Have you been fatigued lately … tired out from too much input … depressed because everything seems to be piling on top of your shoulders? Have you been under attack from people around you … maybe someone you thought was a friend?
Look at this picture of how God helped Elijah at such a time as you may be going through. My pastor delivered a sermon on this several Sundays ago and it has been hanging around in my head ever since. It was so good and relevant to what is happening in my life and in my wife’s life right now that I have to share it.
Background: Elijah and the Priests of Baal
The story is found in 1 Kings 19. Here is a summary of what went on before the scripture we are focusing on. (1 Kings 18:17-19:3):
Elijah had set up a challenge with Ahab, King of Israel, to show the people that Yahweh is the true living God. He had Ahab summon 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah. The challenge was to build an alter and call upon Baal to bring fire to the wood and the offering piled upon it. Elijah was to do the same and call upon God to send fire down upon the offering. The alter that was engulfed in flame would prove which god was God.
The prophets of Baal danced and chanted and cried out to Baal from morning to night, with no answer. After much crying aloud to Baal and dancing and cutting of their flesh (and a bit of taunting from Elisha) they gave up. Then Elijah placed the offering on the wood on his altar and had men pour water over the sacrifice, literally soaking it and then adding more so that a ditch dug around the alter was filled. Then he prayed.
Then fire of God fell, consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
When the people saw it they fell on their faces and worshiped God. These are the people of the kingdom. Elijah had an audience of common, everyday folk to witness this in addition to the presence of Ahab and all the prophet of Baal and Asherah.
Elijah commanded the people to seize the prophets of Baal and he killed each and every one of them with a sword. Ahab went back to the palace and told his wife, Jezebel and she swore to kill Elijah. When Elijah heard what the queen had said he became afraid and ran for his life.
Now, this is where I really want to start. Look at 1 Kings 19:4. It is curious that he ran out of fear for his life after just proving to the people of Israel that Baal was a false god and that Yahweh was the only true living God and in addition, he killed all the prophets of Baal – 450 of them. He is like the bravest of the brave and a hero to believers everywhere. But yet, he ran out of fear.
Worn-down and Beat-up
Now we find him, sitting by a tree. He is alone and feeling like he has no friends and that there is no one to help him. He says he is no better than his ancestors who turned their backs on God time after time. He is asking God to take his life because he has had enough – he can’t take anymore. Isn’t this a perfect picture of fatigue and depression? And can any of us blame Elijah for being tired?
We have all been in that situation. We work and push and go, go, go until something snaps. Then, on top of the constant pushing to get things done, a second element of criticism and even betrayal may be added to really complicate things. All of a sudden, you are worn-down and beat up and you don’t even know how it all started or how you arrived at this place.
God’s Treatment for Depression
Read 1 Kings 19:5-9. This passage describes God’s treatment is for being worn-out, beat-down and depressed:
First, God allowed him to rest. Elijah slept (verse 5), which is really the root of the problem of many ailments. We sometimes get so tired we don’t know which way is up and we can’t deal with anything – especially surprises.
Second, God gave him something to eat. An angel came to Elijah and prepared him food so he could gain back his strength. Today, we have fast food joints and mini-markets where we can grab a quick bite to get us through the hour or the rest of the day. That doesn’t mean it is good for us. and this is Elijah’s problem, too. (Instead of the junk food, I suspect he just didn’t eat anything.) Sugar and empty carbohydrates don’t help us to feel good and healthy and ready to take on the world. They do just the opposite – they put us in a sugar funk when they have been depleted.
Third, God made him rest again and woke him to another meal. Here is God’s treatment for depression and discouragement: rest and eat nutritious food and rest some more.
The bible tells us that it was on this second meal that Elijah walked for 40 days and 40 nights to get to the place God wanted him.
How God continued to help Elijah
God didn’t just help Elijah out of his depression and give his some food to eat and then send him on his way – no! There’s more to the story of how God solved the situation for Elijah so he wouldn’t feel so all alone and I encourage you to read this whole section of 1 Kings because it is very encouraging.
In a nutshell, here is how God continued to see to Elijah’s emotional, physical and mental well-being:
He was given the names of three men to contact. One of these men would succeed him in his work to the Lord (this was Elisha) and the other two were men whom he would crown as Kings to take handle the issue of Ahab and Jezebel and all those who followed them. God continued to provide for Elijah through these men He placed around him for protection and help.
God took care of Elijah and protected him, provided for his physical needs and his emotional and mental needs as well, not only in the short term, but into the future as well. The fact is, we can have this care, too. All we need to do is place our trust in God and all will be taken care of. It is difficult, I know, because our human, worldly nature says we can do this on our ow and everything will be fine. But this is a lie whispered in our ear. The problem may appear to go away, but it is only for a short while, if it does, because Satan is there to tear us down and break us, trying to turn us from God. Don’t let it happen!
Grab onto the hem of Jesus’ robe and hang on for dear life because that is exactly what is at stake! You hold on – He knows you’re there and He will help.
May God protect and keep you.