I was saddened to read that Jarrid Wilson took his own life Monday evening. He was only 30 years old and a gifted teacher and preacher at Harvest Christian Fellowship Church in Riverside, California. He had struggled with and written about depression and mental health issues. Depression and suicidal thoughts are not foreign to central characters in the bible. When we believe in Jesus all our problems don’t just disappear. But there are some common triggers that we have been looking at through some characters in the Old Testament. We’ve seen that Jonah wanted to die because he had anger issues with Assyria. Moses wanted to die because he assuming unrealistic amount of responsibility and expectations.
This week we come to Elijah who was driven to say “just kill me now” because he lost his perspective and focused only on defeats and threats, forgetting all God had done in the past.
In spite of his epic victory over the false prophets of Baal, Elijah is exhausted and on the run. He finds himself so depressed and alone that he wanted to die. He took the fast track from victory to depression - that’s quite a shift, what happened?
1 Kings 19 1 Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the (false/Baal) prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 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 my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”
Now, when Elijah said “take my life…” he was not starting to sing that hymn by Frances Ridley Havergal “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee…” - no, he was saying take my life and kill me - which is an entirely different sounding song, and it’s one that most of us have started to sing at some dark point in our lives. Fear not, there is hope.
When Jezebel threatens Elijah’s life it’s a serious issue. She had recently killed the Lord’s prophets (18;4, 13) so he is in real danger and that’s why he’s afraid and on the run. Verse three is where the wheels fall off – he panics and runs! The word of the Lord had not told him to flee. Jezebel is in the north – he runs south – 120 miles south. That’s some fear! The formidable threat of Jezebel’s resistance and active pursuit of him caused Elijah to panic – he forgot to view his situation through a spiritual lens and only saw the threats through an earthy lens. But wait - hadn’t God just achieved an insanely impressive victory?
Anytime we shift from viewing our situation through a spiritual view to an earthly view we are in trouble.
That’s what Paul is getting at in 2 Corinthians 4
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
His life is threatened. He is alone (or at least he feels that way). He is running for his life into the wilderness. Plus, he’s exhausted which always makes it harder to think straight. One of my seminary profs once said sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap. Some of you should probably just close this down now and go to sleep! 😊
Four lessons emerge:
What we focus on, what we remember about our past has a profound impact on how we see our present. Don’t forget what God has done in the past. Journaling our victories is a smart tactic.
Our enemy does not give up ground easily. Three steps forward, two steps back kind of deal. Anticipating conflict and opposition when making spiritual gains is a smart tactic.
Don’t go it alone. We are prone to discouragement, warped view of ourselves and our problems when we are alone. Making intentional steps to include yourself in community is a smart tactic.
Get some rest! Yup – a smart tactic.
Next week we’ll look at Job and the context of his dark depression.
Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today, John