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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Dealing With Despair

Robert Jeffress - Dealing With Despair


Robert Jeffress - Dealing With Despair
TOPICS: Our Problems and God's Answers, Desperation, Depression

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The journey of life is an erratic and unpredictable walk, filled with highs and lows, peaks and valleys. And when we step into one of those deep valleys, sometimes we sink to a point of complete depression. Today we're turning to 1 Kings 18, in which we find an Old Testament hero struggling to recover from the lowest moment of his life. From his story, we can identify the root of his misery and learn how to rise above those feelings. My message is titled, "Dealing With Despair", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

In our continuing series on our problems and God's answers, we come tonight to a problem, that if you haven't dealt with yet you are going to deal with at some point in your life. In fact, it's a problem that is so crucial that if left undealt with, it can result in the loss of your job, the loss of your family, and the loss of your life. And the problem we're talking about is the problem of depression. This week I had lunch with one of the foremost Christian psychiatrist in our nation, Dr. Frank Minirth. And yes, I've reached that point in my ministry here where I'm seeing a psychiatrist. No I'm just teasing. We were having lunch together and kind of catching up on things. And I asked Dr. Minirth, thinking about the message tonight. I asked him what the number one problem he treats, the number one problem for which people come to him for consulting. He said at the top of the list is depression.

In fact, more people suffer from depression than all the other psychological disorders combined. By one estimate, more than 25 million people are suffering from depression today. Living in a fallen world like we do makes depression a natural emotion. That's why the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:6, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while you have been distressed by various trials". Just going through the normal trials of life are enough to make you depressed. Jesus said in John 16:33, "In this world, you will have tribulation but take courage for I have overcome the world". You are not going to be able to avoid the natural difficulties that occur in this life and the corresponding depression that occurs. But I do believe the Bible gives us some very practical ways to manage this difficult emotion that we call depression. And that's what we're going to talk about tonight. How to use God's word to deal with the depression that will come in your life at one point or another.

And there's a background text tonight I want us to turn to 1 Kings 19. 1 Kings 19. 1 Kings 18 is of course the story of Elijah doing battle against the prophets of Baal on mount Carmel. In fact, I'm looking at my notes here in my Bible from 1 Kings 18. The very last sermon I preached here in this church before I left, July the sixth, 1985 was 1 Kings 18. And I have my notes here in the Bible from that passage. Well, 1 Kings 18 is a great, great story about Elijah's victory over the prophets of Baal. But remember what happened in chapter 19. Elijah had just slain the 850 prophets of Baal. He had proved to the whole nation that Jehovah, not Baal, was the true God. But remember, Ahab and Jezebel weren't overjoyed when they learned what Elijah had done to their prophets. And Jezebel was especially ticked off. Look at her reaction in verse two. "Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying," 1 Kings 19:2, "So may the Gods do to me and even more if I do not make your life as one of them by tomorrow, about this time".

In other words, I'm going to do to you what you did to these prophets of Baal. And how did Elijah react? Look at verse three. "And Elijah was afraid and he arose and he ran for his life and he came to Beersheba". I always thought it was interesting that 850 angry prophets of Baal couldn't faze Elijah. But one disgruntled female sent him running. And that's what happens when you take your eyes off God and put them on your circumstances. Elijah ran, and boy did he run. Talk about a marathon he ran 120 miles from Beersheba to Jezreel. Verse three says, and notice what happened in verse four. Finally out of exhaustion, it says in verse four, "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and he came and he sat down under a juniper tree and he requested for himself that he might die. And he said, 'it is now enough, o Lord, take my life for I am not better than my fathers'". Elijah sat under that tree and he threw one gigantic pity party for himself. I'm through Lord. This is it. Take my life.

