Depression: We all face it at some time, right?

We’ve learned over the last few weeks that we can learn so much at Uni-Adversity, but it can be hard, discouraging and even soul destroying facing the adversity.

 

Depression is a very clear and present danger when it comes to Uni-Adversity. Why? Because when you face adversity, you often find that it becomes too much to bear. It becomes overwhelming, depressing, discouraging, crushing and that’s when the devil attacks and plunges you into depression!

 

Depression causes you to act in a way you normally wouldn’t, say things you normally wouldn’t, make decisions and give in to temptation that you later regret. Depression makes life miserable, for you and everyone around you, and if you let it depression can control your life, your relationships, your future and fuel your addictions.

 

No one is immune to being depressed, and when you face adversity after Adversity, it’s tempting to fall into depression and never get out!

Usually we try and hide it. We look ok on the outside, we seem to have it all together, but inside we are a mess, we are struggling to cope and we are faking life. Depression is a lonely place to be, and many here fight this fight alone behind closed doors every day.

 

There is also very much a physical side to depression. When you are tired, sick, stressed or if you have an underlying medical problem you are far more prone to the effects of depression.  According to beyondblue.com.au, there is often no single cause of severe depression, so medical and psychological  advice can form part of a treatment.

 

But many times feelings of depression occur simply because you’ve struggled with your Adversity for too long. You’re tired, you’re down, but ours sick of it, you’re over it!

 

Some of you feel like you’ve been smashed and kicked around a time or two, and this message is for you.

 

You may not know this, but the Bible actually holds some great keys when it comes to dealing with Adversity, and the overwhelming depression that it often gives rise to.

 

And when it comes to dealing with a University of Adversity magnitude depression, we can examine the life of one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, and man who stood for the Lord against incredible odds, triumphed over overwhelming adversity, but sunk into unfathomable depths of depression.

 

Enter the prophet Elijah.(1 Kings 17-19)…

 

MAXIMUM PROPHETS

 

Every investor wants maximum prophets, and among all the prophets, this guy is the one of the maximum prophets!  In 1Kings 17, Elijah predicts a horrific  and debilitating famine that sweeps across the nation.

 

Later on in 1 Kings 18:44, at his word, the drought is broken. Incredible, even the weather is obedient to the word of this man of God!

 

Elijah is most famous for challenging and defeating the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. At his word fire reigned down from Heaven and consumed the sacrifice,

 

1 Kings 18:38-39

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

 

Elijah was so amazing, he is one of only two people recorded in the Bible to not pass through death.

 

That’s pretty special, right?  But we are not going to look at his victories today so much as the depths of depression Elijah found himself in. If you are feeling overwhelmed and depressed by the Adversity you face, be it in your health, business, relationships or anything, then be encouraged because you are in good company. It doesn’t make you less spiritual or less godly, it makes you normal, it makes you human.

 

It simply means you need Jesus!

 

And it means we don’t ignore the signs of depression and try and fake it on our own. It means seeking God, turning from depression and seeking help to be an overcomer.

 

It also can make you a more powerful person of God in the future. It helps you understand when others are depressed. So for your lessons today at Uni-Adversity, let’s do a case study on the amazing prophet Elijah, and let’s see what we can learn about overcoming depression and adversity.

 

Here’s a few things you need to know about depression…

 

 

1.     OFTEN WE FEEL BLAMED BY OTHERS

 

 

When people face adversity, they often blame God or others around them. So, especially when you are hurting and feeling down, you will find some other hurting person attacking you, often someone you love or are close to.

 

In Elijah case, it was someone whom he had previously blessed in his ministry… In fact, he’d saved her and her son’s lives. The miracle was a jug of oil that refused to run dry, which saved the widow and her son from certain death in the drought…

 

1 Kings 17:16

The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

 

So having worked a miracle to save the widow and her son, you’d have thought he would have been thanked, right? You certainly wouldn’t expect  she’d turn on him.  But the very next verse says this…

 

1 Kings 17:17-18

After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!”

 

In her grief, in her hopelessness, she lashed out at the one who had previously sustained her Life!  Sounds unfair, right? It wasn’t Elijah fault, but he bore the brunt of her anger!

 

So Elijah went to prayer. Elijah prayed to the Lord, laid 3 times on the boy…and once again God moved and vindicated his servant… And the boy  was healed!

 

1 Kings 17:22

And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived.

 

Nevertheless, when people attack you it can wear thin quickly, especially if you’re feeling down to start with.. I personally have been hurt many times since taking on the church, but like Elijah I decided to just keep on ministering. And so should you, even when it hurts. You’re in Uni-Adversity. Keep going, keep serving be encouraged that God is using you to bless others and learn the lessons God wants you to learn.

