Superhero Depression

Superhero DepressionHe had just defeated the enemy in the most spectacular way possible: a double-dog deity dare to prove which god was really true. The prophet Elijah succeeded in exposing Baal as a fraud and Jehovah as omnipotent. He killed 450 prophets of Baal and demonstrated his spiritual authority and power to the king and his people. What happened next? He ran for the hills, afraid of a girl. Of course, this was no ordinary girl. This was Queen Jezebel, the wicked Sidonian princess turned Queen of Israel, overseer of magic arts and the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth. Still, after witnessing firsthand God’s amazing power against the prophets of Baal and the knowledge that Baal was a fraud, one would think Elijah would have nothing to fear. Somehow he got in his head that he was the only prophet left (1 Kings 19:10, 14). Running for his life and in deep depression, he even told God to take his life. Elijah? Depressed? Yes! Even the superheroes of the scriptures fell at times, going from mountaintop to valley, sometimes even into tunnels and caves.

It is easy to admire Elijah’s boldness and his courage to grandstand for God in front of the people and prophets of Baal. The audacity to taunt the prophets by implying their god was in the bathroom and unable to kindle fire is priceless. Yet, after all of this boldness, he ran away in fear. Why was he so afraid? The three and half years when there was no rain, he was also hunted by the king, but for some reason this time was different. Elijah had just witnessed the power of God, but something throbbed inside his head: “I’m the only one left.”

Loneliness suffocates hope. Like most of us, when we feel alone, Elijah avoided fellowship and ran for the desert. Left with nothing but time, his thoughts became fixated on his isolation. Although he had triumphed over the false prophets, the Enemy was prevailing in the struggle for control of his mind and heart. As his mind gave ground for thoughts of loneliness, his heart sank into depression.

“Elijah, wake up! Don’t you remember what just happened months earlier? You stopped up the sky so that it didn’t rain for over three years. God supernaturally provided food for you and a family. You prayed and it rained. You single-handedly killed 450 prophets of Baal and demonstrated how great your God is. Have you forgotten the promises and victories of God?”

Isolated and without other believers to encourage him, he believed the lie, “I am the only one left.”

The Bible paints heroes in all their glory and tragedy, often with little commentary. It is simply a fact of life: God can use a person to do the miraculous, but the next day our heroes can fall into depression and remind us how human they really are. David, the man after God’s own heart and a giant-killer, struggled with depression throughout the Psalms (Psalm 38, 42, 43). John the Baptist witnessed the outpouring of the Spirit upon Jesus at his baptism and testified to Jesus being the, “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Yet, after being locked away in a prison, he began to doubt and sent messengers to ask Jesus, “Are you the one, or should we expect another?”

Even superheroes doubt. We often overlook their frailties because we do not want to be reminded of our own. In each instance, the hero takes his eyes off the Savior and begins to focus on himself: his fears, his desires, his predicament. He tells God how big his problem is, instead of declaring to his problem how big God is.

Elijah’s epic adventure with the prophets of Baal was followed by an epic failure. God in his grace did not allow Elijah to stay in that lonely place, but spoke the truth to him and gave him an assignment to move past his fear. Elijah obeyed and eventually called fire down from heaven twice more before God called him up to heaven with fireworks. As always, God is able to take the singed fragments of our faith and create something beautiful, and he does it for our good and his glory.

What are some practical ways you fight despair, depression and defeat in your own life? Email us at [email protected] and let us know!

Tye Riter is the Executive Pastor of REVEAL Fellowship in Lake Worth. He can be reached at [email protected].


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