Overcoming Hard Times 5 - Elijah: Overcoming Depression 1 Kings 19:1-18
"There Is A Fountain" was one of the first hymns Cowper wrote
after his first attack of depression and mental illness. Cowper had been promised a post as Clerk in
the House of Lords, and but was dismayed upon learning he would have to undergo
a public examination.
As the time drew nigh, his agony became more and more
intense; he hoped and believed that madness would come to relieve him; he
attempted also to make up his mind to commit suicide. On the day before his
public appearance was to be made He rushed into the fields, determined to die
in a ditch, but the thought struck him that he might escape from the
country. With the same violence he
proceeded to make hasty preparations for his flight; but while he was engaged
in packing his mind changed, and he threw himself into a coach, ordering the
man to drive to the Tower wharf, intending to throw himself into the
river. On approaching the water, he
found a porter seated upon some goods: he then returned to the coach and was
conveyed to his lodgings. On the way he
attempted to drink the laudanum (poison), but as often as he raised it, a convulsive
agitation prevented it from reaching his lips; and thus, he arrived, half dead
with anguish, at his apartment. He then
shut the doors and threw himself upon the bed with the laudanum near him,
trying to lash himself up to the deed; but a voice within seemed constantly to
forbid it, and as often as he extended his hand to the poison, his fingers were
contracted and held back by spasms.
The rest of the day was spent in heavy insensibility, and at
night he slept as usual; but on waking at three in the morning, he took his
penknife and lay with his weight upon it, the point toward his heart. It was broken and would not penetrate. At day break he arose, and passing a strong
garter around his neck, fastened it to the frame of his bed: this gave way with
his weight, but on securing it to the door, he was more successful, and
remained suspended till he had lost all consciousness of existence. After a time the garter broke and he fell to
the floor, so that his life was saved.; but the conflict had been greater than
his reason could endure. He felt for
himself a contempt not to be expressed or imagined; whenever he went into the
street, it seemed as if every eye flashed upon him with indignation and scorn;
he felt as if he had offended God so deeply that his guilt could never be
forgiven, and his whole heart was filled with tumultuous pangs of despair. Madness was not far off, or rather madness
was already come.
After recovering, Cowper began reading the book of Romans
and came to realize how God can erase the stain of any sin. After his release,
Cowper resided in Huntingdon with the family of a Reverend Unwin. Upon Unwin's
death, John Newton came to comfort the family, and he convinced Mrs. Unwin, her
children, and Cowper to move to Olney where he lived.
The period at Olney was a time of healing and spiritual
growth for Cowper. Newton urged Cowper to serve Olney's poor, probably in an
effort to take Cowper's mind off his depressions, poor health, paranoia, and
fears of damnation. He also convinced Cowper to write hymns for the parish's
prayer meetings. The result was Olney Hymns (1779), which contained 348
hymns--68 by Cowper, who still suffered a relapse and was unable to finish his work.
Three of his best-known works are "There Is a Fountain," "Safely through Another Week," and "O for a Closer Walk with God." His famous hymn "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" was written about the time of another bout of mental illness, during which Cowper again attempted suicide. Despite this, John Newton said of him, "I can hardly form an idea of a closer walk with God than he uniformly maintained." - North American Review, January, 1834
Causes of Elijah's Depression I Kings 19:1-4
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he 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.
Not a simple moodiness or bad feeling but a state of depression.
It colored and influenced everything in Elijah's life.
It was no longer just a reaction to things happening in his life, but now the depression had taken a life of its own.
His depression was caused by..
Opposition, stress and conflict vs. 2
Physical fatigue vs. 3
Burnout vs. 4
Anger vs. 5
Other causes of depression. -
Physical: lack of sleep, improper diet, drugs, sickness,
Life: trails, shocks, traumas, job, finances, loss of family or friends.
Stress: overwork, burnout, perfectionism.
Sin: guilt due to
unconfessed sin can lead to depression, but pleas note, depression in itself is not a sin.
Illustration: Moses Numbers 11:10-15
10 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased. 11 And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? 12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers? 13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. 14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.
Consequences of Elijah’s Depression - I Kings 19:3-4,10, 15-16
Depression Changed And Cost Elijah.
Withdrawal Vs. 3. 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
Loss Of Motivation Vs. 4a But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree:
Death Wish Vs. 4b and he 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.
Fear, Doubt, False Beliefs Vs. 10 10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
Loss Of Usefulness Vs. 15-16 15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
Illustration: Funeral of Suicide Victim
Have you ever attended the funeral of a person who has
committed suicide? There is no sadder
funeral. I once attended the funeral of
a young man who had committed suicide at only 18. He was a Christian, attended church, in fact
his father was one of my professors in Bible college.
It was almost impossible to have something comforting to say to the family who
had found their son dead by his own hand. You could almost feel the depression that forced this young man to such
despair spreading over every person who attended the service. His depression had been growing for months is not years, there was substance abuse, bad relationships and a breakup. In the end his depression was stronger than his hope. Never underestimate how dangerous depression can be if not dealt with, especially with God guidance.
Cure of Elijah's Depression
Contact With Uplifting People. Vs. 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him,
Proper Food. Vs. 5 and said unto him, Arise and eat.
Retreat To Regroup Vs. 7-8 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. 8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
Get Busy. "What Are You Doing Here." Vs.. 13, 15,16
Talk With God.
Pour Out Your Heart To God. Ps.102:1-11 (A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.) 1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. 2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. 3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth. 4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. 5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. 7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top. 8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, 10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. 11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.
Then Receive God's Comfort
Isaiah 40:27-31. 27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Think Straight Not Depressed.
Vs.. 18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
Don’t let depression direct your thoughts, instead let God's wisdom and Word direct.
When you are depressed, don’t do what you feel, do what you should.
Be with people who will uplift you. (church)
Don't neglect your physical needs. (eat, sleep, and exercise.)
Do something for someone else. (nursing home, good deed, act of kindness.)
Talk with God. Trust His word, His love,
As a Child of God, don’t feel, but think your way through.
Illustration: Jeremiah's answer from God. Jeremiah 12:1-5.
1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? 2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. 3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. 4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end. 5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustest, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
God's answer cheer up it's going to get worse, but I am with you. As Romans 8:31 tells us, if God be for us, who can be against us?
Conclusion: A Friend In Jesus
So, how are you feel today? How is your emotional, spiritual health in the middle of all that is happening? Are you dealing with the hurt, anger, pain and disappointment or are those things dealing you into a state of depression? If you are feeling down, and don’t feel up to the fight. Understand, as a child of God, you are not in this alone. It is always time to let Jesus help you overcome. Time to gain some heavenly, Biblical perspective and seek God’s help and take control of your emotions, your mind and your heart.
You also should have some uplifting
people around you. That's what a church family is for. That’s what good friends
and family are for. Know that they are with you, praying for you, looking out
for you and trusting the Lord to lift you up.