The story of Elijah reminds us that everyone is susceptible to depression. No matter how powerful, accomplished, or successful we may be, we can still succumb to fear, doubt, and a sense of hopelessness that robs us of our life’s purpose and joy. But we don’t have to stay there. Elijah’s example reveals that God is always with us, even in the darkness of depression. Elijah’s retreat into the cave of hopelessness and his life-changing encounter with God there reveal a path to our own way back into the light.
In this study, we will look at the depression the prophet Elijah faced after he came off the spiritual high point of defeating the prophets of Baal. His story will reveal that we never have to remain in a cave of despair. God is always with us and always willing to lead us out of our personal darkness and into his eternal light.
Elijah began to compare himself to his ancestors, criticizing himself for being no better than them in their fickle disobedience to the Lord. This “comparison trap” drove him deeper into the cave of depression. As we will see in this session, the same will be true of us when we begin to worry too much about what others are thinking and we measure our self-worth against everyone around us.
When Elijah sank into depression beneath the broom bush, he needed sleep and nourishment before he could continue on his journey. So the Lord sent his angel to help Elijah meet these needs before he asked the prophet to deal with other more complex issues. God often reminds us that we need the same thing. Once our needs for sleep and food have been met, we are ready to continue on our path to healing and restoration.
Although overcoming depression is a process, there is no substitute for a single moment of experiencing the power and presence of God. Knowing him personally and intimately is the greatest antidepressant available in our spiritual battle for health and wholeness. Rarely do we experience instant curative healing from our depression, but a fresh awareness of God’s presence and perspective in our lives can quickly get us moving and dreaming again.
The last strategy that God gave to Elijah to move him out of the cave of depression was relationships and healthy community. Once Elijah accepted God’s new mission, he left his cave and never again (at least that we know) experienced depression. Instead, he worked to fulfill the assignment that God gave him and poured his life into teaching and mentoring Elisha, his successor.