A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on August 3, 2008 by Pastor Dale Raether Even One of God’s Best Got Depressed I Kings 19:9-18Children, have you ever had this book read to you? It’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Just let me read the first page.I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Each page describes more bad things that happen, and the boy’s solution. He wants us to move to Australia. Children, do you think moving to Australia will solve all his problems? No, and in this book the mom tell him, that some days are like that even - in Australia. You adults, have you ever had the kind of day you could move to Australia or at least hop on a Southwest jet to somewhere? We joke about this, yet one the most depressing things for a Christian is being depressed. That’s because when a Christian gets depressed, not only does he feel down, he feels guilty. You see, we know that God is in control, and so feeling down is like telling God, He’s doing a lousy job. After guilt, comes anger, because God’s not helping us, or so it seems. After anger comes fear, because what if God punishes us for being angry at Him? And so goes the vicious cycle. Something bad happens, we feel depressed. We feel depressed, and so we feel guilty. We feel guilty, and so we get angry. We get angry, and so we fear more bad things will happen. Have you ever been on that vicious cycle? Our next this morning has some good news for everyone who has. Even One of God’s Best Got Depressed. But why is that good news? Well, if one of God’s best prophets, Elijah, could get depressed, then getting depressed doesn’t mean we aren’t Christians, or that God is giving up on us. And so now, let’s see how God helped His depressed best. 1. He gave Elijah nourishing food and rest. 2. He listened to Elijah’s anger and fear. 3. He revealed Himself to Elijah through His Word. 4. He gave Elijah a new mission. 5. He gave Elijah a friend.In the verses before our text, there had been a big show down between Elijah and 500 prophets of the idol, Baal. God’s side of course won, and all the people of Israel shouted, “The Lord, He is God. The Lord, He is God.” At this point Elijah was on an emotional and spiritual high; but it didn’t last very long. Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel, put out a death warrant on Elijah. And so, Elijah fled the country, fearing that all his hard work in turning people to God was for nothing. He said, “I have had enough, LORD. Take my life.” And then he lay down to sleep. But here’s how the Lord answered his prayer. “All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”We are physical beings. None of us are so strong that we can get by without proper food and rest. And so, ask yourselves, what’s in your diet? Personally, if I eat according to that famous food pyramid, I feel great. On the other hand if I load up on the sugars, mentally and physically I get down. So, does this mean I’m always eating according to the food pyramid? No because ice cream tastes better than broccoli! Another self-inflicted cause of feeling down is stressing too much. God created us to sleep about 8 hours a day and to take one day in seven off. If we’re not doing that, we are going to have problems. Yet what if it’s not possible because of circumstances to get proper food and rest? We can minimize the effects by praying for our daily bread, and by working hard to make the most of what we do have. And through these means God does help us to feel better, but not always!We read on in our text, “And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken 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."” God is our Heavenly Father. He made us His dear children by sending His Son to be our Savior, and by giving us His Spirit to live in our hearts. Because we are His children, we can’t help being down at times over the way things are going in this sinful world. However, when being down leads to depression as in Elijah’s case, and when depression leads to anger and fear as in Elijah’s case, God isn’t going to stop being our Heavenly Father. Rather He patiently listens to our complaining. So, then, here’s another thing that helps when we’re down. Tell God. Tell Him what’s going on in your life. Tell Him how angry and fearful you are, and don’t hold back! For example, go down to the ocean and throw a stone into it; why, in fact throw lots of stones into it. No matter how many stones your throw into it, the ocean is still going to be there. In the same way no matter how many angry and fearful thoughts we send God’s way, His love for us in Christ is still going to be there. However, what if one of our fears is that God will listen, but he’s not going to do anything about our problems? Here’s how God helped Elijah handle that fear. “The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." 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. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face.” Elijah had wanted to see physical proof that God was taking care of things. Now, the disciples had that kind of proof, when Peter walked on water, or when with a word Jesus calmed a violent storm. Nevertheless God doesn’t want us looking for physical proofs. Rather God wants us to be looking to His Word. However, even when we do, sometimes it might seem that He’s being silent toward us. For example, say we’re having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. We open up our Bibles. We read it. But it’s just words, because our problems keep on spinning around in our heads. If this happens, let’s not assume God’s Word is failing us. Rather, keep on setting aside time each day to quietly read His Word. Then, like a seed growing underneath the ground, our faith will be growing. Eventually our faith will grow to the point where others start seeing changes in us. And in time maybe we’ll see changes in us. However, don’t make that your focus. Rather keep Christ as your focus and how He paid for our sins, and how He’s gives us faith, and how He’s not going to let anything separate us from His love for us, including life and death and also depression, guilt, anger, and fear. However, when a person is really down, sometimes even God’s quiet Word is too intense for a person. So it was for Elijah. When he heard God’s quiet whisper, he pulled his cloak over his head. He couldn’t take the very thing he needed the most. However that he couldn’t take it yet did not make God angry with him. Instead God let Elijah complain some more, and then God helped Elijah by giving him a new mission. We read, “The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.” God’s new mission for Elijah assured him, that God’s Kingdom was going to keep moving forward, in spite of all the problems he was seeing. In fact, God assured Elijah that he wasn’t the only believer left – there were 7000 in Israel, which aren’t very many – but it was a start. What new mission is God giving you? Jesus said, “As you go, make disciples of all nations.” As you go about your day to day life, see the messed up people who don’t know their Savior. Pray for them. Pray for the words to speak. Also pray for patience and gentleness and faithfulness in your daily life, so that in time you can get a reputation that leads people to ask you for the reason for your hope, in spite of having horrible, terrible, no good, very bad days. Now, maybe they’ll listen to you. Or, maybe you’ll just be planting or watering the seed. And so, to help us keep on being patient and gentle and faithful, God gives us yet one more help in overcoming depression. Look again at that last verse, “Annoint Elisha Son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.” God helped Elijah by giving him Elisha to be his friend, his co-worker, and ultimately his successor. Do you have a close friend? I don’t just mean someone you can hang with or go to the movies together. Do you have a friend that you can read the Bible with, pray with, and work at your new mission with? A lot of Christians might say, “No”, and that could be one reason why a lot of Christians are feeling down. Yet how do we find such a friend? Ask! For example you could say, “I have this really neat study Bible, would you be willing to read it with me and talk about the things it talks about? Having fellowship with someone in the Word, is perhaps God’s ultimate help against depression. However, with all the helps Elijah had, did his depression immediately go away? Actually he had at least some, until God miraculously took him to heaven. So, what does that mean for us? Well, feeling down or depression continues, let’s keep remembering that through our Baptism, we are joined to Jesus, which means that we are His children. Since we are His children, let’s keep praying and doing the best we can in taking care of our bodies. Let’s talk freely to God about our problems. Let’s listen to the still small voice of His Word. Let’s busy ourselves with the opportunities He gives to pray for and witness to and help others. And finally let’s invite a friend to join us in the Word. In doing all these things, day by day with God’s help we will hold on to our faith and we will give praise to God. Finally, if depression is maybe the worst a Christian can go through, aren’t those who conquer it in this way also among God’s best? They are! Amen.

Back to Sermons by Topic