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Dealing with Depression | God's Response to Depression

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2024 3:00 am

Dealing with Depression | God's Response to Depression

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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January 18, 2024 3:00 am

It may come as a surprise to some . . . it may be welcome confirmation for others . . . but believers can get depressed. Yes, there are numerous Scriptures about joy and contentment, but we’re humans living in mortal bodies, in challenging times. Well today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie focuses on a depressing time in the life of the great prophet Elijah, and highlights a number of practical principles to help us in our times of challenge. You might want to take some notes.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Sign up at get out of the misery you find yourself in, then turn to Jesus Christ. He's the answer. It may come as a surprise to some, it may be welcome confirmation for others, but believers can get depressed. Yes, there are numerous scriptures about joy and contentment, but we're humans living in mortal bodies in challenging times. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie focuses on a depressing time in the life of the great prophet Elijah, and highlights a number of practical principles to help us in our times of challenge.

You might want to take some notes. Let's grab our Bibles and turn to First Kings, Chapter 18, and the title of my message is Dealing with Depression. We're going to look at, in a way, what could be described as a fall in Elijah's life, or at least a slump, where he fell into a deep depression. But we're also going to look at his recovery.

But before we do that, we'll look at the victory that preceded it. Look at First Kings 18, 27. About noontime, Elijah began mocking them. You'll have to shout louder, he scoffed. For surely he's a god. Maybe he's away on a trip, or he's asleep, or he needs to be wakened. And so they shouted louder. Oh, I left out one word, one phrase.

Perhaps he's daydreaming or is relieving himself. We don't want to miss that one. So shout louder. So they shouted louder following their normal custom. They cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out.

They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice. But still there was no sound, no reply, no response. So Elijah says, yeah, you guys go, do your thing. Okay, you done? Okay, wow, what a mess. Blood everywhere.

Seriously? Now it's my turn. And he says, I want you to repair the altar, which they did. Now I want you to douse it with water. I want you to do it again, do it again. Three times they doused the altar.

Why? Because when God answered this prayer, he wanted everyone to know it was the Lord. First Kings 1836, at the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and I am your servant and I've done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me so these people will know that you Lord are God and that you are turning their hearts back again. I love this prayer.

Just confidence in God. He didn't cut himself, he didn't scream, he didn't yell, he didn't jump up and down. He just prayed.

What happened? First Kings 18 verse 38, then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil and looked up the water in the trench. And when all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, the Lord he is God, the Lord he is God.

Love this. So Ahab goes back to the palace and he tells his wicked wife Jezebel what just happened. She was probably waiting for good news. The prophets of Baal won. Elijah's dead.

It didn't work out quite that way. You know, those prophets, yes, 850, yep, they're dead. They're gone and Elijah's alive. So Jezebel was very angry. First Kings 19, when Ahab got home, he told her everything Elijah had done, including the way he killed all the prophets of Baal. Jezebel sent this message to Elijah, may the God strike me and even kill me by this time tomorrow if I've not killed you, just as you killed them. And now this twist, Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.

Wait, what? Fled for his life? You're the guy that just stood on Mount Carmel. You called fire down from heaven. You're the guy who stopped the rain. You're the guy who raised a little boy from the dead. How could you be afraid?

Why? Because Elijah was human just like we are, James reminds us. Human just like we are. You know we put spiritual leaders on pedestals. We think because God has called them to teach or preach or to lead that they don't have the same pressures and emotions that we all have.

But they're people just like you. Not only was he afraid, he got depressed. First Kings 19, he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed he might die. He said, I've had enough, Lord. Take my life. I'm no better than my ancestors who have already died.

We'll stop there. Elijah was not the first man or woman of God to feel this way. Moses became so blue, he asked God to take his life as well. Jonah, after the great revival of Nineveh, effectively did the same thing. Even the apostle Paul got so down, he said he despaired of life.

Again, he was human like us. Emotions can get the best of us. So let me just close this message with a few points about dealing with depression. Before I do this, let me say this. There is something called clinical depression that is real.

You should talk to your doctor about that. I'm not talking about clinical depression. I'm talking about the kind of depression that we might face in life in general when we get down in the doldrums. So let me say this. Here's my first point. Times of depression and vulnerability often come after great victories.

Let me say that again. Times of depression and vulnerability often come after great victories. Elijah had just had the greatest victory of his life. In fact, everything in his life was effectively building up to this. He was being prepared for it. He goes into the court of Ahab.

