Elijah was depressed. For almost four years he had expected Israel to come back to God, but except for the rain, very little had changed. For him life was worse he was all alone; because Jezebel has declared him, “Dead.” Without hope, he saw no reason to live. God meet Elijah’s needs and his ministry was restored.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:12,13 NIV)
God asked Elijah the question again. God wanted Elijah to probe deeper into his own heart. We do not know ourselves as well as God does. (John 21:17) Often He arranges situations to force us to stop being so superficial. (Read Why the Test.) Although God asked him a second time, Elijah still didn’t understand that it is his lack faith that lead him to run away.
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:14 NIV)
The first time God asked Elijah (1 Kings 19:9), he was still in “fight or flight” mode. When we are living on adrenaline we cannot think clearly, we can only react. He still blamed others: “It is the people’s fault, they broke their covenant with the Almighty. They allowed Jezebel to kill all of the true prophets and even though I have worked as hard as I could, Jezebel is going to kill me too.” However, now he was ready to listen to God’s still small voice.
Most of what Elijah believed was true, except he was not the only one left. Satan hides lies in a bed of truth. It takes diligence to find the false belief. Jesus warned us about the weeds sown in with the wheat (Matthew 13:25). When we renew our mind we find our false beliefs and then replace them with truth. Now that he had ears to listen, God gave Elijah truth.
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:15-18 NIV)
Notice the pattern:
God spoke to Moses in a burning bush, told him to return to Egypt, and take the people to the Promise Land (Exodus 3:10).
God spoke to Jonah on the beach, go back to Ninevah, and preach (Jonah 3:2).
God spoke in a quiet voice to Elijah, go back to Israel, and anoint new leaders.
When we leave God’s plan, part of our repentance is returning. The wayward son also retraced his steps back to the Father (Luke 15:20). God waits patiently for us to realize our mistake, then He forgives. But we have to retrace our steps, so we will learn not to repeat the sin.
God told Elijah:
- Anoint Hazael king over Syria.
- Anoint Jehu king over Israel.
- Anoint Elisha to be your successor as prophet. (I try to keep Elijah and Elisha straight by remembering that j comes before s in the alphabet.)
Knowing Elijah’s fear will make him protest, God assured Elijah that all the false prophets will die at the hands of the new kings. God told Elijah: “Son, you are not as smart as you think you are. I have 7000 people in Israel alone are loyal to me.” Elijah’s sin was not trusting God to protect him. Sometimes, we forget that God is all knowing and we are not.
When dealing with depression both Christian and secular counselors advise:
- Be with people.
- Find purpose in your life by joining a club, or a cause, or volunteering.
If you are depressed, find the lie. Choose to trust God by believing His truth. Then force yourself to live within the community. God never intended for us to live life alone. To find balance in community read When and How to Intervene.
God will meet our emotional needs. He will restore us just like He did Elijah. But first we have to stop running, and blaming. We have to listen.
- Comments are always appreciated.