Under the Juniper Tree

being renewed under the treeGod spoke to my heart many years ago from the story of Elijah.  In 1 Kings 19:4, when Jezebel was pursuing Elijah with soldiers, Elijah asked God to kill him because Elijah felt like death would be a better solution: “He requested for himself that he might die: and said, it is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (emphasis mine)

Don’t we feel that way sometimes?  Lord, just get me out of here.  I wish I could escape from this earth, this pain, this sorrow, or this problem.  It surrounds me day and night. So here I sit here, night after night.  Just get me out of here.  I wish all this was over. I wish everyone and every thing would just go away Notice that Elijah slept! There is something about depression that makes you want to literally sleep your life away. You simply have no mental energy to get out of bed or interact with anyone.

  Here’s a surefire way to beat depression, however. First, the angel told him to “arise and eat.”  God wanted Elijah to get out of that place fast!  The land of depression is not a place to linger.  Joshua 1:6 says, “Be strong and of a good courage.” So be strong even if you don’t feel strong.  Feelings do not make the man.  Your commitment to God makes you who you are, not how you feel.  Too many of us worship the good feelings we have in serving God rather than the God we serve.  God did not promise us we would always have “good vibes” while we serve Him.

God gave Elijah the nourishment he needed for the journey, and God will give you a scripture or a thought that will help you overcome.  The feelings won’t go right away, so you have to push past them.  Resist the temptation to stay at home, close the blinds, avoid everyone, and not answer the phone.

Unfortunately, Elijah did what a lot of us do. After receiving instruction, he ate and lay back down.  So many of us after hearing the voice of God cannot get the negative thoughts out of our heads.  We hear the encouragement but have often gotten ourselves in such a negative pit of wrong thinking that it takes more than a notion to get ourselves out.    So God had to come to Elijah again and tell him to get up! (I Kings 19:7, “And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.”)

Once you accept the level of depression Elijah accepted, it’s hard to move from that place under the Juniper tree.  But you are still saved.  You are still God’s man or woman, so you must get up and shine.   The world around you needs your life and testimony. So keep running for your life.  God will provide you a place of safety like he did for Elijah, but to get yourself there, you have to move!

Elijah felt so alone.  He thought he was the only one who stood for the Almighty.  It was his baggage of self-pity that made the world seem so small. But God gave him the encouragement. He told him “I have 700 prophets who have not bowed.” The Lord knows just what it takes to encourage each of us in a personal way.  The lesson from the Juniper tree is get up and find that place in God that will help you move forward.

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Overcoming Depression

depressedDr. Larry Crabb in his book “Effective Biblical Counseling” used a very key term in understanding human need.  He theorizes that the two greatest needs for human beings are Significance and Security.  I want to focus on this thought in terms of our theme this month—Overcoming Depression– and say  that my writing this month will focus on how depressed feelings can come from not having these two needs met.  I’ve heard ministers teach a pie-in-the-sky Christianity in which depression does not darken the doorstep of good solid Christians, but I see no scripture that supports this belief.  I want to be clear that although below I am laying out the clinical markers for depression, we are still talking about spiritual warfare when it comes to overcoming this as a Christian. As a believer in Christ, we have additional help to overcome Depression.  Webster’s dictionary defines Depression is defined as, “A mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy, feelings of sadness and gloom.” We have biblical examples of good men of God who seemed to be baffled by their situations and this resulted in feelings of sadness, gloom, or pessimism as a result. God was still on their side and did not abandon them. Continue reading