Elijah’s “Depression”

How often in psychologically-oriented books and articles written by Christians, do we find references to Elijah’s so-called “depression?” Sure, he ran away from Jezebel. Of course, he hid in the wilderness. Certainly he was hungry and tired after his long trek—but the fact is none of these things indicate depression. And the further fact is—Elijah was not depressed. And as one final matter, to see him feverishly up to his efforts to escape, is also sufficient evidence that he was not depressed.

Well, then, what was wrong with him? He was pouting! That’s what. He had carried the day on Mt. Carmel, and he expected that, as the result of that great event, there would be a general repentance of the Israelites and a new era for God’s own. That they went back to their old ways almost as soon as the event was over greatly disappointed him. He was so disappointed that he believed Jezebel’s threat and fled from the city, that he had to be asked twice why he had gone to the Mountain cave, and that he had to be taught that God doesn’t always do things on the grand scale of the event on Mt. Carmel. He had to be told that God had others who had not bowed the knee to Baal, that He also works in quiet ways, and not always with thunder lightening, or by fire, as at Carmel. That’s what the still quiet sound was all about. Indeed, though he was almost washed up, there was still work for him to do, a principal task of which was to throw his mantle on his successor, Elisha.

Elijah was too hard a worker to become depressed, and those who attempt to excuse their depression on the basis that even a mighty man of God like him got depressed, are missing the point. It wasn’t depression, but disappointment that you see haunting this man. Things didn’t go as he had expected—as he had planned—and he didn’t like it. That’s the problem with many of us as well. When God doesn’t do things our way, we quit, give up, or try to go our own way. To not be disappointed (when, for instance, the election of a candidate that we had not supported takes place) is the danger for many today. Let’s listen to the story of Elijah anew—and rejoice when God chooses to work in His own quiet manner, rather than in some spectacular way that we might have chosen. He’s still on the throne!


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