June 28, 2009 I Kings 19:1-4
Finding Your Way Up
Intro.: As many of you know, I enjoy traveling. I don't do it often, but I enjoy going places that I have never been. And, occasionally, going places I have gone before.
A. And when I travel, I try to plan my time. I have software that plans my route – and it allows me to follow my route.
(Ill.) Let me give you a couple of examples. Last New Years my wife and I traveled to Nashville, TN. Now, I knew how to get there, but it had two or three years since I driven – and I would never have found my way to the convention center without some help. So I get my computer out, use my GPS software, and plot a route. It gives me directions. I love it when it says, “Take tramp left.” I never have seen that tramp, but I continue to try to hit him. (or is it a her?) I follow it, not really hitting a tramp – and sure enough I get to our hotel without getting lost.
Now, later this fall my wife and I plan on traveling to California. Like we did four or five years ago, we plan on going by train. One of the advantages of going by train is this, I don't need to plan my route. But it is fun to see where I am traveling – especially when there are no roads nearby. So, I turn the same to the same GPS and, rather letting it plan a trip, I allow it to map where we are traveling. I hook the GPS and it displays a map of the state or region where the train is located and it maps our location on the screen. It even draws a line on the map as we travel through along our route to California. It tells me how fast the train is traveling – whether through a city or miles from anywhere high in the Rocky Mountains.
B. Travel becomes easy and enjoyable with our little GPS adapter attached to the computer. But every so often, the screen goes blank – no map, no directions, no hint as to where we are or where we are going. At that point, whether we are driving or trying to follow our train's route, we restart the computer and we seem to get thing working again.But, sometimes, it is not just when we are traveling that we need a GPS – sometimes it for life itself. There are times life seems like that GPS utility that stops working. We get to a place where we don't know which way we are suppose to go.
C. But there is a problem – to fix a misbehaving GPS on the computer, all I need to do is restart the computer. In life, there is no restart button. Some of the problems that get in our way don't have simple solutions.
D. Over the next few weeks, I want to explorer some of the problems that we face in our lives that seem to sidetrack our lives.
E. I have entitled this series “Hurting On The Inside”.
F. I expect that each of us have had times when we have times when we have experienced bitterness over things over which we have no control, or guilt as we relive decisions that we wished we had never made, or failure becomes a stumbling block. And there may be times when our desire to be perfect or our wish that others were perfect gets in our way – that's called perfectionism.
Read: I Kings 19:1-4
Trans: Today I want to explore this thing called depression.
1. Depression has been called the common cold of mental health.
2. One of every five women and one of every eight men will suffer from depression sometime during their life.
3. Research proves that the incidence of depression is rising – not just here in the US, but around the world.
T.S. In the next three minutes I want to address three questions about depression.
I. Question #1: What is depression?
A. Elijah had just fought a horrendous spiritual battle. The prophets of Baal claimed that they served the one God. Elijah had asked them in the middle of a drought to offer a sacrifice. But there was a condition – Baal had to accept the sacrifice himself. They cried to the false God – but Baal did not come.
Then it was Elijah's turn to offer a sacrifice to YHWH. He has the altar filled with water – and when he calls on the Lord to accept the sacrifice, He does. God sets the altar ablaze, the sacrifice is accepted. And that night the drought ends. It rains – a beautiful rain. Not too heavy, not too light. The Lord proved the He alone was God – but it left Elijah distraught. Let me suggest four symptoms that Elijah experienced that indicate the he suffered from depression:
1. H – he was Hungry. Eating problems are a common symtom of depression. In Elijah's case, it was eating not eating. But for some it may be overeating. Food becomes the one thing that the depressed person can control – and they often do, but eating too much or too little.
2. A – Elijah was angry. He felt that he had given his all and now he lashed out at God, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” Someone has said that depression is anger turned inward. You may find yourself lashing out at God, as Elijah did, or you be mad at yourself, or mad at those around you. Anger is a second common symptom of depression.
3. L – Elijah felt lonely. Later in this passage, Elijah tells God that he is the only faithful one left. He is alone.
4. T – Tired. Not only was Elijah spiritually tired, he was also physically tired. Depression disrupts sleep – either too much or too little.
B. Life seems to come to a HALT when we are feeling depressed.
II. Question #2 - Who gets depressed?
A. Every one – here is the spiritual leader of Israel, depressed. Throughout history we can find examples of leaders, artists, scientist, homemakers, and, as was the case of Elijah, spiritual leaders who suffered from depression.
B. For some it mildly inconvenient. For others it is debilitating – they cannot function.
III. Question #3: How does God deal with depression?
A. The first answer I will give is totally wrong. If you go back 200 to 300 years ago, depression was understood as an attack from Satan. If you were depressed, you were not trusting the Lord.
B. But the church has understood that is not a satisfactory solution.
C. Depression may have any number of origins – sin, family problems, stress of any kind. But the result is an imbalance in the brain's chemistry. Something is not working properly.
D. If something is not working properly, then it can be fixed.
E. There is no way for another person to know whether the depression I may experience is the result of sin or is a response to stress or family issues.
F. If you know someone who struggles with depression, it is not your job or my job to fix that person.
G. What we can do is encourage, we can support, we can love that person just as God loves them. Unconditionally.
H. And we can help ourselves – by remembering that we are loved by God, unconditionally. Even as we hurt, even as we struggle, we can remember that God loves us.
Conclusion: Let me conclude with the words of Psalm 130.
1. Psalm 130 is one of the Psalms used by those going to the temple – a Song of Ascents.
2. But it is also the prayer of a man who may have struggled with depression.
3. Listen to what he says. Psalm 130:1-6.