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When Godly People Get Depressed

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2024 9:00 am

When Godly People Get Depressed

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 15, 2024 9:00 am

Depression is stigmatized in a lot of Christian circles. We either avoid the topic entirely, or we talk about it in hushed, shameful tones. We act as if believers are just supposed to be happy-go-lucky all the time.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. The marriage fell apart. Your kids didn't follow Jesus.

The business tanked. And so you find yourself wondering, God, I really thought I could see where all this was going. God, did I do something wrong? God, are you even there?

This is the experience that this passage deals with. It's dealing with, listen to this, godly people getting depressed. Hello and welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Today we're dealing with a serious issue here on the program. You know, the topic of depression is stigmatized in a lot of Christian circles. We act as if believers are just supposed to be happy-go-lucky all the time, and we either ignore it entirely or we talk about depression in hushed, shameful tones. But today on Summit Life, Pastor and author J.D. Greer helps us discover the biblical response to Christians going through depression. It's part of our study of the prophet Elijah called Something Better, and we're picking up the story after Elijah's victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.

Amazing to see that this topic turns up so soon after a huge victory, right? So turn to 1 Kings 19, and let's join Pastor J.D. for a message titled When Godly People Get Depressed. All right, I am not a huge fan of movies that have weird endings that don't really resolve. I realize that some of you would lose respect for me on that, and you're like, oh, but those movies are just so much more realistic, and it's just better art because it's more like life. I realize that, but I don't go to movies to experience life, okay?

I go to movies to take a break from life, and so at the end of the movies I go to, I want the guy and the girl together. I want them riding off in the sunset together, and I want them to, as far as I'm concerned, revel in their victories for the rest of their life, right? Well, see, that's really what ought to happen here in the Elijah story that we have been in because if you remember from last week, if you were here, Elijah has won this huge, huge battle. All of Israel, I mean, this is the climactic moment of his life. He went toe to toe with the current world champions, the prophets of Baal, and he had just a face-off, a showdown with them. His victory was not small. His victory was epic.

God answered decisively with fire from heaven, and at the end the whole crowd is on their faces chanting, Elisha, Elisha, which is his name, Elijah, but also means in Hebrew, the Lord is God. What a moment, right? I mean, you couldn't imagine a better, more poetic moment. That's when the credits roll. That's when the music comes up. He rides off into the sunset.

Confetti falls from the ceiling. I mean, you can't get any better than that. Now he's supposed to retire, revel in his victories, but instead his high on Mount Carmel, you're going to see this, is followed by a spiritual low. Almost you're going to see a kind of depression.

Before we get into looking at his specifically, could we just acknowledge this? Isn't your life like that sometimes? Right after some victory, right after some spiritually epic moments, you fall back into some spiritual low. You stumble back into some old temptation.

Life takes a turn you weren't expecting or something just really goes wrong. It was like that for Jesus. When Jesus, one of the high points in his life was when he was baptized. He's baptized, crowd cheers, voice from heaven booms, this is my beloved son in whom I'm well pleased.

That's a spiritual high. Do you ever read the accounts in Matthew and Luke of Jesus' baptism? And what you see is that immediately the Spirit takes him into the wilderness. In fact, the way it's written is this, then the devil, the devil meets him right after that baptism to be able to take him as low as he can get him.

That's what's going on with Elijah. For many of you, you obey God and you experience some success, but then life took a turn that you weren't expecting. The marriage fell apart and you're like, God, it was going so well. I mean, I made these decisions. I got involved in church, but then it fell apart. Your kids didn't follow Jesus.

The business tanked. And so you find yourself wondering, God, I really thought I could see where all this was going. God, did I do something wrong?

God, are you even there? This is the experience that this passage deals with. It's dealing with, listen to this, godly people getting depressed. And I realize that depression is a loaded word because there are so many different kinds ranging from people who are just really discouraged to those with clinical or chemical issues going on.

And my purpose is not to diagnose the different kinds of depression or to, certainly not to provide one solution to all of them, but I think what you'll see in this passage, you're going to see a lot of things that speak to different dimensions of depression across the spectrum. 1 Kings 19, if you haven't turned in your Bibles there, you can do so now. Last week, we left Elijah. After this stunning victory on Carmel, you remember that he was empowered by the Holy Spirit to run. He outran the horses and the chariots, and he beat everybody back to Jezreel, which was the northern kingdom of Israel's capital at the time. He is expecting, as he goes into Jezreel, he's expecting a revolution. He's expecting the people to rise up in this unified commitment, declaring that the Lord is God. Ahab and Jezebel are either going to repent or they are going to be deposed. He's going to come in, all the people are going to be gathered in a circle in the middle of the city singing Kumbaya or I love you, Lord.

