SOUTHGATE, MI – So last month we were reminded that some of the most powerful people in Scripture battled what we would call depression. David who was a great war hero (defeated Goliath) and would become a great King of Israel, wrote a lot of the Psalms while battling the incredible rollercoaster of his feelings. In fact, he talks of having a “Crushed Spirit!” BUT, he knows that’s NOT where he is supposed to stay, and in fact, he believes that God is the only one who can put the pieces back together for him. Then when it comes to Elijah – he is on top of the mountain one day (literally and figuratively) and then 24 hours later he has reached the depths of despair. But it is interesting how God deals with him. After showing up and showing off just as Elijah asked for the day before (sent fire from heaven after one prayer – check it out – I Kings 18!) He now hears Elijah talk about being the only one left and wanting to call it quits! Seems like a good spot for God to smack him upside the head and tell him to put his big boy pants on! But that’s not how God handles it. Instead he restores him physically, prepared him for a journey, gives him an opportunity to be in His presence, and then gives him a job to do and prepares for Elijah’s legacy to live on. It is an amazing story of the Grace of God and the gentleness with which He often deals with His children. Isn’t that encouraging to you? God is not sitting up in Heaven with a big stick waiting to club you over the head. He loves us, even with all our imperfections. At the same time, because He loves us, His desire is for us to experience the best that He has for us. And when we back away from that – for whatever the reason, He is going to endeavor to move us back to where we need to be. With that in mind, let me share some quick practical steps we can learn from this encounter with Elijah.
Don’t Allow the Negative words of some to keep you from the positive promises of God!
Elijah allowed the words of Queen Jezebel to push him to the brink. When others say “You Can’t” – God says “No, but I Can!”
Keep yourself from the Progression of Depression and avoid isolation.
We were meant to live in Community. Don’t try to go it alone!
Physical Exhaustion can lead to Mental and Spiritual Exhaustion.
Elijah had to be whipped and probably not taking decent care of himself.
Give Yourself an Experience to look forward to.
God had Elijah rest and eat because he was preparing him for a trip. It doesn’t have to be anything overwhelming, but something to look forward to is always a positive.
Sometimes God takes us OUT of a situation, but most times He takes us THROUGH it.
This was a process for Elijah. It seems like God could have handled it in a day, but he wanted him to learn in the process. Expect improvement gradually, not immediately.
Don’t allow exaggeration of your condition or situation.
We often times make life out to be far worse than it is. Elijah did that even in his conversation with God.
When we magnify God, we put our problems in perspective.
Problems, difficulties, and even depression don’t necessarily go away – but when we MAGNIFY God, it makes everything else smaller. When we magnify the problem……well you get it!
Don’t forget the wonderful resources that NAMB and the BSCM have available. There is a Pastor’s Hotline – 1-844-Pastor1 (1-844-727-8671). The conversation stays confidential, and it gives you a safe, secure place to talk and share. There is also a collaborative effort at www.care4pastors.com. Combining the resources of Lifeway, Focus on the Family, and Great Commandment ministries, this website gives you insight, sermons, a calendar of events for couples and other great tools to help you navigate the waves that ministry brings. Take advantage of these, plus the encouragement that comes from BSCM with the Pastor’s Conference, CEC, Galatians 6 retreats, and may I encourage you to come to the FREE DATE NIGHTS put on by BSCM and Lifeway. They will be Thursday, April 20th in DeWitt, MI and Friday, April 21st in Wyandotte, MI. It’ll be one of those events you can look forward to! All of these opportunities have a purpose in moving you forward in your relationships, your ministry, and your personal life.
And one more thing! The more Broken you are, the more valuable you can be – because it is in our weakness, that God’s strength can be revealed. He’s not through with you. I leave you with this thought.
“God hasn’t brought me this far……to bring me this far!” He’s not finished with you, there’s more in store. Look to Him for strength and restoration.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Billy Walker is the lead Pastor of Calvary Church in Southgate, MI. He serves as the President of the BSCM Pastor’s Conference, and the Vice President of the Billy Walker Evangelistic Association. He lives in the downriver Detroit area with his wife Laurie. You can read more at www.billywalker.org.