A Look at Depression: Elijah

DEPRESSION CAN BLIND US TO GOD’S LOVE!

Elijah is another man in the Bible who suffered with depression. 1 Kings 19:4-19 shares the details of what Elijah experienced.

Elijah’s depression struck him after he had had a mountain-top experience with the Lord. He had prayed and asked the Lord to prove Himself as God and the Lord did just that in a miraculous way. The people were in awe. You can read specifically about this highpoint in Elijah’s life in 1 Kings 19:16-39.

It was following this that a woman named Jezebel, a wicked queen of that time, began to threaten Elijah’s life and Elijah ran scared. He literally ran for more than eighty miles. He fled to Beersheba and then went deep into the wilderness. There he crawled under a broom tree, exhausted and feeling great despair. He cried out to the Lord and asked the Lord to let him die.

Often in the depths of depression, people lose hope to the point of wanting to end their life. The sadness becomes overwhelming. And all of life can weigh you down.

The feelings of not wanting to live life can consume you. It is especially important during these times to have the support of a Christian counselor, a medical doctor, or a psychiatrist to help keep you safe. But beyond that, above all, it is important to remember who God is, and to remember His love for you.

Elijah lost sight of what the Lord had just done for him and he ran in fear, not consulting God for help, direction, or protection. He forgot about God’s presence and love.

Sometimes when life feels so heavy, we become very overwhelmed and only look inward. We live consumed with our feelings; drowning in our pain, in our needs, and in our fears. We become blind to the Lord reaching to us.

I know in my depression I was consumed with the fear of not having what I needed, I never realized how a death of a loved one early in my life, the loss of that very special relationship, had affected me so deeply. I had buried the pain and loss. The fear of losing again, the fear of not having the love I needed overwhelmed me. The grief I had not dealt with buried me under its heaviness. I didn’t see how the Lord’s love could meet me and satisfy me. I only could feel the desperation of my heart.

Right now, as I look back at that time I realize how my lack of seeing God’s love propelled me into greater hopelessness. I only need to look at the Lord’s response to Elijah to realize the depth of God’s love for him to begin to know the reality of it for me.

It seems the most human reaction to Elijah’s behavior would have been frustration, like, “Are you kidding me?” It seems like the Lord could have been a bit angry with him, “how could you forget what I just did for you? How could you forget to even call on Me?”

But no, that is not God’s response at all, instead the Lord meets Elijah in his neediness, in his deep exhaustion and the Lord cares for him. He lets Elijah sleep. He gives him food and drink.

What love! I needed that kind of non-judgemental, ever-present kind, gracious love. I needed someone to see the pain and fear within as I journeyed through my depression. But I missed it for a long time.

The Lord saw Elijah’s need and met him in it. And the Lord did see my need too, and He met me in my need as well. It just took me a long time to recognize Him in the middle of my anguish, because I was looking for a different answer.

The Lord sees the deepest needs of our hearts in a very real way. He knows the pain, the loss, the emptiness, the fear, whatever we are experiencing, He knows. And He is here. He comes to us with His loving presence and the tenderness of His care. He works to restore our brokenness. He picks up the pieces of our hearts and our lives, and puts them back together with the glue of His love. He shows us the way out. He gives us guidance and purpose. He doesn’t rush us but helps us to see Who He is, He helps us to see that He is all we need. He is the One Who fills our hearts with joy, and wraps us in His peace. And above all He holds us in His love.

What more could one want or need? Yet, our hearts get set on a desire, or on something we feel we can’t live without and we miss the Lord’s love. The only love that can fill our emptiness in a perfect way.

There are so many lessons to be learned from Elijah’s story, but the one that stands out to me the most is that our God is a personal God full of tender love. And it is in that love that He meets us in our pain, despair, and anguish. He comes alongside and helps us to see. He helps us to see Who He is and that He is for us and that is one of the most important things one needs to know in the loneliness and desperation of depression.

The Lord gives our hearts a reason to hope in a time when there doesn’t seem to be any hope. We must cling to the hope of His everlasting love and to the reality of His presence. He is with us through it all and He is faithful!

Next week I will continue to look at depression in the Bible in the story of Hannah.

Advertisements

Lord, I Need You, Always!

There is no truer statement. We are a needy people.

My recent blogposts have narrowed in on our crumbling states of emotions that magnify our neediness before the Lord. I want to take one more look at these. Difficult times come up frequently in life and God’s Word gives us so many tools to help us through time when we are hurting in this life.

We considered times of exhaustion and the treasures the Lord gives us in the darkness. When we have grown so incredibly tired from the pressures of life, the Lord in His great love for us, shows up in amazing ways. We can look back and see how He has gifted us. We can see His presence through times when life seemed impossible, when we felt as though we were crawling through a dark cave alone.

