During hardships, we often create an image of who we think God is, even though this image in most-often not true! Through the discouragement or depression, you may picture God as a stern teacher who is fed up with you, or a demanding boss yelling at you to get up and "do more" for Him, or even that God looks at you and shakes His head in disappointment at who you have become.
I have it on my heart to share my thoughts, as well as this important podcast about "Getting Unstuck from Depression", from Pastor James MacDonald, as there are many who struggle with this – including many Christians. The sermon podcast (linked here) centers around the Biblical character of Elijah – one of the most used men of God in the entire Bible. He was even chosen as one of the 3 people who stood transfigured with Jesus before He went to the Cross. Elijah was a STRONG man of God… yet he struggled with bouts of deep discouragement, even depression.
You may also, like Elijah, be a strong woman of God who struggles in this same way with discouragement or depression.
You may even feel super guilty that you deal with this and it effects the way you look at God, and how you imagine He is looking at you.
But let me be very very clear – this is not what GOD says about Himself and the way He is, and it’s certainly not the way He responded to Elijah through his seasons of depression. In the Bible story (found in 1 Kings 19), Elijah was a great prophet of God, but after an amazing day of ministry, he ran away in isolation and became very depressed. He wouldn’t eat and asked God a lot of "Why me?" questions. And what I want to know is what was God’s response to Elijah’s behavior?
First, God responded by sending an angel to feed him, encourage him, and to strengthen him for his next journey. God spoke to Elijah, not in a strong, demanding way as in the powerful wind, earthquake, or a fire. God came to him in a "gentle whisper". God was gently present with him through it all. In the end of the chapter, He gave Elijah a specific direction, a specific plan and purpose and also gave him a specific and practical solution – a helper (Elisha) to lighten his ministry load (which was one of Elijah’s complaints). And be sure to notice what God didn’t do – He didn’t give up on Elijah, He didn’t get mad at him, get sarcastic with him, lecture him, or tell him He was disappointed. Read 1 Kings 19 for yourself, it’s a beautiful chapter of God caring for His child, picking him up, and giving him a future purpose.
In Jeremiah 31:3-4, God says this about Himself – "I have loved you with an everlasting love… I have drawn you with loving-kindness…
I will build you up again…"
I hope this encourages you or anyone you know today who is struggling with depression. I hope we can allow our friends around us to be honest about their struggle and not expect everyone to be perfect Christian robots that never have a sad day or season. I hope when someone comes to us with their honesty, that we don’t immediately try to fix it (which will often shut someone down), but instead listen, and hug, and pray with them. Some things cannot be fixed right away. Some things can only be healed through time and prayer. But first steps of healing can begin todayand it starts with believing God is near and would love for YOU to come to Him. I’d also highly recommend listing to the sermon podcast for some very practical truths and wisdom on how to recognize when you’re entering discouragement (which can lead to depression) and how to get "unstuck" from it. Again, the sermon podcast is HERE.
Love & Blessings,