Some of God’s greatest saints have struggled with it. In Psalm 42 King David expressed it. Martin Luther battled it. And the great “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was frequently dogged by it. What is it? Depression.
In Part 1, we looked at three great prophets of God—Moses, Elijah and Jonah—and the problems that set them up for depression. Each of them prayed to God to take their life. So what did God do for His servants?
First, He didn’t answer their prayer! Usually we’re thankful for answered prayer, but have you ever thanked God for unanswered prayer? What if God said yes to everything we asked Him for? Thank God He doesn’t! God doesn't always give us what we want; He gives us what we need. And the Holy Spirit makes intercession on our behalf for what we truly need (Romans 8:26). What a great God we have.
One of the Bible’s most comforting passages is Psalm 103:13-14.
“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”
God knew these prophets well. Even at their worst, God knew the stuff they were made of. Unlike so many of us, He didn’t mistake the moment for the man. He knew they were having a bad spell.
As we see what God provided them, we’ll see how to begin healing in our own lives or someone we love who is under the weight of depression.
God’s Provision Physically
For overburdened Moses, He sent 70 elders to help him.
“…and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, and thou shalt not bear it thyself alone” Numbers 11:17. In other words, “You just can't do it all, Moses.”
Moses was doing something God didn't want him to do, calling it “serving God,” “doing something for the people.” Jethro said, “No, you’re doing it to the people—and not a very good job at that!”
Most of us will get physically worn out doing things God never intended us to do! I really believe there is enough time in every day to gracefully do everything God wants us to do.
Make a list of everything you're doing that is “so important.”
Some things other people can do. Moses learned to delegate; others he had to eliminate. God made physical provision for Moses.
For exhausted Elijah, He sent food and rest.
God restored his strength with proper nourishment.
“And he lay and slept under a juniper tree, and behold, then an angel touched him and said unto him, Arise and eat.” 1 Kings 19:5
Elijah said, “Take my life!” God responds, “Here, son, is something good for you to eat.”
“And he looked, and behold, there was a cake baking on the coals…”
Talk about Angel Food Cake…
“…and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink and laid him down again.”
A big meal and then off for another nap.
“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. 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.”
God gave him a vacation with bread from heaven's bakery and water from heaven's wells. He's just resting. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is get a good night’s rest.
You think you're doing something for God when you're always running around, never resting? God says,
“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He giveth His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
You need to rest. Jesus said to His disciples, “Come ye apart and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). He knew they needed rest. Dr. Havner said, “We’d better come apart, or we'll come apart.”
For Jonah, He sent coolness and shade; time apart “to deliver from grief.”
“So Jonah went out of the city…and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief.” Jonah 4:5-6
Isn't that tender of the LORD? Jonah built a little retreat, and God air-conditioned it so he could sit in the shade, to deliver him from his grief. God knew he had a physical need.
Some who are depressed may need a vacation! Rest! You may say, “I can't.” King David said,
“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort…” Psalm 71:3
Even if you can't go away, you need to get away with God. God knows you need rest.
If you are depressed, it may be that you need to see a doctor. Get a check-up. The answer, though deeply spiritual, may be intensely practical.
God’s Provision Psychologically
God gave Moses a promise. “The battle is not yours; it’s mine. Look to Me. I will take care of them.”
God showed Elijah power. Afraid of Jezebel and her power to kill him, Elijah heard God say, “Sit up here in the mountains. I want to show you real power.” Then God caused a tornado-like wind, an earthquake, and a mighty fire to pass by. God controls all power. Elijah need not fear what Jezebel could do. God is the all-powerful one. Then came a still, small voice, God’s voice.
Tune in to God. Get alone with God.
“In quietness and confidence possess your souls.” Luke 21:19
“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15.
God gave Jonah a new perspective. He had to take away the shady vine for a while so Jonah could see an entire city out there. “Son, get your eyes off yourself. Lift up your eyes and look on the fields. They're white unto harvest.”
Psychologically, God gave each of them something to take the place of that inward look they had.
God’s Provision Spiritually
What did He do for them? He just loved them, brought them back to Himself, and used them. He carried them in His heart. Sometimes restoration in the physical realm and “coming apart” with God in the psychological realm will work greatly to help you be restored in the spiritual realm.
Remember: Depression is a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that leads to sadness.
Dear friend, if you are given to depression, let me tell you: God loves you so much. He will never leave you nor forsake you. And though we deny Him, He cannot deny Himself. He remains faithful.
Thank God, the story of these men did not end in depression. Nor will yours if you will…
“Draw nigh unto God; He will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Allow me to close with a prayer for you.
Father, I pray that You will help us when we get discouraged and depressed. Do radical surgery on our psyche (our souls) and bring us back, Lord, to the simple but precious things that really count.
Friend, if you don’t know Christ, depression is not your problem. If you could live a hundred years, be radiantly happy, then die and go to hell, what difference would it make? You need Jesus. He died for you on the cross. He paid your sin debt. To be saved means that every sin is forgiven and Christ now lives in your heart to give you power and strength. To be saved means that one day He’ll take you home to heaven. You’re not saved by joining a church, getting baptized, giving your money, or living a good life. These are all well and good, but none of these can save. If they could, Jesus never would have died. You are saved when you trust Christ by faith. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” If you’d like to be saved, I want you to pray a prayer like this right now. Just speak to Him:
“Dear God, give me the courage, the faith, to receive Christ right now. In His name I ask it. Amen.”
To hear the entire message “Dealing with Depression, Parts 1 and 2,” please call
1-800-274-5683 and request it by title or by message #1150.