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1 Kings 19 – Dealing with Elijah’s Depression

January 1, 2009

1 Kings 19 – Dealing w/ Elijah’s Depression

Unrealistic expectations- thought all would be miraculous, no more struggles, Baal worship would be completely ended and all would be done through his influence

Enduring much hardship – physical and emotional hardship

Isolation from spiritual friends/support

Messiah complex – “I have to do it all—I alone will do things or can do things right’

Vv 1-3 – as with Elijah, how you see and process a situation will deeply affect how you respond, live, talk, act to a situation….must keep a divine perspective.. God holds us responsible for trusting in Him, for obedience, for love, for endurance, and for faithfulness to do what He has called us to do. He does not hold us responsible for the results. The results are in His hands, not ours. We can’t change people, and we often can’t change our circumstances, only God can. Further, our expectations can easily slip into a sense of a demandingness–demanding that things work out the way we think they should. When that happens we are usurping God’s sovereignty and acting as though we the creature were the all wise Creator (cf. Job. 40:1-9). When we focus on our expectations and make the results we want the source of our happiness, security, or significance, we end up in the Elijah syndrome–fearful, ready to run away, and engulfed in feelings of failure and depression or fear and frustration.

Vs3.4  – why did he leave his servant? To protect him, easier for Elijah to hide, or was he just giving up on the ministry…cf. chapter 17 “God told him to flee, not so here” decision made out of fear and not confidence in God….it will always get us in trouble..

Vs 4 –I’ve had it; I give up; I have done all that I can do to effect God’s will; I am discouraged with the results, seeing that I can do no more God you must be done with me.” Why did he ask to die? Jezebel was trying to do that and he fled. She would have gladly helped him…at great moments of discouragement we say things we don’t really mean some times….But the Lord is still graciousl  He is a man who seems to feel that his significance to God is somehow dependent upon his success in ministry as a prophet.God cared for His servant at his greatest time of failure..NOTE: the goodness of God in NOT answering His servant’s request…God had bigger plans for him…LESSON: What we think is not always what God thinks, even if in our minds it is  a “good plan”  At this point Elijah experienced the crushing disappointment that God seemed not to keep his part of the bargain. The prophet assumed that if they won the victory on Mount Carmel that God would therefore act to bring about a change in the people, but it didn’t happen. Resentment against God began to descend on Elijah’s heart so that in despair he finally said, “Let me die. It’s not worth living. God, you’ve disappointed me too deeply. If I can give as much of my life and my heart as I have to you and have it turn out like this, I don’t want to live anymore.”

Vs 5- large amounts of stress will cause you to physically be tired and sleep much …this is an indicator to push to renew one’s hope in God, or better yet, pray for God to renew your hope..NOTE: at this time God doesn’t rebuke his servant…he first attends to his other needs…What a gracious God, Saviour who cares about every aspect of our lives.

Vs 5c, 6 – God sends what His servant needs to be restored…..starting 1st with his physical needs – God treats us as body and soul, holistically. Our physical can have a bearing on our spiritual trials. Remember also, he had just ran over 80+ miles through the hot desert on foot! Add this to the fact that his life was threatened, he had a lot on his mind, it’s not unlikely that he was physically and emotionally tired…

Vs 7 – Sometimes we feel like what we are going through is too much for us to endure…and the truth is, that is correct. God often calls us to go beyond what we are able to do/endure in order that it will be shown that He was the one who enabled us to make the hard/impossible journey. By it, we (like Elijah) see that God is able to get us through anything, no matter how ridiculously hard it is …..

Vs 8 – there will be times that the Lord will call you to do without things that you regularly expect to have…he went in the strength the Lord provided him with, not what he could get strength from through normal means (that is, getting his own food, eating at his own pace and leisure- of course, eating normally would have also provided for him physically but God had better things in mind)…usually only took 14 days by foot by now was going to take 40 days Why? Cf. Israel in the wilderness for forty years and Jesus in the desert for 40 days….in the desert is where God takes people to learn about Him and it also proves as a time of testing…Moses also spent 40 days fasting waiting on God to get him ready for a new phase of ministry…Elijah was not only ready to give up on his own ministry, but he was ready to give up on the people God wanted to reach.

