Biblical Encouragement

Hope for Depression from Elijah’s Story

Woman suffering from depression
Image credit: Proxima Studio / Shutterstock.com

Elijah was a courageous and faith-filled prophet who got so burned out that he became suicidal. Even great prophets of God can experience feelings of despair and hopelessness over their circumstances, just like us. In fact, Elijah’s story can help us find hope for depression in so many ways.

As always, friend, if you’re dealing with depression that interferes with your life I want to encourage you to PLEASE SEEK PROFESSIONAL CARE. You can also talk with someone in confidence for free 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

There’s no blame or shame in reaching out for the help you need!

That said, I love how God’s Word can help all of us cope with and thrive even with hard stuff. Here’s a peek into one of Elijah’s lowest moments:

How did a great prophet of God get to such a state of despair and depression? The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly, but maybe that’s part of the point. A sense of hopelessness and depression can hit any one of us. Sometimes, when we least expect it.

ELIJAH’S STORY

Elijah’s main job in life was to call the Israelites out of the darkness of idol worship and back to worshipping the One true God. He experienced spectacular spiritual victory when he called for a showdown at Mt. Carmel between the false gods of the Canaanites and the God of Israel.

But then his nemesis, the ultimate idol worshipper, Queen Jezebel, is so enraged she threatens to kill him. This is where we find Elijah running alone into the wilderness and praying to die. Maybe he didn’t want Jezebel to kill him, but he sure didn’t want to stick around for his discouraging life anymore.

HOW ELIJAH’S STORY PROVIDES HOPE FOR DEPRESSION

Sometimes, we can learn so much from others’ mistakes.

When God asked Elijah what he was doing so far from home, Elijah responded with a story about his circumstances that shows us a lot about how he viewed things:

The story Elijah tells God about his situation is certainly true. Jezebel had sent men to kill him, and although there were other prophets left in Israel at this time, they were in hiding and not performing duties as prophets. And many in Israel had been brazenly unfaithful in worshipping other gods.

The biggest surprise about Elijah’s response, though, is that he completely leaves God out of the story!

He thinks he’s so alone and doesn’t even mention that God’s presence is with him every step of the way (Matthew 28:20).

He doesn’t seem to realize that God has a good plan, even though God always has one (Jeremiah 29:11).

He doesn’t take into account the fact that God always provides for his people (Philippians 4:19).

Elijah doesn’t even bother to throw in a few faith-filled words!

In fact, he gives the exact same account of the story to God twice without ever mentioning anything about the hope we can have because of God’s presence in our circumstances.

Have you ever found yourself stuck on your own hopeless version of your story, friend? I know I have!

HONESTY IS GOOD BUT…

It’s good to be honest about how we feel and what we really think when facing hard things. Pouring our hearts out to God and sharing with trusted friends is certainly a positive thing.

It’s just that one of my biggest temptations when faced with difficult circumstances is to get caught up in my own head. I get stuck on my version of things and lose perspective just like Elijah did!

You too?

When we rehearse our problems in our own minds, with others, and even when talking to God, we sometimes leave God out of the picture completely. Our hopeless versions of our stories repeated often enough can lead us to despair and reinforce any existing depression we might have.

What kind of stories are you telling about your circumstances to yourself and to others, friend?

INCLUDING GOD IN YOUR STORY PROVIDES HOPE FOR DEPRESSION

Are you facing hard circumstances? Let me gently remind all of us to ask God to help us to truly include him in the stories we tell ourselves and others. His presence can make all the difference, and we must remind ourselves of that.

When Elijah encountered the living God, his despair and depression lifted. God did, in fact, have a plan, and he lovingly provided for Elijah in so many ways. I want to share more about that in future posts, but for now, let’s just say that God’s presence in Elijah’s seemingly hopeless circumstances changed everything. His spirit was renewed and he went on to have a fruitful ministry for many years after that incident.

God took a burned-out suicidal prophet and restored him, and He can do the same for you, no matter how much despair and hopelessness you’re experiencing today. God’s presence in your situation can give you hope for depression.

We just have to remind ourselves of the power of His presence in our circumstances by telling stories that include him.

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Susan is a mother of four beautiful babies and a born-again Christian. She took over Hope No Matter What in 2024 and enjoys sharing her knowledge of the goodness and faithfulness of God. Her passion is to bring hope and encouragement to others, and she prays that by sharing her knowledge and personal story, she can inspire others to find enlightenment in God's word.