Overcome the Blues

PastorsBible

Overcome the Blues

Elijah, an aristocrat of faith, was down in the dumps. He was tired and lonely, discouraged and depressed. He had a case of the blues. He who had waved the palm of victory on Mount Carmel, now sat beneath a juniper tree sipping from the cup of despondency. Listen to the stalwart of the faith: “It is enough for me, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

Recall the situation. The children of Israel, under the domination of Queen Jezebel had embraced the worship of Baal. God had punished them by sending a great drought. At last God proposed to end the drought but not without a mighty demonstration of His power over the false god. This was done by a confrontation on Mount Carmel between Elijah, the prophet of God and 450 prophets of Baal. There Elijah challenged them to a contest.

Each side was to construct an altar, place a sacrificial offering upon it but no fire. Elijah proposed that he would call upon the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and they would call upon Baal, and the God who answered with fire to consume the sacrifice, “Let Him be God of Israel.” It was agreed to.

The prophets of Baal erected their altar and all morning prayed to Baal, but no fire came. “Maybe he is asleep,” taunted Elijah, “why don’t you shout a little louder.” But it was all in vain; it didn’t work; no fire came. Then Elijah constructed an altar, dug a trench about it, and ordered that it be drenched with water. Then Elijah prayed. In response God sent fire to consume the sacrifice, the altar and even the water. Then the people acknowledged that the “Lord, He is God.”

But this victory was short lived. When Queen Jezebel, the chief proponent of Baalism, and the patron of the prophets of Baal, heard what had happened, to put it mildly, she threw a fit. She sent a messenger to Elijah saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Great fear lay ahold of Elijah. He ran for his life. He fled to the southernmost city of the Kingdom, Beersheba. There he left his servant and went a day’s journey into the wilderness, sat beneath a juniper tree and prayed that God would take away his life for he was not better than his fathers. The victor had become the victim. The moment of truth had been transformed into the tragedy of despair. Joyful Sunday had become blue Monday. Depression had overcome him like a dark cloud.

God was aware of all that had happened to His servant. “Whiter shall I go from Thy Spirit?” whiter shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou are there. If I make my bed in the hell of despondency, Thou are there.” So, in loving kindness God came to Elijah and ministered to him with healing power.

First, God ministered to the physical needs of His servant. “As he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold an angel of the Lord touched him and said unto him, “Arise and eat.” Previously Elijah’s depressed state of mind was due in part to a depressed physical condition.

The body exerts a strange power over the mind. “Just as the mercury rises and falls according to the temperatures of the weather; just as the surface of the earth is not level but rises at some points into mountains and falls away at others into valleys; just as the tides ebb and flow … so there are ups and downs in the weather and topography of the mind. The mind more quickly descends into the valley of depression when the body cries out for food and rest.”

Part of the cure for the blues lies in keeping one’s self physically fit. A proper and regular amount of relaxed sleep and a proper diet will do wonders for one’s mental climate. One wrote, “Take a cue from Elijah. When your husband mopes around the house, with the corners of his mouth set at twenty minutes after eight, and covers the whole atmosphere with blue-indigo, give him a good lunch and send him out for a good game of golf. And then, when you need it for yourself, have the good sense to make the same diagnosis and take the same prescription.”

Second, God ministered to the emotional needs of Elijah, depression is an emotional problem. Emotional problems are normally caused by improper thought patterns. If we think of a sad situation, we will feel sad. If we think of an angering experience, we will fell angry. This is so regardless of the truth or the reality of the thought. Emotions are only responders. They have no intellect or intelligence of their own. They merely respond to or react against whatever we are putting into our minds. “As a man thinks … so is he.”

Elijah thought only of the debit side of the ledger. He had shut the sunlight out of his mind. He saw only the thorns and none of the roses. Listen to his complaint, “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down the altars, and slain the prophets by the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life to take it away. Elijah felt sorry for God. His cause is losing out. Victory is slipping from his grasp. Poor, God, He has none left to fight His battles but me.

“Would I were dead if God’s good will were so,

For what is this world but grief and woe?”

God gave Elijah something else to think about. He said, “Go forth and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” Elijah did and there was a storm with wind, lightening and finally an earthquake. These phenomena of nature reminded Elijah of his own frailty and weakness in contrast to the mighty power of God. They helped him to understand that God was not completely dependent upon Elijah. The final victory was in God’s hands, not that of Elijah. Then God spoke to Elijah and said, “I have seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed their knee to Baal, nor implanted the kiss of loyalty upon an idol made with hands.” That number is symbolic. The number seven in Hebrew numerology is the number of perfection. In effect God said to Elijah, “I have sufficient resources to turn the tide of paganism. The time has come for you to eliminate negativity from your thoughts and accentuate the positive. Stop looking at the debit side and concentrate upon the credits. Stop thinking about the difficulties and look at the dividends.

One tells this story about a man who had lived on the same farm all his life. He had grown tired of it. Nothing about the place suited him. He listed the farm with a real estate agent. The agent prepared and shared with his clients a sales advertisement for the newspaper. He told of the farms ideal location, it’s up to date equipment, its fertile acres, its well-bred livestock. “Wait a minute,” said the farmer, “read that again and take it slow.” When the salesman had finished, the farmer exclaimed, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going to sell. I’ve been looking for a place like that all my life.” It does matter what you think. You do control your emotions.

My mother had the good habit of singing around the house. One chorus she often sang was, “Count your blessing, one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” Learn to do this and the shadow of mental depression will be absorbed by the sunlight of Him who “has done exceedingly, abundantly for us, above that which we ask or think.”

God did a third thing for Elijah. He gave him something to do. He commanded him to go to Syria and anoint Hazael to be King of Syria, then to anoint Jehu to be King of Israel, and finally to anoint Elisha to be his successor. Elijah arose and obeyed the Lord. His momentary trip to the valley of despair ended upon the mountain top of renewed service.

I saw this upon the wall of a home where I was visiting: “Somewhere under the stars there is a work waiting for you that no one else in the world can do.” The Chinese have this proverb: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” The very act of lighting the candle will drive the darkness of despondency away. A part of the answer to emotional depression is to become a V. I. P. – a very involved person.

God ministered to the physical needs of his saint. Get up, arise and eat. God caused Elijah to lie down in green pastures, beside still waters. He restored his physical life. He ministered to his emotional needs: Look up and live. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. Where does my help come from. My help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth.” Finally God ministered to his servant’s volitional needs: Link up with me … Serve. Go gladly to the task assigned to you.

What a prescription for overcoming the blues. I will be physically strong. I will be mentally alert. I well be a Very Involved Person. What a prescription for all of life.

Dr. Robert W Kirkpatrick

North Wilkesboro Presbyterian Church, February 7, 1982

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Gabrielle
    Jul 17, 2017 @ 19:32:03

    I bow down humbly in the presence of such greesnats.

    Like

    Reply

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