Vs9 – Why are you here? God had not sent him to Horeb as he had to the other places…Elijah went there out of fear and/or searching for God to give him answers…God used Elijah’s mistake to bring good to Elijah anyways…God is sovereignly good and will take everything in our lives and use it for our good so that we know Him better….NOTE: God ministers to his people unlike all other religions in the world where you only serve them…

Vs 9, 10 – they have done everything that they can do to stop your will/ your worship from going forth. I have done all that I can to change the situation and yet it is still the same. Elijah used the energy that God had given him through all the provisions to argue with God about his case…Elijah here shows that despite all what God had done for him, he was still a normal man with weaknesses like ours (Cf James 5)…lesson: we can also be used by God despite our small abilities….we just need to be willilng…Lesson: Nowhere does God say that serving Him will not involve hardship, matter of fact the opposite is promised (Phil. 1:29)

Vs 11, 12 – the strong elements were to prepare the mind to see the graciousness of God in the still small voice…cf. the purpose of the law and its terrors is to get us ready to see the mercy of God in the gospel of His beloved Son

Vs 13 – God’s grace brings out worship and respect in us “hiding his face in the mantle”



19:9 – God addresses our most basic needs…at times has to call our attention to it because we get sidetracked/ blind sided to what is really going on

Helps us process and reflect on our perspective and attitude

Corrects our perspective and attitude with his truth

80 miles from Jezreel (victory) to Beersheba (depressed, left servant behind)….remember, ran this distance, rocky soil, arid weather hot

Another 200 miles from Beersheba to Mount Horeb

Mt Horeb same general area where God had early spoke to Israel – MT Sinai

Vv 11,12 – usually descriptions of God coming in judgment – God was not coming to condemn his prophet even though he was discouraged, fled for his life, physically tired, emotionally worn out, all alone, did not stand up to Jezebel but compare how God did come

Vs  12c, 13- Still, soft voice “again, why did God ask Elijah a question?” to help Elijah see his own heart so that he could see the wonder of God’s grace in His answer and supply for Elijah


Vs 15 – cf with vs 3 – Elijah is told to go back to work…don’t stay hidden, don’t live out of fear, do what you know to do, God will take care of the rest. 


Even though Elijah was ready to give up, God did not give up on Elijah:

1)      recomissioned him for another task 2) promised he would have help in his job 3) promised him the ultimate defeat of Israel’s enemies/wickedness 4) Promised that his labor was not in vain because God had spared 7000 for himself who had not worshipped Baal

2)      How did God correct Elijah’s perspective? “It’s not all up to you. I have a very thorough and complete plan in place. My plan will not succeed or fail based only on you. I will accomplish what I want accomplished when I want it accomplished.

3)      Correction: “you are not alone…I have others also>””

4)      Correction “go back and play your role, trusting me to play my role”

5)      Psalm 103:8-13

6)      What are you doing here? Emotionally, spiritually lost, spiritually not pursuing God, What has got you down? What has got you doing the things you are/are not doing? Why do you view them this way?


Overall: 1) Note how easy and fast it is to go from being high to being low and depressed about life….We all have feet of clay…we need to be careful how we handle each other…everyone is able to fall quickly….we also need to minister to others in their times of being down,,..this is one of the times we can be most like God….be sensitive to other people’s situations.

2) Lesson: we can get sidetracked when we base what how we live on what we think we see and understand rather than remembering the God is working all the while behind the scenes in ways we could never imagine…ex. Will judge Israel, had 7000 worshippers Elijah did not know about…

3) Remember: where God is concerned, things are never as bad as they seem

4) Find a friend with whom to share your burdens and blessings

5) anger and hurt can quickly lead to self-pity

6) God asks Elijah twice so that he would recall what he was doing and see where he went wrong…we often need to retrace our steps to see where we have went wrong…


He got Elijah active and involved in ministry again. Note the “Go, return on your way . . .” in verse 15. When feeling down, depressed, apart from getting needed rest, do not give in to the temptation to mope about and do nothing. Doing nothing only reinforces the depression. By the same token, never use activity to narcotize the pain. Give it to the Lord. Rest, relaxation, and solitude with the Lord needs the balance of involvement in work and ministry, but always out of a spirit of faith, never just activity.

Depression, as we have been discussing it here, is not something we catch like a virus, something that is unavoidable. We bring it on ourselves by wrong thinking and wrong choices, and for some reason we unconsciously choose to get depressed. It is a choice we do not want to make, but we make it anyway. Why do we choose it? Because it is one of our strategies for coping with our disappointments. Depression is simply a man-made and temporary solution to our pain. The world offers many solutions for relief, but they are not only temporary and shallow, but they invariably lead us away from God’s solutions. This makes them part of Satan’s program of deception. People want to feel better and to be comfortable. Some of our ways of coping may be legitimate, but if they do not ultimately lead us to find and know God’s sufficiency, they become a part of the problem rather than the solution. As Proverbs teaches us, “there is a way that seems right unto man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12).

We must count the costs of depression. Depression costs us tremendously in terms of our productivity, our effectiveness, and our happiness physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Depression affects us in every sphere–at home, on the job, in the community, and in our church and in the Lord’s work.


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