It's just going to be awesome. He's going to get his name on a star and like the street. He's going to get a syndicated TV show, Prodigy Prophet or Elijah's Got Talent.

Maybe that would be it, Drought Dynasty. He's going to get some TV show where he is going to, it's just going to be, I mean, it's going to be epic. That's how it's supposed to end. Every time people see him on the street, they'll be chanting, Eliejah, Eliejah. 1 Kings 19, 2. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, so may the gods, what?

Didn't we just answer that question? So may the gods do to me and more also if I do not kill you by this time tomorrow. No revolution, no deposition. Elijah didn't even get a plaque. Jezebel has not repented nor has she been deposed.

Far from it. She is still on the throne worshiping her gods, barking out orders, ordering his death. He's got to go back into hiding. Verse 3. Then he was afraid and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah and he left his servant there and he went by himself a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree and he asked that he might die saying it is enough, it is enough.

Now, O Lord, take my life for I am no better than my father's. Safe to say Elijah is depressed. He wants to die. What he hoped would happen, what he expected to happen has not happened. He's angry with God. He thought he knew God. He thought he had this figured out.

He thought he could see a clear trajectory but he's just not so sure anymore. Just a few months after Charles Spurgeon became pastor and some epic successes, one of the most successful pastors in history, pastor in London, church group from three or four hundred to several ten thousand people within the space of two or three months, it was so successful that they had to change venues. Eventually, they outgrew every venue they could come to so they had to go to one big arena and as you can imagine, Spurgeon had a lot of detractors. Anytime God tanned us on somebody, that always happens and so Spurgeon got a lot of hate mail, got a lot of public criticism, people saying that he was an egomaniac. They were saying he's a fundamentalist and a cult leader, that no church should ever be that big. He had a lot of threats. Well, one day in the middle of one of his services where there's ten thousand people present in a very packed auditorium, somebody comes in, sits about three quarters of the way back and in the middle part of his sermon, stands up and yells fire.

There was a stampede and as ten thousand people tried to get out of this place thinking there was a fire, seven people died. Spurgeon was devastated. He was devastated. His biographers say that he spiraled into a depression for years that he never quite got over. Never got over. Have you ever felt like this?

You did everything right. God really seemed to come through but then set back. You're like, where did that come from? Verse five, and he lay down and he slept under a broom tree and behold an angel touched him and said to him, arise and eat and he looked and behold there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water and he ate and drank and laid down again and the angel of the Lord came a second time and touched him and said arise and eat for the journey is too great for you and he arose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.

Those were high protein pancakes or you know whatever, power pancakes. Verse nine, and behold the word of the Lord came to him and he said to him, what are you doing here Elijah? He said, I've been very jealous for the Lord the God of hosts for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant. They've thrown down your altars and they've killed your prophets with the sword and I, even I only am left.

They seek my life to take it away. What do you see there in those verses that God is doing? Tim Keller points out that God does three things.

Look at this. Number one, God first sends an angel of rest. Angels in the Bible are always on assignment.

I don't know if you know that. Angels are not just roaming about the earth, you know meandering about, rushing back telling God like hey you and I believe what's going on down here that I saw. Angels are always on assignment. This angel is on an assignment to Elijah sent to take care of him. What does the angel say when he sees Elijah?

What does he say when he sees him despondent like this? Elijah, show some faith. Elijah, get it together man.

Come on. Elijah, here's a John Piper book. Why don't you read this?

Think about suffering for a while. Why don't you do that, huh? Is that what he says?

Nope. What's he do? He touches him.

He makes him some nice hot pancakes and then makes him take a nap and then sends him off to a cabin in the mountains for a little vacay. Number two, God listens. He said, what are you doing here, Elijah? I mean you realize that whenever God asks a question, he's not seeking information, right?

God already knows the answer to that question. He knows why he's there. He's asking him for his sake and then he just listens. Did you catch the detail in verse two that Elijah had sent his servant or you could read that apprentice or really his traveling companion.

He left him a day's journey away. You know that when you go through a time of despondency, you want to be by yourself. Do not follow that impulse. David Pauluson, Christian counselor says, things that grow in a secret garden always grow mutants. I know you feel like being alone.

That is the worst possible thing. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. To learn more about this ministry, visit jdgreer.com anytime. We'll get back to today's teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to make sure that you knew you can find Pastor JD on YouTube. I don't know about you, but it seems like YouTube is quickly becoming the number one choice for media in my house.

And as you know, that can be for better or for worse. There's just so much to watch, but thankfully it includes solid biblical teaching from Pastor JD Greer as well. When you actually subscribe to his channel, j.d.greer, you'll automatically be notified when we post new episodes of the Ask the Pastor podcast and Summit Life TV so you can watch along as Pastor JD preaches. We're always posting new YouTube shorts to give you bite-sized gospel-centered content throughout your week. And once again, subscribe to Pastor JD's YouTube channel by searching for j.d.greer. Get on board.

