Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Elijah: Intense Faith & Deep Depression

Let's set up the context of Elijah's ministry by looking at God’s people in 870 BC.

1 Kings 16:29-33   "In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him."

Things were not good in that relativism was the order of the day and everyone pursued their own set of values, regardless of how destructive they might be. Into this mix came Elijah, who was very well connected to God and had a reputation for speaking the truth -- which generally meant he was in opposition to the King. For this he was not welcome at the palace.

Several supernatural events happened in Elijah's life, and the climax centred around a showdown with 950 prophets who were, in reality, spiritual charlatans. The essence of the competition revolved around whose god would show up and respond with fire from heaven. Of course only Yahweh does respond, and the results are dramatic. You could even say all consuming, as the water-soaked altar and sacrifice are consumed to the last. Then, as he prophesies the return of the rain, he outruns a horse and chariot! A super-human feat to be sure.

Now comes the turn of events. Queen Jezebel puts a death warrant on Elijah. Following this amazing set of events, he crashes emotionally, spiritually, and physically -- and flees for his life. He is overwhelmed, discourage, suicidal, and convinced he is all alone. Into this time of dark despair, God speaks healing and restoration.

Elijah is supernaturally given food and water for his weakened state and impending journey. He is led out of hiding into a time of spiritual retreat to reconnect with God. He deals with his failings and God renews his sense of purpose. And finally, Elijah is set on a new course where he disciples a prophet (Elisha) for the next generation.

Elijah's dark time -- call it a break down, crash, depression, burn out -- is connected to his genetic make up, personality, and the nature of the activities in which he was engaged. He gets completely overwhelmed and needs time to get in balance. You and I can be in the same place as well. It's not unusual. Recognizing our condition and what needs to happen is part of our mental health.

When we are faced with that sense of hopelessness and despair, we need the following:
Proper Self-care -- eating right and exercise
Proper Activity -- getting out of hiding (connecting with God and others)
Proper Awareness -- knowing what is going on inside and taking responsibility for it
Proper Direction -- having a plan to engage with our goals and include others.

Elijah faced mental health challenges and so do we. For some helpful information go to http://baptist-atlantic.ca/our-convention/departments/public-witness-and-social/ and click on "The Rapha Network".

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