We looked at our need for the Lord in the midst of helplessness. When suddenly we come to the end of ourselves and realize we are unable to make a situation any better, when it is evident that we are powerless to change anything, it is then we realize we need help. It is then we must reach to the Lord. King Jehoshaphat’s responded to an impending battle he faced with beautiful words of prayer. We can take his words in our times of helplessness and speak to the Lord, “We do not know what to do but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) The Lord will hear us as He heard King Jehoshaphat, and He will work on our behalf.

We learned from Elijah about the neediness in depression. Elijah’s story led us to see the Lord’s love throughout Elijah’s downward spiral. The Lord met Elijah at each time of need. The Lord knows our deepest needs as well. We saw how the Lord can whisper in His still, small voice, words of hope into our brokeness. He gave direction to Elijah after He had fed him and strengthened him.

We discovered that people respond differently to fear. Caleb and Joshua showed us what we need to remember when we are afraid. Rather than cower and choose to run away, Caleb and Joshua remembered the truth about who God is in the face of giants. We, too, need to remember who God is in the face of our seemingly insurmountable giants that we come upon in our present day lives. The reality of the Lord’s presence with us in everything should bring us confidence and courage. He is our strength and He promises deliverance from all of our troubles.

Emptiness is another place of neediness we considered. O how the Lord desires to satisfy our hearts. He has come to give us abundant life. He can fill the emptiness as nothing else can. We only must seek Him, that is what He desires most of all.

Finally, we looked at our neediness in loneliness. We learned from Jeremiah how he coped with his loneliness as a prophet. He showed us the importance of being honest with the Lord regarding our feelings. And he demonstrated how to feed on the Lord’s faithfuness- remembering God’s goodness and work in our lives during previous trials and difficulties. The Lord promises to always be with us.

Moment-by-moment in our lives we learn more and more of how very needy we really are. And in those times, if we don’t cry out with words, our heart cry out, “Lord, I need You!” We cry with desperation and the Lord hears us. Time and time again we see in the Bible how the Lord met His people in their pain and suffering.

God has not changed and our responses to trials are not much different from those living in Bible times. God knows what we need. We only need to seek Him in our neediness. We must look for Him and He will be found, for He is always faithful!

Just a side-note:

Summer is flying by, and our garden is growing beautifully with the plentiful rains the Lord has provided. My husband and I already have begun doing some freezing of vegetables and there is much more to do. Soon we will begin canning. I know my posts have not been on schedule due to the summer’s busyness, I will try to post once a week throughout the next couple months. I hope that your summer has been a time of learning more about the Lord’s love and provision. Thank you for being a faithful reader!

Sweet Blessings to you, Cheryl

Lord, I Need You … I’m Exhausted

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jeremiah 31:25 NIV “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.

Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God, your hope comes from him.”

I have known the feelings of exhaustion during various times in my life, but the time that stands out the most is during the period of time when my dad’s Alzheimer’s continued to worsen. He didn’t know his yard, his home, or even where his bedroom was. It was difficult for him to remember a simple direction. His health condition had altered his whole demeanor. He had become short-tempered and easily angered. He didn’t understand what was happening. I guess he may have been fearful inside but was unable to communicate that, so it all came out in frustration. He needed us to be loving and patient, helpful, yet allowing him to keep his dignity. 

I was frequently running back and forth to my parents trying to be there for mom, so that she could get out of the house, and trying to help dad find some enjoyment in life. This was exhausting as I was working, I had a home to take care of, and a husband who was being neglected.

LORD, I NEED YOU!

Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him when we are weary and burdened. The Lord calls us to bring out weariness to Him and to find rest in Him. He tells us in Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…”

Whether you are physically, spiritually, mentally exhausted, or all three, your strength can be renewed. The Lord gives strength to the weary. He wants us to find our hope in HIm.

We live in a fallen world, our natural human strength gives out, but the Lord is able to meet us in that, He has an inexhaustible storehouse of resources at His fingertips. He knows that the pressures of life weigh heavy on us. Sometimes our burdens are too big to carry. We end up feeling as though we are ready to give up.

I screamed “I don’t want to do this anymore, it is too hard, it’s too much.” My tears fell. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through this time, but the Lord knew.

