I never thought it would be me. I have always been a fairly happy, go with the flow kind of person. Never one to get down and stay down too long. If ever I was down in the dumps one of those good cries where you're wiping snot off with your sleeve and your head aches for 2 days after, would be good enough for me. I would wake up every morning feeling like it was a new, fresh start. I would ridicule and mock those who struggled with depression, quoting verses and giving a pat on the back, with little sympathy for their situation. That is until depression snuck up on me and would not go away. All the sudden I had a new found empathy for people who couldn't just shake it off. All the sudden I could see that you can literally have everything you've ever wanted and know exactly how blessed you are... and still be sad.
I can't speak for everyone. I won't pretend to have any answers. I know that the reasons for depression are many and varied. This is just a post coming from someone who has been sad a time or two and who has found comfort in God's Word.
Throughout the Bible you will see many examples of people who have suffered from bouts of sadness. People who were used by God in big ways to do amazing things, but also suffered from seasons of sadness. I could give you many examples, the one we all know best is Job and there is a lot to glean from Job's life or even Hannah distraught because the Lord had closed her womb. Jonah when God gave him a mission that he didn't want. David grieving over the loss of his infant son. Sarah waiting a lifetime for a son and not seeing that promise fulfilled. There are many examples in the Bible, but the one I want to focus on today is Elijah.
Elijah was a powerful prophet of God. Throughout the story of his life in 1 Kings we see many examples of Elijah calling down miracles from heaven. Bringing a young man back from the dead, commanding a 3 year drought and standing strong against an evil King and his more evil wife. We see him call down fire from heaven in a contest to prove who is the one, true God. We see him slay the 450 false prophets of Baal. We see him pray and God send the rain... But as is God's way we see Elijah's humanity and weakness. After a huge victory and miraculous display of God's power we see Elijah run and hide.
I Kings 19:4-5 "But He himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and requested for himself that he might die; and said 'It is enough; now, O, Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And he lay down under a juniper tree and slept..."
Elijah had just witnessed God display his power in an extraordinary way. He had just had a great personal victory and where do we see him next? Running and hiding and laying down and begging for God to bring the end. I would die laughing right here at the absurdity, if I had not done the same thing myself too many times to count.
God sends an angel to comfort Elijah. The angel says "Arise and eat." and a second time encourages Elijah to arise and eat and then the Angel says "because the journey is too great for you."
Sometimes the journey is too great for us. God himself says we can't do it in our own strength. Sometimes the pain is too great. Sometimes the situation is more than we can bear. I've heard it said God won't give you more than you can bear, but in this verse we see that the angel acknowledges that this is too much for Elijah.
Maybe you have felt that way before? Maybe you feel that way now. You really don't know how you can keep going. You're tired of fighting. You're tired of trying. You just want to lay down and rest awhile. God knows.
The angel touched him, and said unto him, "Arise and eat." And he looked and there in front of him was a cake baked on coals and a jar of water. And He ate and drank and laid down again.
I believe that bread and water represents Christ. The Bible says that Jesus is the bread of life and the living water. I believe that for us who are in Christ there are times and seasons where the journey is too great. Times where people will tell you to just get over it. Times where the only thing that sustains us is the Spirit of God who dwells within us. Sometimes comfort comes outside of ourselves because we can not bear to go on. Sometimes the urge to lay down is too great. But just like Elijah we still have a journey to take. We still have things we have to do. It's not time to lay down just yet. Heaven and being with God sounds so much better than keeping on going, but it's not time to stop.
I'm thankful that God is faithful to continue to pursue me just as he did with Elijah. Elijah ran, but God found him. Elijah gave up, but God comforted him and provided for his physical needs and gave him the strength to go on. God was faithful to Elijah and God has been faithful to me when I would rather lay down and die.
2 Cor 1:3-4 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the FATHER OF MERCIES, and the GOD OF ALL COMFORT; Who comforts us in all of our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted."
He comforts us so that we can comfort others. God has allowed me to go through seasons of sadness so that I can better understand how to comfort those who are going through the same thing. He has allowed me to feel the weight and burden of brokenness, so that I can better understand those who feel weighted down and heavy burdened.
You can see that Elijah got focused on himself. He got distracted from his mission when he focused on how all of this was personally affecting him. That's a natural, human response, but it's not the right one. I believe that's what happens to me. I am going along on my journey, trying to fulfill my mission and all the sudden I get distracted by how much this is costing me, then I get depressed and I lay down. How easily it is for me to forget that I still have a mission.
As I said in the beginning, I know there are many reasons for depression and this doesn't apply to many of you. Some of your depression is physical or results from painful things that have happened to you in the past. I feel your pain as well. God wants to comfort you in your pain. I don't want you to think that I think it's a simple matter... because it absolutely is not. However, many times for myself, Elijah and many others depression creeps in on me when I turn my focus inward.