Now I want to stop here and just point out what is very obvious. Isn't it interesting how this tremendous low followed a great spiritual victory that Elijah had just experienced. Now you mark it down and remember this always. Great spiritual highs are almost always followed by great spiritual lows. I think there's an actual reason for that. Sometimes we are physically worn out when we have done spiritual battle and it is only natural that the deficiencies we feel would result in depression. I think it's also true that when we have gone through a great spiritual victory, we sometimes let our guard down. And we are prone to the temptations of the evil one. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall". We can never let our spiritual guard down. We have an adversary who was always on the prowl. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert for your adversary, the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour".

Part of Elijah's problem in his depression, I believe first of all, was a physical problem. And that leads to the causes of depression that I want us to look at tonight. Why is it we become depressed? First of all, physical fatigue. Elijah ran the 120 miles and he was worn out. There's was a great football coach, the late Vince Lombardi who said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all". There is something about physical exhaustion that warps our perspective. Job think that was true of Elijah. He needed some rest.

Look at 1 Kings 19:5. He's exhausted, he said, "Lord, take my life". Verse 5, "And he laid down and he slept under a juniper tree. And behold there was an angel touching him. And he said to him, arise and eat. Then he looked and behold, there was at his head, a bread cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. So he ate and he drank and he laid down again". Verse 7, "And the angel of the Lord came a second time and touched him and said arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you". So again, he arose and he ate and he drank. And he went in the strength of that food 40 days and 40 nights to horeb the mountain of God.

I had a seminary professor one time who said, "Men, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap". And that's true, sometimes the best way to revitalize yourself spiritually is to take care of your physical needs. Take a nap, get the nutrition, the rest, the exercise that you did, that you need.

Number two, there are some other causes of depression. Another cause can be anger. Anger. Somebody has said that depression is anger turned inward. At our last power lunch we talked about ways to deal with anger. Sometimes people blow up and blow off. They spew anger toward other people, but sometimes especially if it's a mate, an employer, somebody they don't feel like they can fully vent with. They turn that anger inward and they become depressed. Anger or depression is anger turned inward. And that's why in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us about how to deal with anger.

In verse 22, Jesus said, "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court. And whoever shall say to his brother 'raca' shall be guilty before the supreme court". So how do you deal with anger? Look at what he says in verse 23. "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you. Leave your offering before the altar, go your way and first be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your offering". The answer to anger is reconciliation. If you're depressed right now, one reason for depression may be an unresolved problem you have with somebody. The best thing to do to relieve that anger is for you to take the step toward reconciliation.

Third cause of depression can be anxiety. Worry. Somebody has said that worry is interest paid on a problem before it's due. Of course, the great antidote to worry is found in Philippians 4:6. I like the living Bibles paraphrase. "Don't worry about anything. Instead pray about everything".

A fourth source of depression can be guilt. Guilt. But sometimes the guilt we have is misplaced guilt. We find ourselves feeling burdened over things that God has already forgiven us for. And Satan loves to dredge those things in our past up again. But sometimes the depression we feel is over unresolved guilt. Guilt for which we have not received God's forgiveness. And of course the great example of that in the Bible is the experience of king David. During that period of six months to perhaps a year when he hid his guilt rather than relieving his guilt through God's forgiveness. He talks about that time in Psalm 32:3-4 and he says, "When I kept silent about my sin my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For a day and night thy hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of the summer". Some of you right now feel weighted down over something in your past. Perhaps something going on in your life right now. Unconfessed sin for what you have not received the relief that comes from God's forgiveness.

Number five, some of our depression can come from the loss of a loved one. Being separated from someone we care about either because of distance or because of a defection of affections or because of death. That can cause a great amount of depression. And that's normal, at least for a while. Even Jesus, the Son of God, when he learned that his friend Lazarus had died. The shortest verse in the Bible John 11:37, says, "Jesus wept". And of course, in the Greek, it's not, he just moistened his eyes a little bit. It talks about a continual weeping that came about as a result of his friend's death. And by the way, we do a great great disservice to our fellow Christians. When we make them feel guilty about grieving over the loss of a loved one. Grief is normal. Grief is necessary for the healing process.

