Depression is one of the greatest problems in the world today. It has been called the common cold of emotional illnesses. Everyone gets depressed at times, but some people are depressed nearly all the time. And it’s not limited to poor people or people with physical ailments. Even great saints get depressed. Elijah was just such an example.
Elijah was a tremendous spokesman for God. For three years he had been God’s mouthpiece to the nation of Israel. All kinds of miracles had taken place, and there was a spiritual awakening throughout his nation, which had been mired in the worship of pagan idols.
One person who did not like Elijah was Jezebel, the queen of Israel. A very wicked woman, Jezebel hated Elijah because he had so much influence as a spokesman for the real God. After Elijah performed one particularly great miracle—calling down fire onto the altar on Mount Carmel—Jezebel’s husband, King Ahab, told her everything that Elijah had done. This made her so angry that she sent a message to Elijah, saying, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them” (1 Kings 19:2). She was saying, “If I don’t kill you within twenty-four hours, I’ll be ready to kill myself.”
Elijah, who had been fearless for three years, becomes frightened when one woman threatens his life, and he runs out to the desert and then gets depressed (vv. 3–5). He comes to a broom tree, sits down under it, and prays that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD…. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
DEPRESSED LIKE ELIJAH?
Elijah was a prime candidate for depression. He was physically tired, he was emotionally exhausted, and somebody had threatened his life. He was an emotional basket case at this point, with all kinds of problems: fear, resentment, guilt, anger, loneliness, and worry. But God says that “Elijah was a man just like us” (James 5:17). He had the same problems we do, and in this case he had a problem with depression.
Elijah was so depressed that he was ready to die. Why do we get ourselves into such emotional messes? Sometimes because of what happens to us, bad circumstances that occur in our lives. But more often because of faulty thinking. The fact is that our emotions are caused by our thoughts.
If you think in a negative way, you are going to feel depressed. Your emotions are caused by how you interpret life. If you look at life from a negative viewpoint, you’re going to get down.
If you want to get rid of negative emotions, you have to change the way you think. The Bible says that you can be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2). To overcome depression you must get your incorrect attitudes about life corrected. That’s why Jesus said that when you “know the truth … the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). If you look at things from the right point of view, that goes a long way toward not being depressed. The only way you can change your mind and emotions is by changing the way you think.
Rick Warren, God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
We have just released a new Bible Study based on Rick Warren’s book, God’s Answer to Life’s Difficult Questions.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
How to Cope with Stress
How Can I Rebound from Failure?
How Can I Defeat Depression?
How Can I Live Above Average?
How Can I Have Peace of Mind?
How Can I Handle Discouragement?
How Can I Overcome My Problems?
How Can I Be Confident In a Crisis?
How Can I Ever Change?
How Did I Get Myself in To This Mess?
How Can I Overcome Loneliness?
Why Is This Happening to Me?