 

2.     DEPRESSION  OFTEN HITS  AFTER A HIGH

 

Life has highs and lows, peaks and valleys, just like a mountain range.  And as in a mountain range or a roller coaster, the lows often come right after the highs. We may scale the heights of spiritual victory only to soon find ourselves in the dark valley of depression.

 

Elijah had experienced perhaps his greatest triumph, on Mount Carmel, when fire came from Heaven and consumed the sacrifice.  One of the greatest acts of God caused by any prophet in the Bible, but immediately after this incredible victory Elijah crashes into the Great Depression! How many of you know that when prophets fall dramatically, it’s a Great Depression?

 

I can relate to this. I would often return from ministering before tens of thousands of people in a stadium somewhere and find life at home or at work under attack.  I routinely found myself depressed in the first few days after ministering. Once I recognised this, I could adjust appropriately. I could say, “I feel down… Yes, that’s normal and it will be gone soon.”

 

Even here in this church. We had the high of a mighty offering, followed by a difficult week when you want to just give up and walk away. What Elijah experienced I also experience!

 

After the high of faith defeating the prophets of Baal, then this…

 

1 Kings 19:3

 

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness.

 

So powerful, so anointed, he ran from a woman called Jezebel because he feared for his life. He escaped to his man cave, literally, to be fearful, miserable and alone.

 

But

 

2 Timothy 1:7

God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

When fear comes in like this, you know it’s not God. But even a great man like Elijah feared and ran. He was down…. He was defeated…. He was running scared and he was alone…

 

3.     ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT?

 

Stress does nasty things to people, and is one of the triggers for big time depression. And Uni-Adversity can be high stress at times!

 

Stressful situations can drive us to inappropriate responses, and make us experience feelings that are not really true. Under pressure we often make bad decisions, and that’s what Elijah experienced. Under pressure from the godless Jezebel, fearing for his life, after seeing the promises of God enacted before his eyes and at his very word, he panicked, fled and got depressed!

 

He also felt so alone, and he complained about it…

 

1 Kings 19:10

 

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

 

But God set the record straight…

 

1 Kings 19:18

Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

 

Under intense stress, Elijah collapsed and felt alone. But God ministered to him and told him the truth, and God will do that with you also if you come to Him. God changed Elijah’s perception of events, and God can change yours also.

 

Here’s the thing… When you are here at Coast Church, you never need to face life alone!

 

4.     DEPRESSION AMPLIFIES THE NEGATIVE

 

If you have ever been depressed, you will recognise that one of the chief characteristics of depression is that it makes everything seem worse. Good things in your life suddenly seem bad, and the worst things seem worse than ever!

 

This is how depression operates, and because each negative is made more negative, you can create a gigantic negative feedback loop and ultimately the perfect storm of misery. Everything bad seems to escalate, and everything good loses its goodness. David said,

 

Psalms 38:6-8

I am bowed down and brought very low;

all day long I go about mourning.

My back is filled with searing pain;

there is no health in my body.

I am feeble and utterly crushed;

I groan in anguish of heart.

 

Physically debilitating, bone weariness, crushing anguish… This is depression, this is how it feels.

 

Consider Job, who had everything in the knew taken away from him. He was crushed, depressed, in despair and cursed the day he was born

 

Job 3:11

 

“Why did I not perish at birth,

and die as I came from the womb?

 

He said of mankind,

Job 5:6-7

For hardship does not spring from the soil,

nor does trouble sprout from the ground.

Yet man is born to trouble

as surely as sparks fly upward.

 

Recognise that when you’re down, everything looks bad, tastes bad and smells bad. Depression amplifies the  negative, and ultimately can lead this…

 

5.     THE DARK NIGHT IF THE SOUL: AT THE POINT OF GIVING UP

 

Secular writers call it, “The Dark Night of the Soul,” but believers are not immune to going through such depression, especially when facing adversity.

 

In fact Elijah was so down he was on the point of taking his own life. Have you ever felt so depressed that suicide seemed like a good idea? Have you ever felt so low that you despaired even of continuing to live? Are you there right now, so depressed that you just want the pain to stop?

 

1 Kings 19:3-4

 

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

 

It can be extremely disheartening to endure many challenges and setbacks. It can be soul destroying to sit in the University of Adversity and not be able to grasp the lessons. Sometimes it’s just all too much and it’s at those moments we think of ending it all.

 

However, though we know disappointments are inevitable, discouragement is a choice. We don’t have to give in to defeat. But hey, if you’re struggling right now, you’re in good company with Elijah! Even the great Apostle Paul experienced this…

 

2 Corinthians 1:8-9

 

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.

 

Thoughts of suicide are real, but you must never act on them. I had to bury my own brother-in-law who took his life, and he was a Christian, so I know the pain it caused, and the reasons why, but I’m telling you know that suicide is never God’s way.

