One of the most surprising lessons I learned about depression as a Christian is that there are examples of depression in the Bible. I was pretty shocked to study this as I always thought depression was a sign of weakness or worse yet, defeat.
In his book about depression, author Phil Tuttle calls depression “The silent killer of God’s servants”. I can certainly resonate with that. I have spent much time especially on Sundays wrestling with a deep sense of darkness in my soul. I remember struggling with the energy needed to get in front of people, and struggling with caring for others when I feel so low myself. I remember wrestling with seasons when I have no idea why I feel such darkness in my heart. I searched for deep sins and logical reasons for the depression that was so real. I sought help, prayed and prayed and prayed!
Then God led me to His Word and hope started to come back a little at a time.
In I Kings chapters 18 & 19 we read Elijah’s five steps in his downward spiral into depression. I won’t go on and on but simply outline for you what happened and I’m sure you will see parts of his pattern in your own life.
- He is physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted – depression so often starts here
- Unmet expectations – This hasn’t gone like I think it should have
- Suicidal thoughts – Thinking there is no escape
- Lost perspective – “I am the only one left….”
If we are going to learn to live with depression it’s important to start with understanding how we spiral down. If we can start to see patterns we can be better equipped to respond to the soul darkness we feel.
For me at least, these 5 stages Elijah went through resonate with me so much. I don’t like resting, that’s what sleep is for. I struggle with just being still. Anyone who knows me would say I’m active. So periods of physical and emotional exhaustion come pretty regularly. Serving as a pastor as an imperfect person serving imperfect people there will be a steady stream of unmet expectations. I am definitely that guy that responds to the first two stages with a response of withdrawal. I look back and see how this part of the spiral takes me down. It’s hard to ask for help. I have a million reasons why I shouldn’t share this struggle with anyone. I have never wrestled with serious thoughts of suicide but I have known times when I feel paralyzed. It’s in that place that all reality and perspective is lost. I feel very much alone and I feel very hopeless.Can you resonate with these stages in your own life? I would love to help as I am able. I can pray for you at least. You are not alone in so many ways. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.