• Matt Beaney

#516 (3/1/21) SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION

Updated: Jan 4


On Sunday, we saw how Elijah, a great man of God, got so spiritually depressed that he didn’t want to go on living! This is included in the Bible so as to encourage us as we, and most of us do to different degrees, go through such dark times.


Elijah had just had an amazing, miraculous victory. He had seen fire fall from heaven and had defeated the prophets of Baal. He should be on top of the world. Instead, Elijah was in despair. We read,

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.’ (1 Kings 19:1-5)

In the New Testament, Paul had wrote of his similar experience,

‘We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.’ (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

Elijah, after his experiences of famine, spiritual conflict and victory, is tired and susceptible to depression. Likewise, Paul, whilst working hard to take the gospel to new and challenging locations, had bouts of similar darkness. In his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ John Mark Comer speaks of 10 symptoms of 'hurry'. Here they are in brief,

1. Irritability—You get mad, frustrated, or just annoyed way too easily.
2. Hypersensitivity—All it takes is a minor comment to hurt your feelings,
3. Restlessness—When you actually do try to slow down and rest, you can’t relax.
4. Workaholism (or just nonstop activity)—You just don’t know when to stop. Or worse, you can’t stop.
5. Emotional numbness—You just don’t have the capacity to feel another’s pain. Or your own pain for that matter.
6. Out-of-order priorities—You feel disconnected from your identity and calling.
7. Lack of care for your body—You don’t have time for the basics: eight hours of sleep a night; daily exercise…
8. Escapist behaviours—When we’re too tired to do what’s actually life giving for our souls, we each turn to our distraction of choice: overeating, overdrinking, binge-watching Netflix…
9. Slippage of spiritual disciplines—…when you get overbusy, the things that are truly life giving for your soul are the first to go rather than your first go to—such as a quiet time in the morning, Scripture, prayer, Sabbath, worship on Sunday, a meal with your community…
10. Isolation—You feel disconnected from God, others, and your own soul…

These are normal temptations, however, when we are spiritually depressed, these seem to be the new normal. We’re angry with people, critical, and feel unloved. We want to run away. It’s so important that at such times, we don’t make big life-changing plans! Too many, after this Covid challenge, when, I believe, spiritual depression is rife, will be tempted to make rushed and unwise life-changing decisions. Let’s ensure that we act in faith and not out of escapist or ungodly drives.


Today, let’s just recognise that spiritual depression exists. Recognise our own susceptibility. Look out for the people that the Father wants you to help at this time.


OVER TO YOU - PRAY AND WORSHIP OUT OF THE BIBLE

I’ve made a few comments. However, it’s more important that you engage with the text yourself. Take a moment to pray and listen to God’s voice out of today’s text.

'Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us...' (2 Corinthians 1:9-10)

I find it helpful to use the following questions which are based upon The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13).


1. Praise - What does this text teach me about God? What can I praise Him for?

2. Petitions - What does this teach me about His will for me and others? What could I pray for from this text? This is a good time to pray for our non-believing. friends. It’s good to ask, Is the Holy Spirit leading me in any specific response?

3. Peace-making - Is the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin for which I need forgiveness? Do I need to forgive others?

4. Protection - Ask for God’s protection generally and for any specific areas of vulnerability. Am I believing lies regarding the truths in this text?

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Important - this Sunday, our service is both live in the building and on Zoom from 10:30. Please go to the website for the Zoom link.

 

2. Icebreaker

What have been your high's and low's over the last few weeks?

Secondly, do you have anything encouraging to share on how God spoken to you from the Bible recently?

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


On Sunday, we saw how Elijah, a great man of God, got so spiritually depressed that he didn’t want to go on living! This is included in the Bible so as to encourage us as we, and most of us do to different degrees, go through such dark times.


Elijah had just had an amazing, miraculous victory. He had seen fire fall from heaven and had defeated the prophets of Baal. He should be on top of the world. Instead, Elijah was in despair. We read,

‘Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.’ (1 Kings 19:1-5)

God wants to renew and revive us. Elijah is illustrative of this. We read,

‘Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.’ (1 Kings 19:5-8)

MEAN S OF SPIRITUAL RENEWAL

God keeps and renews us from spiritual depression in many ways. Here are some examples:

i) Eat and drink what is good - Do we eat and drink in ways that promote health?

ii) Eat and drink spiritually - Elijah's story of illustrative of how we need to feed on Jesus by the word and prayer. He tell us,

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35)

iii) Rest - Sleep and rest are God's gifts for our physical and spiritual health.

iv) Resting in Christ (resting in grace) - Knowing that our salvation (justification) is a gift through faith alone. Knowing that our fruitfulness rests on the Spirit rather than our overworking.

v) Friendship - We need friends who will strengthen us in God. Christopher Ash in his book, ‘Zeal Without Burnout’ wrote about this,

‘One of the best things I did during my year of nervous exhaustion was to restart a prayer triplet with two other men. I should have done this years before, but somehow it had been postponed until the crisis came.’

Discussion questions

i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii) Out of 10 (0 being really bad) how spiritually excited are you and what are the reasons for your answer?

iii) Out of the 5 means of spiritual renewal that I've included above, what do you most need to work on and how could you do that?







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