Inspiration and Encouragement

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Spiritual Depression

By Chette Nichols Jr  –  November 9, 2012

Ever get depressed to the point of not wanting to go on in life?

Ever feel like you’re the only one in all the world going through what your going through?

That is Spiritual Depression.

Well spiritual depression is a condition of all men, even among the saved, because we have an enemy that would seek to rob us of our vitality and strength.  There are cycles in a Christians life, well anyone’s life for that matter, and we go through times of plenty and times of want (Ecc 3:1-8).  And it always seems that during the times of want we see wickedness prevail in our lives but God uses all things to work for good in our lives Romans 8:28.

Depression is common to all men, secular psychiatrist call it a “mental or nervous breakdown”.  However God has given us a way of escape.   1Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].    We only fail to recognize this and go quickly to him with all things.  I like the attitude of Job when wickedness and evil befell him he said, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”  We must always remember for us these events are nothing more than a form of chastisement for he who trust in God and Christ for salvation. The symptoms of a nervous breakdown or spiritual depression include despairity, worry, anxiety, fear, sinfulness, thoughts of suicide, and anti-social behavior.

The greatest example of the spiritual depression that we all experience is that of one of the greatest prophets ever known.  He did great deeds, his words came true and yet he was just a man like you and me.  This man was Elijah.  We have no record of his birth, though we know he is a Tishbite from Gilead.  He seems to come from obscurity and in the pages of scripture he jumped into action and when he has completed his course God carried him away.

James wrote this about him. James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, . . .  Did you get that he was a regular guy and man like any other troubled the same way as we.

A little context might help.  He just finished proving to Israel that the LORD was the true God and that the people should serve him.  After the Baalite priest were unable to get their god to answer with fire upon their sacrifice.  Elijah not only built an alter and set in place the sacrifice but he drenched it with so much water that no man could ever get it to ignite with a gallon of gas and a large box of matches.  After God answered and consumed the sacrifice he then killed the 400 Baalite priests.  He has gone home and receives word that the queen is out to get him.

Let’s look at this moment in the life of this enigmatic man, lets see how one gets into a spiritual depression and what it takes to get out of it.  Like all problems in our lives there are generally steps that lead to its onset and to its end.

1Kings 19:1-18

I.   Vv 1-5 The Cause and Symptoms of Spiritual Depression
1)  Vv1, 2 Receiving and believing an evil report.

1Kings 19:1, 2 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.

Listening to gossip, false reports, evil reports, and other words of men that are meant to discourage and dishearted, and then believing what you heard.   Sometimes these words and reports come into your own mind and you give yourself to accepting them as real.  The enemy of our very souls is very good at this type of speaking into our hearts.  And this is the number one way that a saved person is lead into depression by believing what is not true or real.   Instead of taking this report to God Elijah runs.

2)  Vs 3 Results in Fear

1Kings 19:3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.

Elijah then feared for his life.  He lost all trust in God to protect him.  And he runs away from the problem.  You see running from your problems can make things worse not better.  It is sometimes better to face it than run.  2Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. A Christian needs to rehearse this verse when he starts to come under a spiritual depression because once he received the false report it will always lead to fear.

3) Anti-Social Behavior

Another symptom after he feared is he wanted to be alone.  He left his companion and fled even further into his shell of depression.  We call this anti-social behavior, being alone does not help when you are in trouble seek counsel,  fellowship and prayer.  Some Christians get into trouble and like Elijah stop fellowshipping and begin dwelling alone, they don’t come to church, they go off by themselves and despair over their situation. It is actually a sin not to fellowship.  Heb 10:24, 25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  But it is so important to be around other Christians when this comes upon you being alone only aggravates the situation not help.

4)  Vs 4 One sees no way out except death

1Kings 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

All this fear, running and loneliness caused Elijah to question God and desire death.  Many of us do the same things.  We get all wound up in our problems and instead of taking them to God in prayer and placing it on him.  We fear what may come, we run from it, we despair even more, we question God, we underestimate our value in life and eventually we will feel that the only way out is if we were dead.  

Suicide is as high amongst Christians as it is among non-Christians.  It is because we fail to find the power in Christ and the comfort of God’s word the Holy Bible.  Again we find our self confronted with the need to be in the word and more so when the enemy of our flesh or the devil is using this spiritual depression to destroy you.  God would use it for good while the enemy uses it for your destruction.

5)  Vv 4, 10, 14 Exaggeration of the Problem

1Kings 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
1Kings 19:10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
1Kings 19:14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

One of the worst enemies we have at times of depression is our own minds.  Verses 4 along with verse 10 and 14 we see here that Elijah exaggerated his situation.  One should remember we do not know all the facts in our situation and lives as we would like to have people believe.  Our flesh and the devil want us to see our problem a lot bigger than it really is.  Depression causes one not to think correctly and our minds always seem to make the problem some insurmountable difficulty that can’t be solved.  And like Elijah many of us end up  believing that the whole world is out to get us.

6)  Vs 5 Inactivity
1Kings 19:5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.

