Last week I began to share about one of my favourite people from the Bible, Elijah. In part 1, I spoke about the circumstances that led to Elijah’s depression and how it left him in a place of deep sorrow where he completely withdrew, slept and even prayed to die. God did not rebuke or discipline him, but knowing how fragile he was, He met Elijah at his place of need.
He did not leave Elijah in the pit….
Verse 7 tells us that the angel came to Elijah and woke him up saying,”Get up, eat some more food, or the journey will be too much for you.” As I think of this command, it strikes me that the food or sustaining resource that we need to partake of, as we begin our journey of healing, is a loving support group, counselling, medication, healthy diet, exercise, ‘metime’, and lots of prayer support.
God sent an angel to feed Elijah as he lay in that place of desolation.
This gave him enough strength to travel for forty days and forty nights. Oh my word! I can handle an hour long hike – maybe two if I have a nice lunch break half way. But forty days AND forty nights……about a 200 mile journey or more. NO ways!
Interestingly, the distance and amount of time in this verse reminds us that the “journey through blue” towards healing from depression, is not an overnight thing. It takes time. Sometimes the journey is easy going along a level path with beautiful scenery, sometimes it is uphill and we find ourselves stumbling over rocks and getting tangled up in bushes with sharp thorns.
But we have to keep hope knowing that God is faithful to complete the good work that He began in us.
I’m pretty sure that the angel of God would have led Elijah to the holy place on Mt. Sinai, where Elijah would have a life changing encounter with God Almighty. God never leaves us on our own. He is always with us to lead us and to guide us – He is the Good Shepherd.
It’s interesting to note that God led Elijah to Mt.Sinai of all places. Why Mt. Sinai? What is the significance of this location? Mt. Sinai was the sacred place where God had met Moses and given him the Ten Commandments. He took Elijah back to the beginning. The foundation, the roots of how Israel would be in relationship with Yahweh.
In the depths of my depression, I felt so removed from God.
It was as if He was a stranger to me. Our relationship was broken. I was angry with God and did not want to go to church, read my Bible and could not bring myself to worship in song. Of course, this made me feel like a First Class Hypocrite (bring on some more guilt why don’t you!). I was a pastor, what would people think or say if they saw me turn my back on being in relationship with God? Just as God did with Elijah, He had to take me back to the basics, to remind me of the days of my ‘first love’ for Him.
On Mt. Sinai, God got straight to the root of Elijah’s depression,”What are you doing here Elijah?”
We cannot begin our journey of healing until we acknowledge the place of our deepest hurt, disappointment or fear. This is why counselling is SO important in our journey. In our depressive state, we are emotionally very vulnerable and an easy target for Satan, who fills us with lies about ourselves and about God’s faithfulness to us. In order to correct this, God began the process of shattering every lie with a revelation of the Truth. What were they?
Lie number one: God has abandoned me.
God showed Elijah that He was All Powerful and that He could move and work in dramatic and earth shattering ways (literally), but at that moment, He was present in the sound of a gentle whisper. A whisper speaks of intimacy. To hear someone whispering, we need to get close up to them, to enter their ‘personal space’. God was inviting Elijah into His personal space, into a place of intimacy where the relationship between them could be restored. Back to basics.
Lie number two: I am alone and forsaken. I no longer have a functioning role in my world.
God tells Elijah that he is not all alone – there are in fact still 7000 believers who are alive and that God will give him a ministry partner in Elisha. From now on he would have support and community, because yes, he still had a significant role to play in God’s plan. I can imagine Elijah”s heart begin to soar as God outlined the plan of action for him. There would have been a spark of hope that tomorrow would be a new beginning, a reason to hope once more.
What new mission has God given me? YOU!
My new calling? To minister to moms who struggle with Postnatal Depression, just as I do.
From my heart,