He says it's not gonna rain. The Lord calls him to a brook that he gets his water from and ravens drop his food by each day. And then the brook dries up and then the Lord has him go be dependent on a widow to care for him. So the Lord's getting him ready. And then he emerges and he has this amazing event. And then the death threat.

Depression often follows disappointment. Maybe Elijah thought that King Ahab would believe. Maybe he even thought that Jezebel would come around. But the opposite happened.

Ahab went back, ratted out. Elijah and Jezebel put a contract out on his life. So this can happen in our life as well. Maybe you just took a bold step of faith. God used you in a powerful way. And all of a sudden all of this spiritual warfare began.

You didn't even understand it. All of a sudden your kids are turning from the Lord. You're leading people to Christ and your kids are not interested in spiritual things. Or you're having problems in your marriage. Or you're having problems somewhere else. There can be a cause and effect here. And you find yourself slumping into depression. You know, I am not a person that deals with depression in general.

But I've had depressing moments I can tell you that. And you might be surprised to know that I have found that there's a little slump of depression that will come right after we do some big thing. We do a big crusade.

It's all exciting. A bunch of people come to the Lord and I just know Monday morning I'm going to be down. It hits me and here's how I learned how to deal with that. I observed Billy Graham up close and personal. Because toward the end of his ministry I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with him. Helping him with his sermons.

Hanging out with him. And I remember one event in particular. We're in Portland, Oregon. And Johnny Cash sang and Billy Graham preached. The place was packed.

And think about this. This is Portland, Oregon. This is Portlandia, right?

Okay. This is, they're very, it's probably one of the most unchurched cities in America. And so here's Billy Graham preaching. It's like revival-like.

Amazing. All these people come to the Lord and we're on the platform and we're coming down and Billy Graham is now walking out to his car. There are people on each side and we have us sort of holding them back. And I'm right behind him. He's just walking along. His head is kind of down.

People are like Billy, Billy, we love you Billy. He just keeps walking. He gets into the car and we're driving out.

And so I'm thinking you know I want to compliment him and encourage him. So I'm riding shotgun next to T.W. Wilson, his long-time associate. And Billy's in the back seat.

Next to him is his son, Franklin. Turn around over the seat and I say, Billy, that was a great message tonight. Billy looks at me with those steely blue eyes and he says, it was just gospel. Turn back around. Whoa, okay. I knew that. And then I turned back around.

I love that one point when you said, Christ can resensitize your conscience. Billy shot back, well he can. Okay. I turned back. I'm not talking to him anymore.

Clearly the man does not want to be complimented. Then we drove to the hotel. He invited us up to his room. Someone had given us some roast beef sandwiches before the crusade started. That was a long time ago. They were cold. So we are going to all now eat these sandwiches. And Billy disappears for a moment and comes back into the room in his pajamas and dress shoes. I guess he left his slippers at home.

So there is Billy Graham who just preached to thousands of people in his pajamas and dress shoes eating a cold roast beef sandwich. What was a lesson I learned? Don't take yourself too seriously.

Okay. This is something God did. You didn't do it. Return to normal as quickly as possible.

And I observed that in his character and the way he functioned. So don't focus on your emotions. Focus on God. You are not as good as people say you are. You are not as bad as people say you are.

Some of you maybe but I don't know. You are God's servant. You are just doing what God called you to do. Give him the glory and move on. Get over yourself. Don't live in the past. Instead, prepare for the future. I read about a sign that is posted on an airport runway at the end of the road. And the sign says keep moving.

If you stop, you are in danger and in danger to those who are flying. End quote. Just keep moving. And that's what we need to do. I feel down today. Really? Just keep moving forward.

Yeah, but don't obsess about it. Keep moving. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey everybody, I want to encourage you to check out the new Harvest Plus app. It's on Roku, Apple TV, and Google Play among others. And you can stream incredible content on all major platforms for free. You're going to find live events, our evangelistic films like A Rush of Hope, Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon, Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon, and our newest film, Fame. Plus our TV programs, our podcast, Harvest at Home, and a lot more. Stream it all on any device for free using the new Harvest Plus app. Well today, Pastor Greg is presenting some helpful principles that can get us through times of challenge and depression.

Point number two. When you're depressed, do not isolate, but surround yourself with friends. When you're depressed, don't isolate from others.

