Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. I Kings 19:1-8
Sometimes after the highs of our lives (wonderful blessings or even great spiritual victories as was the case with Elijah), we experience quite undesirable lows. How gracious of our God to include in His Holy Word this story of Elijah’s journey from depression back to joy! Tucked into the books of I Kings is a prescription that we can use in our fight for joy. Let’s see what is included in this passage…
Here’s the background – Elijah, prophet of God, was witness and catalyst to a mighty display of God’s glory. He invited the prophets of the false god Baal to a showdown between their god and the One True God. I hope that in Eternity, God will pull back the curtain of time to let us witness this amazing event where God shows those misguided people Who He is! Talk about a blaze of Glory! (For the details, check out I Kings 18)
In spite of this great victory, Elijah is human. And that means he is susceptible to doubt and fear. He falls prey to the temptation to fear what man could do to him (or in this case, a woman!) and he subsequently doubts God’s care for him. In this state, he runs away from the problem, hides out, and prefers death to living this way. God shows such tender mercy to him! Instead of telling him to straighten up and face things like a man, God is so gentle, so kind, so compassionate. Look up Psalm 103:13,14 for a reminder of how God sees us.
This passage above has a message for us about our own tendency to dip into depression. First, don’t be taken off guard. Know that we are all vulnerable in this way and be intentional about resting in Him always, especially in the aftermath of those “mountaintop experiences”.
But if you find yourself in the valley, take a page out of Elijah’s story. Take care of your body. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is to take a nap! We are physical beings, not just spiritual ones! And when our bodies are exhausted or ill, that can definitely take a toll on our spirit.
Take a nap. Eat healthy. Go for a walk. Get a physical. Maybe there is a physiological cure to your spiritual woes!