#7 (The “Great Escapes” Series)
"ESCAPE FROM DEPRESSION!"
TEXT: 1 Kings 19:1-21
INTRO: Depression can be a very debilitating experience. Sometimes depression can be caused by really depressing circumstances:
ILLUS: Like the man who went in for a corn on his foot, it was too painful to ignore. Because of the pain he asked for an anesthetic. It was injected and he had an allergic reaction so severe his heart stopped. The frantic doctors immediately operated and administered direct heart message to revive him. In the process of the operation an accidental overdose of oxygen was given and another surgery had to be performed to deal with the swollen stomach that resulted. After 2 operations now he was being returned to the recovery room when the elevator jammed. They decided to transfer the man to a stretcher to get him out of the elevator and while doing this an intern slipped and the man dropped to the floor of the elevator breaking his arm and collar bone, he immediately started gasping for air and so they rushed him into his third surgery ... a tracheotomy! After all this the doctors had completely forgotten about his corn which still existed untouched! This guy had reasons to be depressed! – Source Unknown
At other times, depression is more a problem of perspective than of objective reality. Depression is our reaction to the circumstances of life around us, good or bad ... perceived correctly or incorrectly. Sometimes even good news can be overwhelmed by bad news and depression can still result:
ILLUS: Like the doctor who told his patient: “I have good news and bad news for you, what would you like first?” The patient said, “Give me the good news first.” The doctor said, “You've only got 3 weeks to live.” The patient was shocked at this being the good news and said, “If that's the good news, what's the bad new?” The doctor responded, “I should have told you 2 weeks ago!” – Source Unknown
All joking aside, depression can grip the human heart so strongly that the individual loses all sense of balance and perspective ... this then can play havoc with faith, love, relationships, and can warp a person’s entire sense of well being. GOD HOWEVER HAS GIVEN WAYS TO ESCAPE THE HORRORS OF DEPRESSION.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that there is a road out of depression ... this road must be traveled to find deliverance however, the path is there but we must take it!
1. DESCRIPTION OF DEPRESSION 19:1-18
A. Panic! 19:1-3
1. Ironically, depression often hits shortly following great success situations!
a. Elijah’s depression hit immediately after a great victory! He was just coming away from a great successful event, overcoming the prophets of Baal – and depression hit hard!
b. He discovers a certain strange reality; successful ministry often brings about opposition and with it depression!
c. Great trials are often the result of successful ministry; it riles Satan when he is beaten down!
2. The result of Elijah’s success in ministry was the basis of the death threats of Jezebel. She planned to take his life within 24 hours!
a. Elijah taunted the 450 prophets of Baal, teasing them by accusing Baal of sleeping, he teased the prophets about their missed prayers suggesting Baal might have gone to the bathroom at the moment (see emphasis in text next) ... (Notice the statement he uses: "About noontime Elijah began mocking them. You'll have to shout louder," he scoffed, "for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or he is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or he is asleep and needs to be wakened!" 1 Ki. (NLT) … he was quite brave before these opponents; why then fear one woman named Jezebel now?
b. His emotional energy had been spent on the first event; perhaps his reserves were now low.
3. The result was panic, fear, an early warning system of depression.
4. These are the warning signs of emotional trauma that encourages depression.
5. Unfortunately fear causes us to do many stupid things that may actually make our depression worsen!
a. Like isolation ... Elijah runs for his life and leaves his servant so he can be alone!
b. This is one of the most effective methods for INSURING depression's hold on you!
c. This isolation ... self imposed, will begin a whole string of mistakes that will only build the depression and make it drive deeper in his soul!
d. The results of this fear and isolation will be a series of irrational responses that will only result in much wasted time and energy, depression will usually drive us to do counterproductive things!
ILLUS: Like the old parable of a certain man who one day was confronted face to face with Death. As the Angel of Death approached him he noticed in Death's face a strange look of surprise, but the Death Angel passed by him without saying a word and without incident. With great fear the man sought out a wise man who could explain to him the strange meeting with Death. The wise man told him that Death had probably arrived a day early to claim his soul the next day there in town ... that he should flee to a far away city to avoid the meeting with death. So the man drove to the farthest point like a madman ... covering a distance greater than any man had every covered up to that point in time. When he settled in for the night he congratulated himself on having eluded Death! Just then, Death came up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. Death said, “Excuse me, but I have come for you.” The frightened man thus exclaimed, “Why, I thought I saw you yesterday near my home, you should have missed me!” Death said, “Exactly, remember the confused look on my face then ... the reason why I looked confused is because I was told to meet you here in this far-away city today and I couldn't believe it when I saw you in your home town yesterday ... but now everything is as it should be, let's go.” His fear had only made his situation worse! – Source Unknown
B. Physical 19:4-9
1. Elijah's depression was encouraged by several physical issues, ones that we must realize if we are to discourage depression finding a hold on our hearts and mind.