1 Kings 19, 4. Elijah went on alone in the wilderness traveling all day. He was alone. He needed a trusted friend who could have encouraged him. Often when we're down, we separate from people when we should do the opposite. Even Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to simply sit with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Right? And why?

Because the scripture says he was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Research reveals that three out of five Americans feel lonely. Experts have long known that loneliness and isolation has long-ranging effects on the mind and body, ranging from anxiety and depression to vulnerability and even illness. Having just one or two friendships can dramatically decrease loneliness. Get some friends around you. People that can encourage you. Don't isolate yourself from everyone. And social media is not filled with friends. Get real living, breathing human people around you. Right? Point number three, don't ignore the practical when you're feeling down.

Don't ignore the practical. I love this part. 1 Kings 19, 4. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and he prayed that he might die. I've had enough, Lord.

Take my life. And he laid down and slept under the broom tree. As he was sleeping, an angel touched him and said, get up and eat.

Sounds like a mother. Get up and eat. He looked around and there was some baked bread on hot stones and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and sat down again. Sometimes you don't need a sermon, you need a sandwich. I'm serious.

Sometimes it's the practical. When did you eat last? What did you eat last? Have you gotten some exercise? Have you gone outside? Have you put your phone down and just looked at God's creation or had a conversation with somebody?

You see, sometimes it's the simple things. Final point, when you're feeling down, you need perspective from God's Word. When you're feeling down and depressed, you need perspective from God's Word. 1 Kings 19, 8.

He got up and ate and drank and the food gave him enough strength to travel 40 days and nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. He came to a cave where he spent the night and the Lord said, what are you doing here, Elijah? When we are feeling down, we need to look up and listen for the voice of God. There's a lot of voices coming at us. We need to hear God's voice. And where are we gonna hear God's voice? You're gonna hear God's voice in God's Word.

So you've gotta open the book and listen. The story goes on to say that while he was in the cave, there was a mighty earthquake. But then it says, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And there was a wind, but the Lord was not in the wind. And then he heard a still, small voice. Sometimes we're looking for God in the big events in life, big events in life, and we should, but sometimes he's speaking to us quietly.

So we need to be quiet. You know, Johnny Cash had a similar event in his life when he was at the peak of his fame. He found himself addicted to amphetamines and barbiturates. He used amphetamines to keep going on the road. Then he used barbiturates to get to sleep at night.

And he began to isolate himself from friends and family. And he said, I never wanted to see another dawn. So he went to a place on the Tennessee River known as the Nickajack Cave. It was a series of caves somewhere larger than two or three football stadiums that just went on and on and on.

And people were known to go in those caves and never come out again because they'd get lost, disoriented, and they would die. Johnny was kind of hoping that would happen to him. So he went deep into that cave where it was pitch darkness. And then he said that lack of light was appropriate for at that moment I was as far from God as I had ever been. And Johnny said when he was in the darkness of that cave, not even wanting to live another day, the Lord spoke to him and said, what are you doing here? Just like Elijah, right? It was there that Johnny Cash made a recommitment to Christ. And he said of the experience, God saved me from killing myself. Maybe you find yourself in a cave of sorts right now. Not a literal cave, but a cave nonetheless. You're despondent, you're isolated, you're hurting, you're deeply depressed.

It just gets worse with each day. And the Lord might say to you, what are you doing here? You don't have to be here. You can get out of this place that you're in right now by turning to me. Listen for that still small voice.

You know Jesus could have said that to Peter when he was warming himself for the enemy's fire. About to betray the Lord for the third time and deny his name. Like what are you doing here, dude?

Why? You know we get ourselves in crazy places and we don't know why things are going so badly. What are you doing there?

Did you have to go there? You know you struggle. I struggle with drinking. I'm an alcoholic and when I was at the bar the other night, wait what? What are you doing there? Well I don't know why I make these bad decisions.

I hang around with all these people and we're partying away. What are you doing there? Why weren't you at church?

See we make bad decisions then we reap the consequences of them and we wonder why things are going the way that they're going. God says what are you doing here? Come out of that cave. Oh God can help you but you need to get up and say I don't want to be here anymore.

You know there was that man that Jesus healed and he said do you want to be made whole? So I'd ask you do you want to get out of the mess you're in? Do you want to get out of the cave you find yourself in?

