Biblical Principles for Dealing With Depression

Text: 1 Kings 19: 1-10
Theme:  What to do When You Want to Die.
Causes: Reason For Depression     1 Kings 19:1-4

Depression is one of the great problems in the world today. It has been called the "common cold" of emotional illness. Everybody gets depressed at times, but some people are depressed nearly all the time. Even great saints get depressed and Elijah was such an example.

After one particularly great miracle performed by Elijah, Jezebel's husband, King Ahab, told Jezebel everything Elijah had done. This made her so angry she responded in verse 1 and 2. She was saying, "if I don't kill you within twenty-four hours, I'll be ready to kill myself."

Here's Elijah, who had been fearless for three years, and now, when one woman threatens his life, he becomes frightened, runs out to the desert and becomes depressed. Read verses 3 through 5.

Elijah was a prime candidate for depression. He was:

  1. Physically tired
  2. Emotionally exhausted
  3. Someone had threatened his life.

He was an emotional fruit basket at this point, with all sorts of problems: fear, resentment, guilt, anger, loneliness and worry. But God says that "Elijah was a man just like us" (James 5:17). He had the same problems we do and in this case he had a problem with depression.

Elijah was so depressed that he was ready to die. Why do we get ourselves in such emotional messes? Because of faulty thinking. The fact is that our emotions are caused by our thoughts.

If you think in a negative way, you're going to feel depressed. Your emotions are caused by how you interpret life. If you look at life from a negative viewpoint you're going to get down. If you want to get rid of negative emotions you have to change the way you think.
The Bible says that you can be "transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).

The only way you can change your mind and emotions is by changing the way you think.

Why did Elijah get depressed? Because he played four mental games that all of us play when we get depressed.

I.  Focus On The Facts, and Not On Your Feelings
  A. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life (verse 3).
     1.  He came to a broom tree, sat under it and prayed 
          that he might die.
    B.  What was his first mistake?
          1.  The same mistake we make when we get depressed. We focus
               on our feelings rather than on the facts.
          2.  That ALWAYS when we get depressed. We focus on
                how w feel rather than on reality.
  C.  Elijah felt like a failure because of ONE incident that
        frightened him.
          1.  He thought to himself, "I'm such a coward. What am I
               doing running?"
          2.  So because he "felt" like a failure, he assumed he was a

This is called emotional reasoning, and it's destructive. It's the idea, "I feel it,
so it must be true.What you "feel" is not always real! Feelings are NOT facts.

II.  Don't Compare Yourself With Others
     A.  The second mistake Elijah made is shown in the second
           thing he said, "I've had enough Lord. Take my life 
           because     I am no better  than my ancestors."
          1. Most of us have fallen into that trap of thinking, "If I could
               just be like so-and-so I'd be happy."

When you start comparing yourself to other people, you're asking for trouble.
The Bible says it is unwise and harmful (2 Cor. 10:12).

     B. Don't compare yourself with somebody else, because
          everyone is unique.
          1. There's only one person you can be and that's YOU.
2.  We tend to compare our weaknesses with other
               people's strengths.
          3.  We also try to motivate ourselves through criticism and
              condemnation. We do it by "I should have" ourselves.
      C.   Another trap we fall into when we get depressed is that
             we label ourselves.

III.  Don't Take False Blame
     A.  The third mistake Elijah made was that he blamed himself
           for events that weren't his fault.
          1.  See 1 Kings 19:10.
          2.  In his depression, Elijah blamed himself for failing to
               change the nation.
     B.  A third mistake that causes depression is that we take
           false blame.
          1.  When you do that, you will always get depressed.

If we assume a responsibility that God never intended us to have, it is too heavy a burden.

     C.  God has given each of us a free will. When you assume 
           responsibility for other people's 
           decisions, you accept a burden that will only depress you.
          1.  You can't assume responsibility for other people's
          2.  You can sometimes influence people, but you can't
               control them  

Don't be depressed by something you CAN'T control.

IV.  Don't Exaggerate The Negative
     A.  The fourth mistake Elijah made is that he exaggerated the
          1. He said, "I am the only one left, and now they are trying
              to kill me too" (v.10).
          2.  Elijah had a pity party.
          3.  The fact was that everybody was not against him. Only
               one person was, and her
               threat wasn't for real.
     B.  Elijah didn't stop to evaluate the threat. He just ran away.
          1.  Everything looks bad.
          2.  Elijah exaggerated the problem and that made his
              depression worse.

