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7th August: Biblical Case Histories (2) -- Elijah's Depression Problem

'I have had enough, Lord' he said, 'Take my life'. 1 Kings 19:4 (NIV)

Elijah met his depression problems towards the end of his life. In his zeal for God, he had incurred the hatred of King Ahab's wicked queen, Jezebel. She swore to have him killed -- and sent a messenger to tell him so. Jezebel did nothing by half measure.

The case record goes on:

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 desert. He came to a broom tree, and 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 tree and fell asleep.

This was just the culminating event in a life for God that had been physically, mentally and spiritually demanding almost to the limit of human endurance. Elijah had had enough, as he said, and God treated him gently. There were some tasks still to be done, but God's resources were at hand. Food and water strengthened Elijah' body. A vision of the Lord himself renewed his spirit. He learnt that Elisha was to take over his work as prophet. So he was encouraged and enabled to do the rest of what God had for him to do. And he was taken up to heaven in a blaze of glory.

The experience of this great man of God was not unique. It would scarcely be said that his depression was any more than a natural reaction to a prolonged stressful experience. But it did get him down. And God gave him the help that he needed -- just as our Lord found strength from his Father after the temptation in the wilderness and when he agonised in Gethsemane. The same Lord is with us to understand and help when things get us down, when we have had enough.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of they peace.

J G Whittier

Further reading: 1 Ki 19:1-9.


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