Depression

Contributed by: Phil Trotter

Opener

Share a time when you were really down or depressed (the goal is to show how common and normal depression is.)

OR

Show the YouTube clip Like Minds campaign: You make the difference (John Kirwan) (1m 2secs).

Depression in the Bible

EITHER: Introduce (or play) the song/music video of “Rivers Of Babylon”. One of the most well known pop songs from the 70’s is a song about a depressed people and it comes straight from the Bible (Psalm 137:1-4.) Yet in singing about it, a real joy and healing comes through.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered Zion (x2).
When the wicked carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now how shall we sing the lord’s song in a strange land (x2)
Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight (x2)

(Songwriters: Brent Dowe, James Agustus McNaughton, Frank Farian, George Reyam)

OR: (if your group are too cool for 70’s pop)… just start by asking: When you think of ‘Depression’ and ‘The Bible’ – does anything come to mind?

In fact – the Bible depicts some of its greatest people in states of depression: Job, Elijah, Jeremiah. Sixty of the Psalms are ‘Laments’ which cry out to God, asking, “Why?”, “Where are you?”, etc… In fact, there is a whole book called Lamentations (known as the saddest book in the Bible.)

Read Lamentations 3:16-33. & Psalm 42

Ask: What darkness and what light – is offered by this text? (Answer: Hopelessness & Hope).

Prophet on the Run — Elijah’s Depression

Read 1 Kings 19:3-21

Read again verse 4. Depression is very common. It is probably the most common human problem. We may all experience it at some time in our lives. The Bible records many great people of God experiencing misery and depression – even to the point of death. These great OT characters were people like us.

The prophet Elijah has been threatened with death because he has challenged the worship of the god Baal. Elijah knows that the threats are serious. Therefore, he flees in fear, alone, to the desert. There he sinks into a deep depression, even wanting to die. God finds ways to bring gifts of hope to Elijah in the midst of his depression.

Ask: How does Elijah express his hopelessness in his words? How does Elijah express his hopelessness in his actions?

Understanding depression & a way forward

What we see in this story of Elijah’s depression and how he moved forward:

He was very tired so God made him sleep. God gave him food.

He had just had a great spiritual high. (Read 1 Kings 18:16-39.) He was so happy. Then it came – depression! The devil wants to discourage us. He wants to take away our joy and peace in God.

He met God in a quiet place. Find some quiet place to meet with God. Your mind may be full of doubts. You may even feel that it will be of no practical use. Just do it. Go to him and be still. Elijah’s story speaks about ‘a quiet, gentle voice’ (v11-12).

Elijah went to a “happy place”. God knew where Elijah was going. It was the place where God gave the Law to Moses. Elijah feared that people no longer appreciated God’s law, so it was natural for him to go there. It was also the place where God talked to Moses (Exodus 34:29); where God showed what he wanted for his people (Deuteronomy 5).

God gave him something new to do (v15-17). Depression can come from only thinking about ourselves. This type of attitude is not healthy. Service for others can be a way forward.

God helped him see his life as it really was (v9-13). Through communication with God we can be free from our wrong ideas.

God provided him with a companion in Elisha (v16-21).