 

Suicide is at best a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The reasons why people do it are many and varied, sometimes selfish, many times just to try and stop the pain. If you’re feeling this way, then let me share what God thinks about you, your pain, your adversity and your thoughts of ending it all…

 

 

Psalms 34:18-19

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,

but the Lord delivers him from them all;

 

If you’re  discouraged and depressed today, the Lord knows that this is when you need Him the most, and He wants to comfort you. His strength and courage are always available to those who come to Him. He will see you through the adversity and doesn’t want you checking out early.

 

Bill Newman tells the true story of a couple on the point of divorce, who went away for one last weekend because the man had a conference in another city. While he attended the convention, she stood before the open window in their high rise condo and was about to throw herself out when he unexpectedly returned, stopping her actions. That evening they were invited to a tent crusade that was visiting the city. They both walked forward and accepted Jesus as their Saviour and she later said, “I’m glad I checked in with Jesus before I checked out of life!”

 

Whatever you face, however hard or overwhelming, the Lord loves you, is close to you and will carry you through it. Ask Jesus into your life today and experience it for yourself.

 

Psalms 55:22

 

Cast your cares on the Lord

and he will sustain you;

he will never let

the righteous be shaken.

 

A PRESCRIPTION FOR OVERCOMING DEPRESSION

 

 

Firstly, let me reiterate that if you suffer from long term clinical depression you need to seek the advice of a doctor, psychologist, psychotherapist or counsellor. As a Christian, this is not a lack of faith, it is a wise thing to do.

 

No matter what Uni-Adversity throws at you, no matter what you are facing right now, here’s a prescription for triumphing over depression, discouragement and adversity…

 

1.     TAKE CARE OF THE PHYSICAL- R n R

 

The first thing to do is to deal with the physical stressors you face. Depression is characterised by lack of sleep, anger, weight loss or gain, loss of energy and recklessness. Before you delve deeper into your depression, meet the physical needs.

 

God did that with Elijah. God knew he was exhausted, discouraged and hungry. He had physical needs, like any other man. He lost his appetite; his thinking was disturbed; he withdrew from everyone. During this dark period, he curled up under a tree, wanting to die. He was weighed down by life

 

Proverbs 12:25

 

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

 

So what did God do? Chastise him? Rebuke him for lack of faith? No, God loved him and first met his physical needs…

 

1 Kings 19:4-6

He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

 

If you are depressed, don’t add guilt at being depressed to your depression! God does not condemn you this morning, He loves you, He has plans for you and He is here to lift you out of the pit you find yourself in.

 

Matthew 11:28-30

 

“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.”

2.     SHARE THE LOAD

 

Depression almost always means isolation, and it’s in isolation that the devil can pick you off at will. You may feel alone as Elijah did, but the truth is like him you are not alone.

 

1 Kings 19:18

Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

 

Whatever you face today, don’t do it alone! We have people here who will stand with you, cry with you, pray with you and work with you to help God lift you out of depression.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,

one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

The three strands are you, your supportive friend and Jesus!

 

3.     SPEND TIME WITH GOD

 

God loves you and walks with you through your depression. He is always there, waiting for you to turn to Him. He says,

 

Psalms 34:18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

If you want to triumph over depression and graduate from the University of Adversity, reading His Word is essential. The better you know Him, the better you will be, so take our reading plan and read the Bible every day.

 

And don’t miss church. Many people isolate themselves when they get down, but it is when you are feeling down that you need to be at church, especially this one. Join a connect group, arrange coffee with someone, get involved, because it brings you closer to God, and can help to lift the burden from your shoulders.

 

4.     LISTEN TO GOD’S VOICE

 

 

It is not always easy to hear the voice of God, but as you fellowship with Him you will learn to distinguish his voice. We live in a crazy busy world, so you need to be quiet before God and really listen.

 

Most often in our down times God speaks quietly, He doesn’t scream at us!

 

1 Kings 19:11-12

 

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

 

 

If you can’t hear Him, ask someone here who can to share with you. Whatever you do, don’t go through your depression alone, because we have people here who long to share the journey out of depression with you.

 

DECIDE NOW

 

The first step towards healing is to decide that you’ve had enough of being like this. Almost all of us pass through valleys, but some of us decide to set up camp there. Don’t stay in the valley when the heights are calling you…

 

Psalms 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

 

If you are in the valley of the shadow of death today, God is right there with you, and we are right here for you. Here’s a famous poem that really illustrates this…

 

Footprints in the Sand – by Mary Stevenson

 

One night I dreamed a dream.

As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.

Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.

For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,

One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

 

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.

I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,

especially at the very lowest and saddest times,

there was only one set of footprints.

 

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.

“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,

You’d walk with me all the way.

But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,

there was only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

 

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you

Never, ever, during your trials and testings.

When you saw only one set of footprints,

It was then that I carried you.”

 

Do you know Jesus? Are you in the valley right now?