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Physical Causes of Depression

Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.
—1 Kings 1:7

Why do we sometimes become depressed? One reason, as we saw yesterday, is physical fatigue. Elijah ran 120 miles, and he was worn out. Physical exhaustion warps our perspective. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “Don’t make decisions when you are tired.” Your perspective isn’t right. After preaching several messages on Sunday, I’m exhausted. Every Monday I meet with the staff and review what’s coming up for the week–problems that need to be addressed and things we need to give attention to. Because I am tired, I can tend to be negative, so a staff member will gently remind me, “Now remember, Pastor, it’s Monday.” I have a rule: I don’t make any major decisions on Monday. By Tuesday my perspective has completely changed. I think that was true of Elijah. He needed some rest. In 1 Kings 19:4, he was exhausted and said, “Lord, take my life.” Then an angel ministered to him: “He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, ‘Arise, 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 drank and lay down again” (vv. 5-6).

“The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.’ So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God” (vv.7-8). 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 need.

Another cause of depression can be anger. Somebody has said that depression is anger turned inward. That’s why in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us how to deal with anger. He said, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (vv. 23-24). The answer to anger is reconciliation. If you are depressed, one reason for your 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.

A third cause of depression can be worry. Somebody has said that worry is interest paid on a problem before it’s due. We worry about things that never end up happening in our lives. Nothing will sap your emotional strength like worry. I think that was part of Elijah’s problem. Not only was he physically exhausted, but he was worried that Jezebel might kill him. The great antidote to worry is found in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Dealing with Depression” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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