Dear Brethren,

Symptoms of Spiritual Depression

The Bible tells us that Elijah is a man of like passion as we are. In 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah in a depressed condition and even wanted to die. In the Bible, we see great man of God having to wrestle depression like David when he talked to himself “why art thou cast down on my soul?” In Church history, we also see man of God like Spurgeon and Martin Luther going through some degree of depression in their lives too.

Depression can strike us unexpectedly. For Elijah, it was just after his victory over the false prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel and God mightily answering his prayer to send rain after the period of drought.

The symptoms and results of depression in Elijah’s life are as follows:

(a) Physical and Mental Exhaustion

Elijah has exerted himself greatly in the battle with Baal prophets and may not have eaten at all during that period of intense struggle and battle.

(b) Forgetful of God’s Greatness and Power

Elijah acted as though God didn’t exist. He had so soon forgotten that God provided his meals during the period of drought and also answered his prayers to raise the widow’s son to life and to send fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice at Mount Carmel.

(c) Acting Illogically

Elijah, the Prophet of Fire, suddenly ran away from the threat of death and then pleaded to die.

(d) Feeling Insecure

Elijah ran to Judah which does not belong to Ahab and Jezebel. Although he was in a safe place yet he felt insecure. Depressed people will feel something bad will happen to them.

(e) Feeling a complete failure

Elijah said he was not better than his fathers.

(f) Becoming Introverted

Elijah was only thinking of himself. In v.14, it was all about ‘self’.

(g) No desire to live

This was the lowest point when Elijah wished God would take away his life. Man’s natural instinct is to live and fight to survive but a depressed person will lose the desire to live.

There is a complexity of factors that caused a person to be depressed. Physical exhaustion, mental pressure and moral failures are some factors. Even when we are achieving much for God like Elijah, there can be an anti-climax after the peak of success. Another key factor is Satanic attack on the person. For Elijah’s case, the demonic forces at work in Jezebel to destroy Elijah is real. But the main factor for Elijah’s depression is his spiritual failure. In v. 3, he saw and ran. He was acting by physical sight and circumstances and fled. There was no prayer and waiting on God for leading. He did not depend on God to protect him at all. The emphasis was only “self” as seen in v.14.

How to Overcome Spiritual Depression?

Only God can do it and He did it for Elijah as follows :

(a) God provided food and rest for Elijah when he ran away.

(b) God sent an angel to strengthen him – the angel ministered to him and did not question him at all. This was the mental rest for Elijah.

(c) God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice, not in fire, earthquake. God deals gently with Elijah.

(d) God showed to Elijah there was a future for him. He would have a successor in Elisha and there were 7000 people who had not bowed to Baal.

There is hope for every depressed Christian. Today, where do we find hope?

Colossians 1:27 tell us our hope is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

Elder John Leong