Another cause of depression can be age. Age. Depression is one of the most common complaints of senior citizens and it's natural when you consider all the losses that a senior citizen goes through. The loss of a job, maybe either through termination or simply through retirement, the loss of his position in his company, his place of esteem, sometimes the loss of loved ones whether they be family members or friends. All of these losses pile up after awhile and can cause depression. By the way, I think that was part of Elijah's problem. He was coming now to the end of his ministry and another person Elisha was about to take that place of ministry. And I think a part of Elijah's depression might've had to be due to age.

A seventh cause of depression that I want to talk about for a moment is one that's controversial among some Christians but it needs to be addressed. And that is chemical imbalances. We are spirit, but we're more than spirit. We are body, soul and spirit. And there is such a close relationship between our body, between our emotions and between our spiritual wellbeing. Sometimes it's hard to know what causes what. Somebody has said that the body, soul and spirit are so interrelated that if one catches a cold, the other two sneeze. That's probably true. Your brain is a combination of chemical and electrical responses. And sometimes those chemicals get out of balance and that's why they need to be treated.

Now I know there's some Christians who are all against medication especially psychological medication for Christians. They say, all you need to do is read the Bible. Just read the Bible and you'll be okay. Well they say, if I take a drug, I am altering my physiology and I just shouldn't do anything that alters my physiology. And the truth is if you take a vitamin you're altering your physiology. Go to a Christian doctor. Go to somebody who can help you and give you the treatment that you need. Well how do you treat depression? Just as there is no single cause of depression, there is also no single cure. But let me give you a couple of principles to help you in dealing with this issue.

First of all, view depression realistically. It's unrealistic to think that you're immune from depression. Everybody at some point in his life is going to be depressed. But equally it's wrong to think if you are depressed right now that it is a hole that you can never climb out of. See depression as a tunnel. Bad news is, it's dark. The good news is, once you've gone in, you're already on the way out.

Number two, see depression as necessary. And depression is not only an inevitable emotion, it is also a necessary one. It's important sometimes to go through depression as a way to slow us down to give us a chance to heal emotionally especially after going through a great loss. By the way it's in those valleys of depression. That many times we experience our greatest amount of spiritual growth. Remember it was for Elijah during that time of depression that God was able to minister to him and give him the strength he needed for his future ministry.

Number three, beware of the easy solutions. Beware of the easy solutions be aware of people who say, just listen to this tape and that's all you need. You'll get out of your depression or read this or listen to this sermon. They're usually no easy steps to get out of depression. Those things can be helpful but many times it just takes time.

Number four, share your emotions with a friend. Now listen to me on this. Depression thrives on isolation. It thrives on isolation and that's why it is so important that you have people around you who can encourage you and who can objectively look at your situation and give you advice. Remember 2 Corinthians 1, God comforts us. The word means strengthens us in our affliction so that we can comfort others with the same comfort with which we have been comforted. Many times friends can help us.

Number five, take care of your body. Take care of your body. If there are physical causes of depression, it means we need to take care of our bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19 reminds us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, "But we have this treasure. The treasure of the Gospel in earthen vessels". Take care of your nutritional needs. Your need for rest and your need for exercise. Make sure you're taking care of yourself physically.

Number six, develop a life purpose. And one reason people get depressed is they have no purpose, no meaning in life. Well, a cure for that, is to develop a life purpose. And of course, as Christians, we have that purpose. It's been given to us. Our purpose is to glorify God. God is most glorified, not in times of peace and prosperity in absence of conflict. The way God is glorified is when we're going through trials and we appropriate the strength that comes from God. Have a purpose in life that is bigger than yourself.

Number seven, most importantly, remember God's faithfulness. Remember the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 30:5. Sorrow enduring the nights but joy comes in the morning. That's the promise that belongs to every true child of God.
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