Focal Passage: 1 Kings
One of the young ministers I
have mentored once said, “After I preach I get depressed.”
“Why?” I asked.
He added, “I
don’t know. Even if I believe I’ve done a good job and the people are
complimentary, I still feel that way. Is that the way it is for you each
This young minister had
experienced what is common, not only in ministerial life, but in any kind of
life dedicated to excellence. It is an experience Elijah had on the backside of
his mountaintop victory at Carmel. Following his major victory over the gods of
Baal and Asherah, Elijah is running low on spiritual energy and is confronted by Queen Jezebel, the
major antagonist of his ministry. He collapses into a state of depression and
confesses suicidal thoughts.
1. Physical Exhaustion.
Elijah had run from Mt. Carmel to Jezreel, a 100-mile-trek (18:46), then from
Jezreel to Beersheba, and then another day in the desert (19:3-4). It is not
uncommon for depression to follow extraordinary bursts of exertion. Post-partum
syndrome is the classic example of extended labor followed by depression.
2. Endless Spiritual
Struggles. Most of us are capable of fighting one-time battles. It’s when we
discover the battles are endless that depression sets in. Elijah understandably
concluded the battle was over once he had settled scores with regional false
prophets. Nevertheless, Jezebel got word to him that she was going to do to him
what he did to her prophets (19:2). The battle wasn’t over.
3. Feelings of Loneliness.
Sometimes we feel as if we are the only ones who are faithful, the only ones
holding on to Christian morality, the only ones willing to serve on the
difficult committees of church life. We may feel like we’re the only one in the
marriage willing to forgive and start again.
Even after the Lord appeared
to him, Elijah wanted to quit, saying, “I am the only one left, and now they
are trying to kill me too” (19:10, 14). The fact was, there were at least 7,000
others “whose knees have not bowed down to Baal” (19:18).
How did God minister to
Elijah in the face of his depression?
An angel of the Lord came
and provided food and water for Elijah, followed by a good nap (19:5-8).
Second, God provided
spiritual nourishment by leading Elijah back to Mt. Horeb (Sinai), the holiest
place in Israel’s history where he heard God’s voice again (19:8).
Finally, he gave Elijah
opportunities to serve, having him anoint two kings and a prophet (19:15).
Listen for the voice of God in these places when you are