Saturday, March 19, 2022

Kicking Depression to the Curb in 2022


 I want to talk to you today about a subject that many don’t want to either talk about or even listen to others talk about. That subject is depression. Did you know that one in ten adults in the United States struggles with depression and it’s common in older people. Feeling sad or “low” is just one symptom of depression.  

There’s a story in the Bible about a well-known prophet, Elijah, who was battling depression. Let me summarize his story found in I Kings 19:1-31.  After the victory on the mountain where Elijah and the prophets of Baal had a contest to see whose God would hear them and burn up a pile of wood on an altar, the Lord God of Elijah heard his prayer, burned up the water-soaked wood, the sacrifice, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench. The Baal worshippers got no response from their god and their prophets were put to death.

Upon hearing this, Queen Jezebel sent word to Elijah that within a day’s time he would be as
dead as her prophets. Elijah ran in fear for his life to Beersheba, where he left his servant, and then ran another day’s journey into the desert. There he collapsed under a broom tree and prayed for death saying, “I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave,” and fell into an exhausted sleep. At this point an angel awakened him and told him to get up and eat. God had provided bread and water for him and he consumed them both and fell asleep again. Again, an angel appeared to him and told him to eat some more as God had some work for him to do.

So, what can we learn from Elijah’s story?
  • When you wear yourself out, you’re vulnerable to depression. Elijah had just experienced a major victory, but he’s worn out. It was an all-day event. What does he do? He takes off and runs to Jezreel which is 25 miles away. Then he hears that Jezebel has a death warrant out for him and he panics and runs to Beersheba which is another 100 miles, drops off his servant and runs another day’s journey into the desert. There he falls, exhausted under a broom bush just praying for death. God did not criticize Elijah, he didn’t lecture him, he certainly didn’t tell him to just “snap out of it.” No, he had him eat and sleep and then do it again until he was thoroughly rested and refreshed.
Some of you most likely could benefit from a regular sleep and eating schedule. Some of you refuse help from children, grandchildren, or friends who are only too happy to take some of your workload on themselves. Others of you could afford to hire some help with cleaning or yard work, but you’ve made it a badge of honor to do it yourself. Some of you haven’t developed good eating habits since you’ve become widowed. You may not even realize that a root cause of your poor eating habits is mild depression. You just slough it off as hating to eat alone, but most likely, it goes deeper than that. My aunt, who was a single woman, carefully put her place setting out before serving herself a meal. Just because she was alone didn’t deter her from making a nutritious meal and serving it as though she were in the company of others. Don’t neglect your health by poor eating habits.
  • When you’re depressed, you tend to shut people out. Elijah dropped his sidekick off and continued on alone. Make sure that you don’t shut people out. Your friends and family are there to help you. They love you and the worst thing you could do is isolate yourself from others. God made us to be in community. Don’t give in to thoughts such as, “I can handle this alone,” or “I just don’t feel like being around people anymore,” or “No one would understand my feelings anyway.” And don’t pretend everything is okay, when inside you’re “caving in.”

The pandemic has touched the lives of all us to some degree and many of us have lost close friends and/or family members to it. Special days tends to be a “downer” for widows and other pressures of life are always on the verge of closing in on us. There’s more than enough as we age to threaten our mental health so we have to be on the alert and be wise in how we respond.

 Are you getting enough exercise? Exercise benefits us in many ways such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure according to Dr. Ronan Factora, M.D. Dr. Craig Miller reminds us that exercise supports nerve cell growth which helps relieve depression. So, make sure you’re getting enough exercise, rest, and proper nutrition.

As you look forward to the remainder of this year, remember that physical health is important to mental health and practice good habits to enjoy this year in the grace and peace of our precious Savior, Jesus Christ. Even though Elijah prayed for death, God let him know that he still had work for him to do. The same applies to you. Your worth is not devalued because you are getting older, are widowed or for any other reason. You are a valuable and much-loved daughter of God. Live 2022 in expectation of what God has planned for you.

Message by Shari Hervold

                                           God Will Make A Way by Don Moen