Do you want to get out of the misery you find yourself in? Then turn to Jesus Christ. He's the answer. He's the one who can save you and forgive you. Now listen if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life.

If you want him to forgive you of your sin. If you want to know that you'll go to heaven when you die I want you to pray this prayer after me. You could even pray it out loud if you like.

Just pray these words. Lord Jesus I know I'm a sinner but I know you're the Savior. I turn from my sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. And Father I know that there are some of us that maybe find ourselves in a cave we've placed ourselves into and we need to come out of that place. We need to recommit ourselves to you again and I'm going to pray a prayer for anyone that needs to make that recommitment to Jesus for you to pray as well. You could just pray Lord Jesus I need to repair my altar. I need to get back to those things you've called me to.

I need to return to my first love. So Lord hear my prayer. I recommit myself to you now. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie praying with those who are making a change in their relationship with the Lord today. And if you're coming to the Lord for the first time and asking him to forgive your sins and if you've meant those words today as you prayed with Pastor Greg we want you to know your sins have been forgiven and you're now a new child of God. And Pastor Greg would like to send you a special Bible you'll find very helpful. It's called the New Believers Bible with hundreds of helps for those who are new to the faith. We'll be glad to send you the New Believers Bible at no charge when you call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's at 24 7 phone number 1-800-821-3300.

Or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514. Or go online to and click the words know God. Have you contacted us for a copy of Pastor Greg's new book As It Is in Heaven? It's full of great insight on the afterlife and what's waiting for us in eternity. Pastor Greg to what extent do our loved ones in heaven know what's going on with all of us down here on earth? Yeah that's an excellent question. It's one I've studied very carefully because my son Christopher who has been in heaven now for many years, I wonder is he aware of anything that's happening down here on earth?

Now one answer people will give is no. They know nothing about what's going on on earth. I don't think that's completely accurate actually. I do believe that people in heaven are aware of some things happening on earth. Example, Jesus said there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels over one sinner that comes to repentance. That means that when someone comes to Christ on earth there's rejoicing in heaven.

So that shows a heaven-earth connection. Wouldn't it be interesting if maybe we found out that someone we'd shared the gospel with came to Christ after we'd gone on to heaven and there was that victory shot in glory and and we realized that was a result of something we'd done. Also you know there are rewards given out in heaven.

Rewards for faithfulness or rewards for obedience, rewards for resisting temptation. What do you think you're going to have a complete brain wipe when you get to heaven if you're giving a reward in heaven for something you faithfully did on earth? Obviously you remember something about the life before but do people in heaven know what's going on down here?

They may. In the book of Revelation we read of believers who were martyred for their faith and when they get to heaven they say how long O Lord holy and true until you judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth. So these believers are aware of the passing of time because they say how long O Lord. They're aware of people still on earth that have sort of gotten away with this and they're wondering when God's judgment will be meted out to those people. So there are these connections you see. Now I don't know if they're following our every movement. I'm sure they have other things to do like worship the Lord and enjoy all the glories and and treasures and pleasures of heaven.

But having said that I do think there is some connection and they are aware of some things. So I've written about that and a whole lot more in this book called As It Is In Heaven. It's a book that answers your questions about the afterlife. Questions like what is heaven? Where is heaven?

Why is there a heaven? What will I do when I get to heaven? Will I eat in heaven? Will I see people in heaven?

Will we recognize one another in heaven? I deal with this and a whole lot more in this book As It Is In Heaven and I would love to send it to you so you can learn more about your future destination. That is if you put your faith in Jesus Christ and so for your gift of any size this month that you said I will rush you your own copy of As It Is In Heaven so you can learn more about the afterlife that will enable you to live a godly life now.

Yeah that's right and it'll help prepare you to answer questions unbelievers may ask or questions your kids or grandkids ask. So get in touch for the book As It Is In Heaven. We'll send it to thank you for your investment in the work we do here sharing the gospel each and every day.

Our phone number is 1-800-821-3300. You can reach us anytime 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or just go online to and by the way Pastor Greg talks more about what's waiting for us in the afterlife in a new podcast available right now at and on the Harvest Plus app. Look for the title As It Is In Heaven a new podcast at the Harvest Plus app and on other podcast apps. Well next time Pastor Greg presents a warning to those who are faking it in their Christian faith. It's a pivotal study called The Almost Christian. Join us here on a new beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-18 05:22:38 / 2024-01-18 05:32:39 / 10

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