When we are depressed we always exaggerate the negative!

Cure:  God's Remedy For Depression 1 Kings 19:5-10 

What was God's remedy for Elijah's depression? It was a remedy YOU can use for your depression. 


I.  God Refreshed Him - Physical needs.
     A.  God's initial remedy for Elijah's depression was rest, 
            food and relaxation.
          1.  See verses 5 - 8
          2.  Sometimes a good night's sleep does wonders for 
                your attitude.
          3.  When you are physically tired and mentally drained, 
                you are prone to depression.
     B.  If you are depressed, the first step toward recovery is to
           take care of your physical needs.
          1.  Physical health has a profound influence on moods.
          2.  Rest is important to the "renewal" of your mind.
     C.  Notice how tenderly God dealt with Elijah.
          1.  God did not scold him or condemn him.
          2.  God gave him food and rest. He restored him physically.

Physical restoration is essential for EMOTIONAL

          3. When you are physically tired and mentally drained, you 
               are prone to depression.

II.  God Renewed Him - Emotional needs.
     A.  The second remedy for your depression is to give your 
            frustrations to God.
          1.  Elijah went into a cave and spent the night there. In the
               morning the Lord asked him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?
          2. Notice the reply in verses 9 and 10.
          3. Elijah just poured out all of his inner feelings.

God allowed him to let off steam. He let Elijah vent his pent-up emotions without criticizing him or condemning him.
Often it helps to share your feelings with a Christian friend. It's a catharsis - a cleansing out of all the things that have been pushed down inside you and are causing your depression.

     B.  Notice the six emotions Elijah felt:
          1. First, he was afraid (v.3).
          2. Second, he felt resentment (v.4).
          3. Third, he had low self esteem and felt guilty (v.10).
          4. Fourth, he was angry.
          5. Fifth, he was lonely (v.10).
          6. Finally, he was worried.

When you combine resentment, fear, guilt, anger, loneliness and worry, your asking for depression.

So God just let him spill all of this out. When you are depressed that's exactly what you need to do. Tell it to the Lord.

III.  God Reminded Him
     A. The third remedy for your depression is to get a fresh
          awareness of God's presence in your life.
          1.  Notice God's response to Elijah, see verse 11.
     B.  God had put on a real show with the wind, earthquake, and
           fire, but  he wasn't speaking to Elijah in any of those.
          1.  What really got Elijah's attention was the still small voice,
               the gently whisper.

Even today, God usually speaks to us in stillness and quietness.

God reminded Elijah that He was Still right there beside him.

     C. If you are depressed take your Bible and get alone with
          1.  Let God love you and speak to you.

There is NO greater antidepressant than communication and fellowship with God.

God's Fourth Remedy:

IV.  God Recommissioned Him
     A. The fourth remedy for overcoming depression is to let God
          give you a new direction.
          1.  See verse 15.
          2.  God gave Elijah a new assignment. He put him back to

The quickest way to defeat depression is to stop sitting around in self pity.
Get your eyes off yourself and start looking at the needs of other people. Get involved in their lives, in a ministry where you are giving out and God is giving through you.

          3.  See Matt. 16:25.

Get involved in helping other people.

     B.  When we're depressed we tend to think:
          1.  "How can God use me I'm such a failure. I keep making 
                mistakes. I disappoint myself, so surely I must be
                disappointing to God."

You can never disappoint God, because disappointment can only happen when somebody expects you to do something different from what you really do.

The fact is that God knows everything about you. He knows how you'll act in the future. God made you and He knows you.

     C.  Let God give you a new purpose and direction.
          1.  He's NOT through with you!
          2.  If you let Him, God will pick you up and start you over.
     D. Jesus Christ wants to lift you out of your depression.
          1.  He can help you. He can change you
          2. You don't have to go through life manipulated by your
     E.  You can choose to change your thoughts.
          1.  Let God change those harmful misconceptions, such as:
               "If somebody criticizes me it means I'm worthless."
               "I must be loved and accepted by everybody to be
                fulfilled in life."
               "I cannot admit any area of weakness; I have to be
                perfect or else I'm a  failure."

          2. Jesus knew the importance of correct thinking when He
               said, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free
              (John 8:32).

Conclusion: The more you know Jesus, the freer you'll be.

Home/ Sermons/ Nuggets/ Soul Food