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God's Cure For Depression
by Stephen Stillman
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Depression is without a doubt one of the most common problems in our time. Due to the fact depression is so common, it has been called the common cold of emotional diseases. According to Everett Worthington, "depression is a downward spiral begun by loss of control and made worse by lack of energy and negative thinking". The dictionary defines depression as "a feeling of extreme hopelessness". This emotion manifests itself in the seeming reactions of: All is lost, I want to quit, I can't make it.

Unfortunately Christians, even great spiritual leaders, are not exempt from depression. The psalmist David experienced it: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?" (Psalms 42:5). Moses cried out, "I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now." (Numbers 11:14-15). Elijah, the great prophet, battled depression just one day after his great triumph on Mount Carmel when he challenged the prophets of Baal, and he saw God answer his prayer in a mighty way.

When we look at these biblical heros we realize that depression is no respector of persons. Everyone gets depressed at times. The question thus becomes, what is God's remedy to cure depression? Let us look at the remedy God provided Elijah for it is one we can all use.

Step 1. Realize that depression is not a sin but a symptom. The way we respond to depression may be sinful, but the emotion itself is not. Sin may lead to depression, but all depression does not come from sin. Depression is like a warning light on a vehicle. The way to turn off the warning light is not to smash it out, but to find the problem. When depression sets in, something deep inside is usually wrong.

Step 2. Restore your physical body. "Then he (Elijah) lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, 'Get up and eat' " (I Kings 19:5). God's remedy involves rest, food, and relaxation. We must never forget the role our bodies play in our emotions. Some people consistently neglect themselves physically. You should get sufficient rest, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly.

Step 3. Relinquish your frustration to God. The Lord asked, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Elijah replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with a sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too' " (I Kings 19:9-10). Elijah blew off steam to God and poured out his inner feelings. God allowed Elijah to vent his frustrations without condemning or criticizing him. Regardless how bad our circumstances seem, we should never stop communicating with God. Share your heart. You don't have to be eloquent or creative; just let God know how you feel. Relinquishing your frustration brings a cleansing of all that has been pushed down inside of you and created these negative emotions.

Step 4. Refresh your awareness of God's presence. "The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord' "(I Kings 19:11). Nothing will refresh you like coming into the presence of God and realizing he loves and cares for you regardless of how you feel. God never promised this life would be happy, but he did promise to go with us through all our pain. If you are depressed, spend time alone with your Bible and God. As you read, allow God to speak to you and love you. There is no greater antidepressant than communication and fellowship with God.

Step 5. Redirect your life. God gave Elijah a new assignment. "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram" (I Kings 19:15). The fastest way to defeat depression is to quit drowning in self-pity. Take your eyes off yourself and start looking at the needs of others. Find people who are less fortunate and invest your life in them. When you give yourself to others, God will give to you. Jesus said, "Whosoever loses his life for me will find it" (Matthew 16:25).

Step 6. Renew a friendship. "So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat" (I Kings 19:19). Depressed people need true friends. Don't battle depression alone. Find a friend who will provide support and encouragement; someone who will help you see circumstances as they are, not as you perceive them. Eugene Kennedy said, "The main business of friendship is to sustain and make bearable each other's burdens." Christ can lift you out of depression. He can help you. He can heal you. You don't have to stumble through life depressed!

Written by: Stephen Stillman
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