Below is 1 Kings 19:3-17. This story occurred right after Elijah had performed amazing feats for God. He had just finished calling down fire from heaven and destroying all of the prophets of Baal. Yet, he was still afraid and exhausted.
3 Elijah was afraid [a] and ran for his life.
He ran away, sent away his servant (the person closest to him, his only constant companion), and went into isolation. Many times, when we have overdone it, tried to carry burdens that are not our own, or tried simply to deal with our depression in secret, we hide ourselves away from everyone else.
We actually make things worse by keeping ourselves away from people who can help us. We cut off those closest to us, even our closest companions. Sometimes it is because we hear the lie that they don’t want to hear the same stuff over and over. Sometimes it is because we’re just too tired to talk about it anymore. But isolation is the last thing a depressed person needs!
Exhausted, Elijah sat down and told God He had had enough and wanted to die. Have you ever hit that point where you just wanted to scream, “I’ve had enough, God! No more!”? That’s where Elijah was.
When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
He fell asleep, and God sent angels to give him food and drink and let him sleep. God acknowledged Elijah’s depleted physical condition. He ministered to those physical needs first, before He showed Himself personally to Elijah.
Sometimes, we have worn ourselves down to the point that we have stopped taking care of ourselves. We are not sleeping all the way through the night, we are not eating things that will make us healthy (perhaps only comfort food that may not be good for us), we are not getting any exercise to release the stress.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 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.
7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank.
Notice how, after some physical rest and sustenance, Elijah was still exhausted, but not to the point of wanting to die. Elijah still felt everything was going badly, everyone was after him, and he was the only prophet left in the land. But he didn’t want to die anymore.
He was also now able to deal directly with God. Elijah told the Lord how he had served the Lord faithfully, and now he was having to run for his life. God responded by showing Elijah that regardless of the storms that enveloped him, God would be with Elijah and be found by Elijah if he would be still and listen for Him.
Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 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.”
In this next famous passage, God was not actually IN the overpowering external storms of wind, fire or earthquake that came next. When we are in the middle of the storm, sometimes we simply cannot feel or hear God inside of it. Elijah had to wait for the storms to PASS BY before he was able to find God in a gentle whisper. Sometimes we simply have to HOLD ON while the storm rages until we can find that moment of stillness where we can find God again.
11 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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
14 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.”
Now pay attention to what God tells Elijah to do. God revealed to Elijah that He had already chosen beforehand people who would help Elijah carry out his mission. He realized that Elijah was too weak to go on by himself, and He raised up people who were ready, willing and able to take on some of the burden, and even take over his responsibilities.
15 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. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.
The last lesson in this story is that God did NOT bring those helpers to Elijah. Elijah had to go to those people to get his help, which Elijah did next in the chapter. The Lord didn’t baby Elijah and make all of his troubles go away. He made a way of escape for Elijah, but Elijah still had to obey God’s words in order to make his escape.
Did you know that God has chosen people to help you through your depression, fear and anxiety? That is the purpose of the body of Christ. We are to help one another – not carry the other person’s entire load, but help them walk under the weight of it. Who is it around you that you believe could be a faithful friend during this time of personal crisis? Has He revealed anyone to you? If not, pray that He would.
In the meanwhile, you are free to find love, prayers and assistance here from me and any others on the forum. If Elijah can go through this, and He was found faithful enough to be taken away in a chariot of fire, then you don’t have to feel so bad about being depressed and exhausted either.
Just remember to take care of yourself physically. Get sleep, good food and exercise (even if just a little exercise). Try to find some quiet time to listen for God, and then, if He reveals to you someone who might be able to help you, obey what He says, and you will be one step closer to finding your escape.