During my journey of recovery from depression, I would often reflect on the story of Elijah written in the book of 1 Kings. Here we read the how this great man of God was running away to hide from Jezebel:
“ But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (see 19: 3-5)
It is clear from the context that Elijah was exhausted – mentally and physically. I believe he had not been eating or resting, that he was running on a spiritual high (sound familiar?)
Elijah had great victories, revived a widow’s son, called down fire from heaven and then finds himself running scared from a girl! This irrational response is not too dissimilar to the first signs of depression, as his body was exhausted so to his mind became irrational, ‘Lord take my life’ is suicidal thinking!. He had already stood against greater odds than one woman and yet he was fearful and perceived the threat irrationally.
How did God respond to Elijah? He cared for his natural needs: “Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.” (see 1 Kings 19:5-8)
The primary need that the Lord saw was the need for the body to recover strength: to sleep, to eat, to drink. Elijah had a nature – a human nature, just like our own. Therefore, if exhaustion and lack of nutrition can cause Elijah to have a flat day, then it can happen to us because we have the same nature, a human nature that requires adequate rest and nourishment.
When our body is depleted, our soul will follow with irrational thoughts, anger, irritability, insomnia etc., and of course depression which, by consequence, we will feel spiritually depleted. The same connection is true in a vice versa situation, for example what we allow our thought life to meditate on will determine our emotional condition and ultimately affect our physical bodies. Randy Clark writes; “When our will reflects His, our emotions receive the best medicine possible. An alignment takes place that gives permission for the body to experience health. A healthy spirit makes for a healthy soul. A healthy soul makes it much more likely that we will enjoy physical health too.” ”. (The Essential Guide to Healing pg, 179)
Often, we fail to recognise a ‘misalignment’ between our body, soul and spirit, as life gets busier we can fall into the trap of neglecting our physical needs, as Elijah did, we fall into an emotional demise and then find ourselves asking ‘how did I get here’? Today, take a moment to consider areas that are misaligned in your life… maybe it’s a check on your thoughts? What are you meditating on? How’s your nutrition? Do you have healthy boundaries in place with regards to negative influences? Self care is not selfish… it is essential, so, like Elijah, you may go ” in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights…” x
November 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm
there is beauty in rest and serenity, right?
November 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm
I absolutely love this! Sometimes we get so caught up in distractions of life and wrong thinking we don’t even realize how misaligned we are with God’s truth about us until we find ourselves struggling and in need of His help. Really insightful post. Thank you!
November 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm
Beautifully said and just what this Elijah needed to hear from my ‘little sister’. Thank you for ministering to me through her, dear Lord.
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November 13, 2013 at 8:32 pm
Thanks for the reminder. Our mental health relies heavily on our physical and spiritual health and vice versa. As a mum I can neglect my physical health and this has a negative affect on my ability to be a mother.
November 14, 2013 at 9:52 am
Hi Cheryl. I totally understand… neglecting my physical health played a major role in my slide into depression. Self-care is essential – not selfish, being fit & healthy means your kids get the very best of you as their mum. Mum that is filled with energy, contentment & delight. Bless ya x
November 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm
The Lord has brought me to this same passage more than once during some of my darker days. I love how God manifests his tender love and care by attending to Elijah’s immediate, physical needs.