We can't wait to have you join us over there. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD. Number three, God gives his word. God gives his word to Elijah. He's going to address some lapses of faith. He's going to try to broaden his perspective a little. We'll get into that word in just a minute. But first, let me point out that you've got three different approaches to dealing with depression in those verses.

He ministers to Elijah physically with the touch, with the food, and with the nap, spiritually by dealing with his wrong view of God, and psychologically by listening to him. You see, depending on your worldview, you probably gravitate toward one of those three. You see it all over our culture. Some people think that humanity is primarily physical, so if you're going through a tough time, you just got to figure out how to get some vacation, how to cut the sources of stress out of your life. Take a pill, right, because it's mostly physical. Other people are on the other side, and they think, no, no, we're mostly spiritual. So these people, it's like you need some prayer. You need some faith. You need to stop sinning.

You need to get over it. These people think the idea of taking a pill or identifying physical causes to your depression is essentially to betray the faith. The third group views depression as primarily psychological.

G's got to talk it out, get some friends around you, you know, just get it out there. It's got to vent, right? God uses all three because he designed us in all three ways. We are what we call a psychosomatic being. We say body, soul, unite. You're not a soul without a body. You're not a body without a soul. You're not a soul floating around inside of a body, bouncing around like the ghost in the machine.

You are a soul united to a body, a soul clothed with a body, and you can't really separate the soul from the body in that sense, which means that a lot of times, listen, you've never heard a pastor say this, ever. You don't need prayer or a sermon. You need a nap.

In fact, maybe that's your action point from this sermon. Go home and take a nap. I'd appreciate you not applying it right now, okay? I can see a couple guys in the back.

They're already applying the sermon. Not now, okay? You need a vacation. You need to be touched.

You need a weekend away with your spouse. You need to read a good book. And I don't mean like a book on like how not to be despondent, right? I mean like fiction, if that's your thing. Historical fiction, if you're like me. If you're like Amish love romance novels, then get one of them, all right?

Whatever, whatever. One of my historical heroes is Winston Churchill. And Churchill, they say that he had three hobbies that throughout his life he always practiced. He loved to read novels. He loved to watch movies. And he loved to paint. And they say that even at the the highest, hottest days of World War II, when he was most stressed, he would take two hours every evening to do one of those things.

Why? Because he was he was taking care of himself physically so he would have the strength to lead the nation, right? So sometimes you just need to take time to take care of yourself physically. He ministers to Elijah psychologically by allowing Elijah to talk out his feelings. He's a friend to him. The Psalms are filled with people venting to God. Being godly does not mean pretending your emotions aren't there. Sure, I mean sure, some of your emotions need to be corrected. Not every emotion is legitimate, but you can't correct the source of the emotion if you don't get it out there. Our emotions are not usually good or bad.

They're simply indicators of what's going on inside of you. It's like a it's like a fire alarm in your house. The fire alarm goes off. The problem is not the fire alarm.

The problem is what made the fire alarm go off, right? So your emotions are simply indicating what's going on inside of you. It's not that you need to contain the emotion, it's you need to figure out where the source of the emotion is coming from.

So sometimes you have to express the emotion to be able to help identify what's going on in your heart and if need be to correct some of those things. So get a journal and write out your feelings like David did. When you read the Psalms, essentially you're reading David's prayer journal.

Have you ever worked your way through these? I mean, some of them are not, you know, the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want kind of things. They're like, oh, you're allowed to say that to God? I don't think you're allowed to say that to God.

I mean, they're pretty salty, some of them, right? So get some people around you. Some of you, like Elijah, have left your friend behind. You are isolated. Terrible mistake.

Terrible mistake. He benisters Elijah spiritually by giving him his word. Now, I can't diagnose which one of these is primarily your problem. Usually, not always, it's a combination of these things. What I'm going to say from here on out applies mostly to spiritually based depressions and discouragement. But let me just challenge you, even if you don't think that your depression is spiritual, even if you don't think that the person you're thinking about right now, their depression is spiritual, let me challenge you to listen anyway because chances are there's a lot more spiritual things tied up in your emotions than you tend to realize. Okay, so let's look at what God says to Elijah.

Let me show you this. The biblical counseling coalition put out a chart recently called the development of spiritually rooted depressions. And what you'll see is you've got kind of four stages that you're working your way down. The first one is disappointment. Disappointment, that's where you've got confusion, sadness, grief, unfulfilled expectations. That's what's going on with Elijah, right? Unfulfilled expectations.

I thought things would be different. God didn't come through. That leads to discontentment. Discontentment, which produces self-righteousness. Self-pity, that's where Elijah is.