Up until the time the Lord asks what he was doing there in all this situation he never once talks to God.  He was inactive in his service to God.  He was inactive in the word of God so this too compounds the problems and will lead one to end up sleeping to much.  It tires the person and wears them out and sleep is often an escape from reality.  Depressed people tend to sleep a lot.

Now that we looked at the causes of spiritual depression lets look at how we can avoid and combat it.

II.   Vv 6-18 The Cure and Actions for Spiritual Despair

1) Vs 6 Rest and a Good Diet

1Kings 19:5, 6 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.  And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.

Believe it or not a proper diet and nutrition are needed to stay spiritually strong.   Exhaustion is a common cause of depression.  Whenever we over exert ourselves with no relaxation or rest we make ourselves more vulnerable to spiritual depression.

If a person does not eat well the rest his mind cannot think properly nor can he process problems logically.  Seek to eat well if in your power to do so or ask the Lord to supply your food.  Remember during the drought and famine God had the Raven feed Elijah with bread and meat.  God will feed his servant where he has sent them.  He feeds an obedient servant.  Elijah was both of those.

2)   Vv 7, 8 Be Active

1Kings 19:7, 8 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.  And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

You will notice that after the angels fed and he rested he ate again and went 40days and Nights on that second meal. Talk about power food. Good vigorous exercise and hard work will keep you mentally and spiritually strong.

Vv 9-18 Be active in Serving the Lord

1Kings 19:9-18  And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?  And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.  And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?  And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.  And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.  And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.  Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Once Elijah was in the right place and in the right spirit and mind.  He could hear God and be ministered too.  It is there you will finally know the truth.  Elijah was given a new revelation that he was not the only one left of the prophets but God had preserved 7000 who were undefiled in Idolatry.  

People who are in spiritual depression often can’t receive the truth of God’s word.  They are not in right mind, body and spirit to receive anything from God or His Word.  Many times even when they are reading it they don’t hear or see because their spiritual condition is hindering their understanding.  You will be amazed how clear God’s word becomes as you get back into the right relationship with him and others.

Remember this was man of like passions as we.  He was prone to the things of man as everyone else and depression was one of those passions that men have.  Don’t be discouraged, if one of the greatest prophets of the Bible is said to be a man of like passions as we are then surely as God had brought him through he will do the same for us.  And like Elijah once you get back on your feet go back to serving the Lord.



The Battles Afoot

By Chette Nichols Jr

As I continue in our work to declare unto the lost and saved all the counsel of God, I am met not just with the physical opposition of the lack of our daily needs but with the spiritual bombardment of the enemy and his fiery darts.  I have discovered that it is far easier to fight an enemy that is without than the enemy that is within, that is my flesh.  As i anticipate with clockwork the coming of the multiplicity of my responsibilities and commitments and see those days approach, my flesh becomes my worse nightmare and enemy.

The scenarios begin to race through my mind, I become fearful and anxious at the prospect of not being able to complete my monthly commitments and knowing the result is not to have the things we need to function normally. The thought that my children will not have their daily bread is heartbreaking or that we wont have electric or water to see, wash and drink, these begins to chip away at my very soul even unto despair.  I begin to question did I do the right thing?  Have I made the right choices?  Am I following the right course?  And as these questions pound in my head and my heart the fear and anxiety begin to kill my spiritual vitality and sap what little strength I have left.  I awake in the night and I begin to doubt and to cry out, Oh my Lord, why hast thou forsaken me .  I even want to raise my voice in opposition to what the Lord has allowed to take place.  And more importantly, why is it, the Lord remains so silent at this time of trial and tribulation.  The flesh and the devil begin to rattle their sabers in preparation of their victory to cry havoc and to destroy.

Then suddenly as a dry well that fills in Spring, God’s very words begin to well up as from a darkened pit within my soul.  Verses like, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:26-28.   And as God’s word begins to restore unto me the lost vigor from the fight others verses begin to make their way to the surface, like, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phl 4:6, 7   They come tumbling like stones that avalanche off a great mountain and hit my spirit with full force, wiping at least for the moment the enemy from the field. This help, that comes only from him and is not of me, only causes me to cease from fighting and to drop to my knees and praise him for his goodness and grace.  I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1, 2  I cry out unto him I know these verses, I have been taught them and memorized them.  These very simple words strike against the swords of my enemy and back them in the field of battle and for the moment abate their attack.

It is there that these verses become so much more richer and more meaningful than they ever were over the years, yet they only comfort for the day.  And as the day sets upon the battle I realize that in the morn a new line will be drawn and once again the enemy will strike and strike hard he will, ever pushing forward to take back any and all ground he can to deprive me of peace, to tire and weary me into submission at his mighty blows.

As I arise to face the new day I gaze upon the field to survey the enemies attack, I am often surprised that I have the vitality to carry on this difficult battle, yet at other times I find myself as weak as a child, as a David would seem against a Goliath.  I find the strength each day in him, to stand, to take up my sword, my shield, my armour of God on the right and the left, to wear the helmet of my salvation with honour, and as I ready myself his word again rolls across my hearts banner, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24


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