2. Leading up to the moment:
a. Elijah had acted alone even though in Chapter 18 Obadiah had told him there were 100 prophets of God he himself had hidden for safety reasons.
b. Elijah had not eaten properly ... he had skipped meals, poor nutrition thus the result of being keyed up emotionally, true with both good and bad emotions!
c. He skipped a great deal of sleep ... running long distances over very short periods of time, just going from Mount Carmel to Beersheba was about 100 miles!
d. Lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of company, lack of emotional balance: (great highs to great lows -- fear), lack of prayer, (didn't pray about this trip at all!) lack of faith, (trusted God against prophets of Baal but not against Jezebel!) all this created a lack of perspective!
3. These physical dynamics needed addressing in order to deal with the other issues, thus God begins to meet the physical needs first!
a. After sitting down he finally prays for the first time since Mount Carmel's prayer for fire and water ... except that this prayer is way off balance! It is a prayer to die! (*note: a prayer that God has never yet answered yet for Elijah ... he never did die! He was translated directly to heaven without experiencing death! Thank God for unanswered prayers sometimes!)
b. God lets him sleep for a period of time and has a meal waiting for him when he is awakened by an angel ... he needed to eat something to return strength to his body!
c. He evidently only nibbles on this food and falls asleep again. God allows this for some time then awakens him again and tells him to get up and finish eating. 19:6-8
d. It is interesting that when he went into the desert he took no food or water, a dumb thing to do physically. God however met those needs!
e. God also meets his need of shelter by providing a cave for him to sleep in, a place of safety!
C. Perspectives 19:1-18
1. After having now met the physical needs and allowing Elijah to catch up on sleep and safety ... God begins to probe his emotional needs, to restore perspective.
2. The first issue to deal with was
why Elijah had not conferred with God about where he was suppose to be, God had
not sent him into the desert, God had sent him to minister to
a. The first question by God then is “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, ELIJAH?”
b. God's point was probably to get Elijah to admit his need, to recognize and face realistically his problem of depression!
c. One cannot be rescued if they don't admit their problem!
3. Elijah however didn't admit his need, only that he had been very zealous for the Lord and that he was the only man of God in the whole nation!
a. This must have made his friend Obadiah feel really good!
b. What about the 100 prophets of God Obadiah had told him about earlier; they were still very much alive ... Elijah was just wallowing in self-pity and refused to see the other faithful servants of God!
c. God had a problem on his hands; Elijah wasn't facing up to the real issues here!
4. Elijah was mad because Israel didn't respond even after great miracles had taken place, at least they didn't respond the way he thought they should!
a. God tries to speak to Elijah that miracles are fine for drama but it is the Word of God alone that will speak life to God's people!
b. God sends wind, earthquake, and then fire ... but God was not found in any of these spectacular things, God was found in the gentle whisper, the Work of the Kingdom would be accomplished through God's Word, not through spectacular miracles!
c. The spectacular events only got the peoples' attention ... it would be the Word of God that would bring them life and revival!
5. Does Elijah get the message? NO! Same response from the same question by God reveals the stubborn refusal to see the truth! 19:13-14
6. God takes a more direct approach to correct Elijah's depression, He outright commands Elijah to return the way he came! 19:15
a. Rather than spend hours on end trying to deal with his feelings God gives him a job to do, to restore purpose to his life and ministry!
b. Purpose and mission would help restore perspective and start the healing process of depression!
c. Too often this is where people get bogged down; they spend countless hours trying to explore feelings and their past and don't move beyond this point. They then get trapped at this stage in their depression, there needs to be some constructive measures taken to begin movement toward healing even if you still want to explore your feelings! DO SOMETHING POSITIVE, PUT PURPOSE BACK IN YOUR LIFE ... START TO MINISTER TO OTHERS!
II. DESIGNS OF DELIVERANCE 19:3-21
A. Practical 19:3-9
1. Let's look at what God does for Elijah:
a. Feeds him.
b. Allows him rest.
c. Finds him a secure place providing safety ... a sheltered cave in a neutral territory.
d. God spends time with him.
e. God challenges his distorted perspectives firmly but with love and acceptance of him as a person!
f. God tries to restore Elijah's faith by appealing to the simple basics of faith, the gentile whisper as opposed to the desire for the dramatic.
g. When exploring feelings doesn't solve the problem God assigns a task for Elijah to do … restoring usefulness and purpose back to his life.
h. God takes the focus off the past and puts it on the future ... “anoint kings” ... etc. “and anoint Elisha to succeed you...”
i. God reminds Elijah that he is NOT alone ... there are 7,000 other faithful servants who love the Lord like he does!
j. Assures Elijah that he will no longer have to minister alone, God would grant him a partner of like faith and commitment! (Thank God for marriage partners like this too!)