I'm the only one. You're not taking care of me. Brooding. By the way, self-righteousness. Have you experienced that before where you really get disappointed and your reaction is to start to justify why you're actually a lot better than everybody else? So for example, you don't get the job. So what you start doing is thinking, the guy that did get the job, he's a terrible husband. I'm a great husband.

I may not have gotten that job, but I'm a better person all around than he is. That ever happen to you? That's a sign that you have moved from disappointment to discontentment, brooding, anger, bitter. You think about it all the time, and it poisons your emotions toward other people.

You're jealous. You fantasize about their destruction. That leads to number three, despair. You see no way out. You, watch this, start to give up on responsibilities. You get very lethargic. Sometimes you can't even get out of bed. You have trouble working through the day.

You have trouble being a good mom, being a good dad. You just start to give up on your responsibilities. That leads to stage four, destructiveness, where in some cases you become suicidal or homicidal. The early signs of that are a very critical spirit. Hostility toward people. Impulsivity.

You see yourself anywhere in that chart? Here's what God's word is to the discouraged. Here it is. Here's what he says to Elijah, verse 11. And God said, go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.

That's a command, right? Watch this. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces 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. And after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, the sound of a low whisper or a still small voice, verse 13, and when Elijah heard the still small voice, he wrapped his face in the cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. All right? That's a very important detail I'll get back to. And behold, then there came a voice to him and said, what are you doing here, Elijah?

All right, so what's this about? Well, it's a very important detail that you got to understand to unpack this passage that you might have skipped over, unless you're a Bible scholar. Mount Horeb. Do you know another name for Mount Horeb? What's Mount Horeb's other name? Mount Sinai. Mount Horeb is Mount Sinai. Do you remember what happened to Mount Sinai? That's where God gave the Ten Commandments. It was one of the most dramatic moments in Israel's history where God descended on that same mountain.

And when God descended on that same mountain to Moses, what did it look like? Fire. Wind.

Earthquake. And God, in Moses's case, was in the fire. Remember the burning bush? He was in the wind. He was in the earthquake.

Those things were the presence of God. And now, with Elijah, those same things happen, but it specifically says God was not in the fire. God was not in the fire. God was not in the earthquake. God was not in the tornado. So what is the meaning of that?

Here it is. God's voice in our lives does not always come in the ways we expect Him to. But that does not mean that God is not speaking. Just because God is not working like you expected Him to work does not mean that He is not at work.

That's the point that He's trying to make. Hey, with Moses, I was in the fire. You were thinking that when I showed up in your situation, I'd come with the same kind of things. You thought that there would be this epic revolution, but there wasn't.

And you assumed that that meant that I'm not working, but you are wrong. The verse is 15 through 18. Look at it. You'll see what God says He's doing. He's raising up a pagan king named Hazael who's going to bring judgment on Ahab and his wicked witch of the west wife Jezebel.

God's doing it behind the scenes. Oh, and by the way, God's got 7,000 other people in Israel who have not bowed the knee to Baal that Elijah seems to be totally ignorant of. Elijah, you see, had put God in a box just like we do. He expected that God only works one way, and when God didn't work that one way that he expected, then he assumed that God is not there.

You may want to write this down. Elijah thinks that God has let him down, but God has not let Elijah down. Elijah's limited view of God and how God works has let Elijah down. As Evelyn Underhill said, if God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped.

An important perspective to remember as we tackle issues like this every day. You're listening to Pastor JD Greer and Summit Life. So Pastor JD, in this series, we've been seeing how God revealed Himself to Elijah and how as Elijah's view of God expanded, he learned to trust God more. And that's the focus of our new scripture guide that we're offering this month, right?

Absolutely, Molly. Knowing God for who He really is, that changes everything about how we see ourselves. I think of the words here of A.W. Tozer, which I feel like I've been quoting a lot recently, but what a man thinks about God is the most important thing, the most defining thing about Him. After you have come to know God, expanding your view of just who He is and how He feels about you, how He feels about the world, the more you understand Him, the more your life changes. That's one of the reasons we provided this workbook to go along with this, because we're not just trying to imitate Elijah and Elisha.

We're trying to know the God that they knew so that we can experience the kind of transforming power in our lives that they experienced in theirs and have the same transforming effect on our generation that they had. I think this study will really help you go deeper into the stories of Elijah and Elisha and in your own life and discover more of what God wants to do in and through you. We'd love to get you a copy of this resource today to thank you for your generous support of the work we're doing here at Summit Life. Your gift helps keep these messages on the air and web free of charge for those searching for God. Ask for Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6 when you donate at the suggested level of $35 or more. Call 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220, or it might be easier to give online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vinovitch, and I'm so glad you joined us today. Be sure to tune in again tomorrow when we continue this message on the biblical response to depression. That's Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-15 10:12:21 / 2024-05-15 10:23:04 / 11

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