Depression: A Biblical Model for Healing

Let's not be afraid to share your deepest feelings with God and seek support from the body of Christ.

When depression takes hold, let’s remember that some of God’s greatest servants felt this kind of abandonment.

Most of us have times when we feel the bottom has dropped out of life. It's called depression. Darkness floods the soul. Despair follows. We may feel mired in a world of "sinking sand."

When that happens, let's try to remember that some of God's greatest servants felt this kind of abandonment. Take Elijah. The Lord had used him in miraculous ways, which culminated in his victorious confrontation with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah on Mount Carmel. Fire fell from heaven and consumed not only the sacrifice, but also the altar, the rocks, the dust, and the water that filled the crevasses. The children of Israel broke their silence and cried out, "Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!" (1 Kings 18:39).

To add to all this drama

To add to all this drama, the rains fell after three and a half years of drought, and Elijah ran ahead of King Ahab's chariot all the way to Jezreel -- about 20 miles in a blinding rainstorm. We might call this episode the first biblical marathon!

Then it happened. Queen Jezebel threatened Elijah's life, and he escaped into the desert where he wanted to die. He told the Lord that he had had enough (1 Kings 19:4). He was not only physically exhausted but also emotionally and spiritually depleted.

At that moment in Elijah's life, God began the process of restoration — a series of steps that took many days and weeks. First, God ministered to him physically with food and rest (1 Kings 19:5-6). Second, God eventually clarified Elijah's theological perspective — not to continue to rely on the miraculous (19:11-12). Third, God reassured Elijah he was not alone. There would be others to help him carry out the difficult task that lay before him (19:18). Fourth, God brought Elisha into his life to be his friend and close companion (19:20-21).

This is a great biblical model for dealing with depression. But we can also learn from David. He was open and vulnerable with the Lord — sharing his feelings of despair. Listen to his words: "LORD, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me?" (Ps. 13:1-2).

The point is this: Let's not be afraid to share our deepest feelings with the Lord. He knows them better than we do. And, He cares!

The Body of Christ

Let's remember that we have a unique advantage over both Elijah and David. We're members of the body of Jesus Christ. We can bear one another's burdens — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it" (1 Cor. 12:26).

When we are participating in a Christ-centered and loving church, we can experience the healing that comes when believers bear one another's burdens and pray for one another. This is what James had in mind. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect" (Jas. 5:16).

Medical Science

We have another advantage — even more so than Elijah and David as well as New Testament Christians. We live in a world where medical science has provided unusual help in many ways. Who is not thankful for plain old aspirin and other varieties of painkillers that bring relief to our physical bodies? Who among us is not thankful for medications that soothe both the body and the soul? And, when it comes to depression, we also have medications to help restore the chemical imbalances that often help with emotional healing. I'm confident that Dr. Luke, Paul's physician, would be the first to write a prescription for this kind of depression had he known what we know centuries later. This is one of God's gifts.

But, let's remember one very basic principle. Aloneness — in both body and soul — only adds to our pain and confusion. We need a sympathetic and listening ear — someone who cares, someone who understands, and someone who can advise and counsel us with wisdom and grace. Perhaps you are the one God will use to help set a captive free from a "dark night of the soul."

This article is courtesy of Mature Living magazine

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