To recognize sometimes as human beings we tend to focus on our past, but how that God is interested in our future.

The last thing Elijah does in this story is he separates himself from strengthening relationships. I read in the story that Elijah runs all the way from the top clear down to the bottom. He has one servant with him and he abandons that servant and goes for 15 miles by himself and sleeps sunder a Juniper tree, which at best is only 12 feet tall. There is no way this guy is out of the sun. He separates himself.

But God creates us for relationship. And knowing that, God brings companionship into the life of the Elijah. It tells us in the previous verses we just read and in verse 19, “So he departed from there and found Elisha, the son of Shaphat, and while he was plowing with the twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him. He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, ‘Please let me kiss my father and my mother that I may follow you.'”

Now, some of you guys may be reading that thinking, anybody that ever throws a mantle on me, I am not going to run after them like they’re my best friend, right? But let me explain what’s happening here. In Elijah’s day, when a prophet would come beside you and they would put their cloak on you, that’s really what it is, it was a passing of authority and power and position. And so what Elijah is saying si that he sees Elisha as the one that will replace him and the position that he’s carried for Israel. It’s a position of honor to be selected in this way.

And so that’s why Elisha immediately gets up and follows after Elijah. Strengthening relationships are those that encourage you to be who God has called you to be. God’s not designed us to be hermits in a cave. But to find companionship in Christ, to be encouraged in him.

There’s a thing in counseling that’s referenced as preventative counseling. It begins in healthy community. The reason community becomes important to build is because when you build community today, it helps you in the struggle tomorrow. If you just go looking for community when you’re in the struggle rather than having built healthy community before it happens, sometimes it doesn’t feel authentic and therefore people will often reject it. But when you begin investing in relationships now to speak into one another’s life, when adversity comes, you’ve got an Elisha to run with you.

And so building healthy community becomes important for the sustainability of a healthy life. And God gives Elijah an Elisha to run with him. And so it should be in our lives, that God calls us to pour into people, but God also calls us to walk alongside people. To be encouraged in one another.

It says he threw his mantle and then of Elisha, “He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, ‘Please let me kiss my father and my mother, that I will follow you.’ And he said to him, ‘Go back, for what have I done to you?’ So he returned from following him and took the pair of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.”

Interesting thought. You kind of ask the question, what Elijah is asking Elisha to do is, it can be difficult. And you want to know how in Elisha is to follow after Elijah? He takes the very animals that were providing for his life and he sacrifices them. We all need a friend like that. In the heat of the moment, whatever it takes to be there by your side. And as it says in this last verse, “ministered to him.”

When it comes to the thought of depression, guys, I know in looking at the life of Elijah, this doesn’t touch everything. So let me encourage you this way, if you want to read a great book or resource on depression, Ed Welch is a wonderful Christian counselor that wrote a great book on depression. In fact, Foundations of Christian Counseling, which is a foundation that has multiple sites for Christian counseling, I asked them what book they would recommend for depression, this is the number one book that they suggested to me.

When I think about the life of Elijah, I know it may sound a bit morbid, but I find comfort in seeing Elijah battle and struggle. It’s a part of life and seeing that God’s people aren’t separate or distant from it I think helps us understand that there’s healthy ways to move forward. And one of the great things to always recognize is that in the life of Elijah, and it’s true for us, is that God was always with him. Yes, things were hard, but God never gave up. God cares.

And can I tell all of us today that Jesus wants to meet with you in the same way. He’s powerful, yet God desires to whisper in your soul the strength that you need. He provides rest and truth. He doesn’t ask you to be like others. But he does provide others to encourage you in the truth which he’s given.

When you look at the life of Elijah, you can use these tools that God’s given Elijah to have these battles in your life against depression. I think every one of us at some point would have needed, or we do need the same tools that Elijah had to use in these circumstances that he faced, we all have battles. Pity battles, even. But don’t compare yourself to others. Let Jesus be your place of grace. Rest in him. You aren’t Superman. Hold to truth, not half truths. Find redeeming relationships that invest in your life as much as you invest in theirs.

Guys, even if bad things happen, and they will, Jesus said in John 16:33, “Take heart, for I have overcome the world.” At the end of your day, when your hope rests not in what is around you, but what is to come, at the end of the day there is always victory. And Jesus did that for you.