2. These are some of the things we too can do for others who are struggling with depression!
3. So often we want supernatural deliverances from depression ... but even God used many "practical" and "normal" processes for bringing healing to Elijah; so can we!
ILLUS: Like the story of a Chinese Confucian scholar who had converted to Christianity, he told this story: "A man fell into a deep dark pit with slimy sides that made it impossible to climb out. Confucius came along and said to the man, "If you had listened to me, you would never have got in there!" This didn't help the man however! Next Buddha came along and said to the man, "Poor fellow, if you'll come up here I'll help clean you up." He too left the man in the pit. [Marquardt's additions]: Next came modern philosophers, they said, "Why do you think these pits exist like this? ... Who do you think made them? ... What's it like down there? ... Do you think you will ever get out? ... if not, is there any meaning you can glean from the experience?" Then came the counselors, "What do you think happened to you in your childhood that made you wander into these pits? ... How did you feel about falling into the pit? ... How would you feel if you could be rescued? How would you feel about not ever being rescued? ... How do you feel about those who are not in the pit with you?" Then came Jesus Christ, He said, "poor fellow!" … And He jumped down into the pit and let the man out by using Himself to help the man escape! – Source Unknown
B. Patience 19:9-15
1. Notice God allows some significant time for this process of healing to take place!
a. Depression rarely disappears instantly, it usually is a process!
b. Notice how things begin to look up after a good nights sleep!
2. God has great patience with us in restoring us, THANK GOD FOR THIS!
3. Allow yourself some time when healing from depression, don't take an extended vacation of depression, but do allow some reasonable time!
4. The process of "TRANSFORMATION" can be time consuming, that's ok as long as the process continues.
5. God is quite capable of transforming the worst "dirty rags" into valuable stock if we will stick to the process!
ILLUS: In England there is a factory that creates the finest stationery in the world. A visit to the factory however will surprise you, as one man discovered one day while going through the factory. What he saw was huge piles of dirty old rags! He was told that these were the main ingredient in determining the fine quality of the stationery! He just refused to believe this was possible. About 2 weeks after visiting that factory he received a package from the company of some of the finest stationery he had ever seen with his initials embossed on it. On the top piece were written these words, "DIRTY RAGS TRANSFORMED" … written by the man who sent the package from the factory! It was an amazing transformation, but it took time and effort! – Source Unknown
C. Partnership 19:14-18
1. Another avenue of God's healing for Elijah was to confront him with the "aloneness" issue!
a. Elijah had chosen this method of dealing with depression. Obadiah had told him about 100 fellow prophets “I hid a hundred of the Lord's prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water.” 1 Ki … these were men he could have fellowshipped with for mutual strength!
b. God now tells him about 7,000 other such saints scattered all through the kingdom, some of which he could have bumped into somewhere in Israel had he stayed in Israel instead of going out of the Kingdom and hiding in the desert!
c. This is a common error on the part of those who are depressed, they run from their brother and sisters in Christ!
2. Isolating yourself is not likely to bring spiritual strength back to your system!
ILLUS: Those who live an idle lifestyle have more problems with "BLOOD PRESSURE, WEIGHT PROBLEMS, CHOLESTEROL, ATROPHY IN MUSCLE GROUPS, METABOLISM IMBALANCES, ETC. This happens spiritually also! – Source Unknown
3. Depression is conquered much more easily in fellowship than it is in an isolated room where self-pity distorts reality!
4. It is much easier to climb out of a pit with someone else's help than doing it alone!
D. Personal! 19:19-21
1. The final gift of God in helping Elijah overcome his depression was giving him a close personal friend like Elisha!
2. The days of single prophet ministry was coming to an end ... indeed many of the ministries of God's servants as time went by was done in two's ... we need others to be all that we can be ... “in God's army!”
3. Elisha was plowing when Elijah showed up to get him ... even though the man was probably wealthy he was found working! God seldom calls those who are idle!
4. This was the final stage of healing Elijah's depression, the cap on a process of restoring the perspectives of a wonderful servant of God who fell into depression!
a. This depression didn’t destroy the final decision to take Elijah straight to heaven without dying; our moments of depression won't disqualify us for heaven either.
b. God knew the kind of friend Elijah needed and He steered him right to him!
5. Each of these steps are designs for deliverance; followed they will lead us out of depression!
CONCLUSION: God does have a program for dealing with depression! When those steps are taken they will lead us out of the pit of depression that even the godliest of people can experience at times in their lives! It is depressing to see people fail to take those steps, why continue in misery when you don't have to.