What to do when you feel down

Having spoken several times over the phone to an old friend whose recent bereavement has sent her emotions on an unwelcome roller coaster ride, I found a two-part article in my wife’s UCB Radio’s ‘Word For Today’ notes for Wednesday and Thursday, March 2nd and 3rd 2022. I offer them in full as a borrowed blog.

The Scripture reference of James 5:17 CEV assures us that ‘Elijah was . . . as human as we are.’ Elijah got so ‘down’ that he was ready to end it all. And it happened on the heels of his greatest victory. He had just called down fire from heaven on Mount Carmel, when he went from exhilaration to exhaustion. We forget that even when we’re successful and love what we do, it can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. So, if you’re a purpose-driven person with no boundaries, pay attention!

  1. Exhaustion made Elijah lose perspective.

He had just defeated 850 false prophets (see 1 Kings 18:19), and now he was running from one woman: Jezebel. General George Patton Jr. said, ‘Fatigue makes cowards of us all.’ When fatigue walks in, faith walks out! It distorts our thinking and makes us overlook God’s power and his promises. Mental fatigue coupled with physical exhaustion is a deadly combination that invites hopelessness and creates the illusion that we have no options.

  1. Fear made Elijah isolate himself.

Leaving his servant in Beersheba, he went into the wilderness and told God, ‘I am the only one left . . . now they are trying to kill me’ (1 Kings 19:10 NIV). At that moment, Elijah was in the worst possible company – his own! When you feel down you need to reach for God and the people who love you and can help you get back up. Even Paul needed help. After writing, ‘[In] Macedonia, we . . . found trouble all around us . . . fighting on the outside and fear on the inside,’ he added, ‘But God, who comforts those who are troubled, comforted us when Titus came’ (2 Corinthians 7:5-6 NCV). So, who do you need to call? Who do you need to reach for? Don’t keep putting it off – do it!

When Elijah was at his lowest point, God told him these three important things:

(1) Spend more time with God.

‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord’ (1 Kings 19:11 NKJV). That was where God spoke to him ‘in a still small voice’ (v. 12 NKJV). The word ‘still’ teaches us that instead of always working for God, we need to spend time with him. If you don’t, you will run on empty, and get nowhere. When David was feeling down, he wrote: ‘Many are saying . . . “God won’t rescue him”. But, Lord, you are my shield, my wonderful God who gives me courage. I will pray to the Lord and he will answer me’ (Psalm 3:2-4 NCV).

(2) Stop trying to do it all yourself.

That’s the fast route to depression. Leadership isn’t just about getting the job done; it’s about developing others and getting it done through them. Elijah wasn’t alone. God told him, ‘I have reserved seven thousand in Israel . . . whose knees have not bowed to Baal’ (1 Kings 19:18 NKJV). Don’t just operate – learn to cooperate!

(3) Realise your assignment isn’t over.

God showed Elijah there were still kings to anoint, battles to win God will send a successor, so be prepared (see v. 16). Need a reason to get out of bed in the morning? God will give you one! When you’re ‘down’, he doesn’t get mad at you. On the contrary, his word says, ‘He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. He will encourage the fainthearted, those tempted to despair’ (Isaiah 42:3 TLB). That’s the loving-kindness of God!

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