January 10, 2006

Where Is God When We're Down?

1 Kings 19:1-9

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life... He ... prayed that he might die. 1 Kings 19:3-4


Some years ago I said in a sermon that more Christians struggle with depression than many of us realize. The next day someone called to tell me that I was wrong. "A real Christian won't get depressed," he said. I suggested he read 1 Kings 19 and Psalm 42. The Bible makes clear that believers do struggle with depression, sometimes even to the point where they want to die. Elijah, who only a few days earlier had seen a great miracle from God on a mountaintop, reached a point where death seemed better than life. He cried out and prayed that God would let him die. Depression can be real and frightening. A woman in her early twenties described her depression to me as being in a black hole from which she could not escape. Because of it she could not see a trace of God's presence. If you suffer from depression, read Psalm 42 and reread 1 Kings 19. Remember that God is where you are, even when you can't sense his presence. Cry out to him. Ask him to send someone to offer you a lifeline. Ask a close friend to help you find a Christian counselor, and if you suffer from clinical depression, don't be afraid to use medication, which can be a gift from God. And if you have never suffered from depression, thank God and ask him to let you be his presence in the life of someone who can no longer find God.

Lord, you understand the anguish of people who are depressed. Reach out to them and give them a sign of your presence. Thank you for always being with us. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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