A number of years ago, a girlfriend and I attended a Dallas Holm’s concert at a church in a town about 25 miles from where we live. Dallas and his wife. Linda, sang and shared. The part of that amazing concert that sticks in my mind most, is not the beautiful music we heard, but something Dallas shared. He explained that at that time his wife was going through cancer. They had been crying out to the Lord, and one day as Linda prayed the Lord impressed on her heart Isaiah 45:3.  “I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”  (KJV)

“Treasures of darkness” are the gifts of a loving God, who knows where you are and what you are going through. I would have written Dad’s story completely differently, editing out Dad’s disease and the torment of Alzheimer’s. I would have written his story so that it wouldn’t have ended with him in a nursing home. It wouldn’t have seemed so overwhelming and exhausting if I would have made his life plan.

But, I am not God, and I don’t have the powers to make life as I desire. Instead, I had to go through this rough journey with Dad, and it was difficult, and we didn’t know the way. But the Lord did give me “treasures” in the darkness of this difficult time. He taught me amazing truths about His love, and how to love others, about His wisdom and how He was at work. The darkness was a place I didn’t want to be, I wanted the easy comforts of life, where I could enjoy energy and relaxation. I didn’t want to live in stress, in fear, and feel so vulnerable to the unknown. I didn’t want to be running constantly trying to be available in so many ways. I didn’t want to see all of the pain, or feel it. 

I must say, I didn’t see the Lord gifting me with these treasures during that time, I think I was too bleary-eyed. Sad and tired. But, now I look back, and I have to smile, my God was there holding me up, giving me strength. He helped me to feel His love for me, and He helped me demonstrate His love. He was there teaching me that I am not alone when I needed Him most. He was there teaching me that I couldl count on him, rely on Him, and depend on Him. He is trustworthy. He supported me and strengthened me to do what I needed to do. And above all, His name was glorified in it all.

Yes, I was exhausted, and I felt at the end of my rope. I cried hot tears, it wasn’t easy. But He gave me precious treasures that I can hold in my heart forever, and He showed me that He is my Eternal Hope and Strength for this life.

The Lord replenished my strength as I spent time with Dad. At times, I would catch a gleam in Dad’s eye when he found success at doing something. Or at other times he would tease me or laugh at something that amused him. My heart would be encouraged to find Dad,  as I knew him,  still in there. My dad had an amazing sense of humor.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 138:3 “As soon as I pray you answer me, you encourage me by giving me strength.” The Lord answers our prayers in ways that help us know Him more. If I had had the power to rewrite Dad’s life story, I would have missed out on some very beautiful treasures from the Lord, and now I can say that I am glad that the story was written the way it was. It was God’s way, and He always knows best. It wasn’t the easy or painless way, but it was the perfect way.

Lord, I need you! The song still brings me to tears as I remember, bittersweet memories. My heart prays that our exhaustion and desperation may always bring us to recognize our need for the Lord so that we can find the hope and strength He has for us.

Lord, I Need You!

Do you know the desperation of the words, “Lord, I need you?”

A few years ago my dad was suffering with Alzheimer’s and my mom was trying to care for him. I would drive up to their house a couple of times each week to give my mom help or give her a break whenever I could. It was a 70 mile drive one way and I remember feeling exhausted from working full-time as I drove. I was feeling very overwhelmed because of all that needed to be done at home, as well as the expectations of work and others.

It was as I was driving along thinking about all of this, feeling at the end of my rope, that Plumb’s song came on the radio, it is titled, “Lord, I Need You.” It’s words spoke to me. I screamed the words as tears streamed down my face. I told the Lord, I can’t keep doing this. I felt desperate.

  • I was exhausted, needy for peace and rest.
  • I felt alone in being needed and depended on and it felt way too stressful.
  • I felt afraid of what was happening to my dad.
  • I was grieving while he was still living because he was being ripped away little by little as his mind and abilities deteriorated.
  • I felt empty– it seemed like I was constantly running and doing, I didn’t have anymore to give.
  • I felt like my life was totally our of control and I was on a nonstop treadmill as things flew at me 90 miles an hour.
  • I felt incredibly helpless, because I couldn’t fix the situation. I couldn’t make dad better, and give mom her husband back,

It was with each of these feelings and emotions that my heart cried out “LORD I NEED YOU!”

I was in a place that I didn’t want to be. It was an extremely difficult place.

I want to share hope in the midst of difficult times. I know I am not alone in these feelings. Each of us go through these wilderness places of desperation, but there is hope in knowing that the Lord meets us in our neediness.

For the summer months of June through August I will be posting blogs only on Friday’s.

During June and July my blogs will be about needing the Lord in the midst of:

  • Exhaustion
  • Helplessness
  • Sadness or Depression
  • Fear
  • Emptiness
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling as if everything in life is out of control.

The Lord sees where we are and knows our hearts deepest needs. He is there to help us. Our souls can be refreshed in the midst of weariness and desperation as the Lord holds us in His love. It is my prayer that your soul will find refreshment as you read the posts.