Sunday, 18 December 2016 05:56

Hope Beyond Depression

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The past several weeks The Shepherd’s Connection has posted articles about depression. Depression is real, but there is hope beyond depression. In fact, there are a number of experiences (termination, burnout, conflict, even holidays, etc.) we face in ministry, which might be viewed as ministry killers. Many people see this with depression. That is absolutely not true.

There is a strong Biblical basis for this topic from the life of Elijah. The best way to see this illustrated is to do a running commentary on Elijah’s life. Take a look.

  • In I Kings 19:4 Elijah hits a wall. He prays “Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

You can argue whether Elijah faced depression, burnout, or some other dilemma. The fact is Elijah shared thoughts that were uncharacteristic for a man of God.

Was Elijah finished? Was he a wash up? Not on your life. He shows up in scripture numerous times after the experience recorded in I Kings 19.

  • Malachi mentions Elijah in Malachi 4:5. Malachi said, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Point, Malachi held Elijah in high esteem.
  • There was an occasion, at Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus pressed His disciples about their comprehension of His identity. The disciples confessed that people associated Him with Elijah or one of the Old Testament prophets. Point, Elijah was held in high esteem by the people in New Testament days.
  • When Jesus hung on the cross His tormentors asked if He would call for Elijah, as if Elijah was a rescuer. Point, Elijah was held in high esteem by the religious leaders, during Jesus day.
  • One final example, James used Elijah as an example of prayer in James 5:17. He upheld Elijah as a “man” who was a man of prayer. Point, James held Elijah in high regard, as a man of God.

The previous references to Elijah do not portray someone who is a “has been.” He is looked upon with high regard in the years following his (seeming) collapse. To me this makes a strong case for post-depression living. A temporary detour due to depression is just that, it is a detour. When a person gets past the detour it is time to hit the road again.

So what are some of the takeaways from Elijah’s experience? First, we should face our depression, burnout, or whatever torments us. Some people hide their behavior, as if they are a leper or a three-headed monster.

Second, you should seek help. No matter the problem you face in life, God never intended you to walk alone. The writer of Ecclesiastes testified to the value of partnership. He said, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” (Ecc. 4:9-10) Paul speaks of “bearing one another’s burden.” (Gal. 6:2)

In seeking help it is important that you have a healthy attitude about seeking help. Most of us have no problem seeking professional help with the flu, a heart condition, or diabetes. However, we often change our tune when it comes to emotional health. That is not consistent.

Hopefully this article has encouraged you to see, there is hope beyond depression. Unfortunately many people, even ministers, are depressed and downcast during the Christmas season. Please remember, God has more in store for you. I pray that you will move beyond your depression. Merry Christmas!

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