What Causes and Cures Spiritual Depression?

Have you ever felt beat up, kicked down, depressed, and alone? In 1 Kings 19:1-8, one of the greatest men after Jesus, Elijah the prophet, has spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional struggles, showing us how we too can be godly in our struggles.

What causes and cures spiritual depression? (1 Kings 19:1-8)

Mental Health Awareness Month: Even godliest people = some discouragement & depression

-Jer./Lam. 24:14-18, “because he did not kill me in the womb”…“Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?” 

– Job 3:1 “Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth”

– Psalms/Laments 

– Paul “we were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life” (2 Cor 1:8 HCSB). 

History – Martin Luther, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, & Abraham Lincoln

–       Martin Luther “frequently on the borders of despair”

–       Spurgeon battled a “‘causeless depression…is not to be reasoned with…You might as well fight with the mist as with this shapeless, indefinable, yet all beclouding hopelessness.’”

Jesus emotions – 60X Gospels. TROUBLED ONLY (religious people weaponize Bible) 

Jesus’ Emotions in Matthew

26:37–38—“sorrowful and troubled”; “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”

27:46—“Jesus cried out with a loud voice. . . ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Jesus’ Emotions in Mark

3:5—“anger, grieved” (esv, nasb, nkjv), “anger and sorrow” (hcsb), “anger and, deeply distressed” (niv) or “angrily . . . deeply saddened” (nlt)

7:34—“He sighed” (esv, nlt, nkjv); “He sighed deeply” (hcsb); “deep sigh” (nasb, niv).

8:12—“sighed deeply in his spirit”

14:33–34—“greatly distressed and troubled . . . ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.’”

15:34—“Jesus cried with a loud voice . . . ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Jesus’ Emotions in Luke

12:50—“Great is my distress” (esv); “what constraint I am under” (niv); “how distressed I am” (nkjv); “I am under a heavy burden” (nlt).

19:41—“He wept.”

22:44—“in agony” (esv, nasb, nkjv), “in anguish” (hcsb, niv), “in such agony of spirit” (nlt)

Jesus’ Emotions in John 

11:33—“deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” (esv), “angry in His spirit and deeply moved” (hcsb), “groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (nkjv), “a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled” (nlt)

11:38—“deeply moved again” (esv), “angry in Himself again” (hcsb), “deeply moved within” (nasb), “again groaning in Himself” (nkjv)

12:27—“Now is my soul troubled.”

13:21—“troubled in his spirit” (esv), “deeply troubled” (nlt) = -Man sorrows -Wept

Highs – God spoke, no rain, flour/oil, raised dead, fed, fire heaven, rain, outran horse 

Elijah: A case study in the causes and cures of spiritual depression

1 Kings 19:1–8 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

James 5:17 (TLB) “Elijah was as completely human as we are…”

  1. Triggered – Jezebel vows to demons to destroy 
  2. Dysregulated – regulated = you have emotions. VS. emotions have you 

= “no better than my fathers” – generational martyrdom? No wife/kids

Elijah = BURNOUT 

1.    Physically – lived alone, hunted ran 3.5 years = “he lay down & slept under a broom tree”

2.    Emotionally – No rain 3.5 yrs, Mt Carmel fire, slaughter false prophets = hated/hunted

3.    Relationally – alone/isolated no wife/kids – left servant 

4.    Mentally – “he asked [God] that he might die”

5.    Spiritually – OPPRESSED – demons don’t share our limits (1 hr vs 8 hrs, Mon) 

= HE’S HONEST w/God/Self = 200 lb jacket (leaders are human beings) 

Seven Lessons from Elijah’s Spiritual Depression

  1. For every ministry, there is anti-ministry. 
  2. The stronger the anointing, the deeper the suffering.
  3. There’s a big difference between privacy and secrecy. [Elijah’s news to tell]
  4. The leader who calls the shots will take the shots.
  5. There’s a difference between self-care, and being selfish.
  6. God treats some people better than they treat themselves.
  7. If Elijah needed time with Jesus, we all need time with Jesus.

= Jesus #1 compassion

God’s Recovery Plan for Elijah (?Professional) 

God pursues Elijah for recovery NOT rebuke (vs Jonah – ran, sat under tree, wanted to die)


1.    Sleep: “he lay down & slept”

2.    Divine Touch #1: “an angel touched him & said to him” – invite HS heal/speak (Bible study)

3.    Nutrition: “arise & eat”

4.    Feasting: “a cake baked on hot stones” – party/celebrate, Grace’s #1 

5.    Hydration: drank “a jar of water”

6.    Divine Touch #2: “the angel…touched him” = Min. Presence. Jesus down, later Elijah down 

7.    Wellness Habits: “ate & drank” again

8.    Worship: 

-“Beersheba” -Abraham & Isaac sacrifice, place worship w/believers 

-“Horeb (Mt. Sinai) the mount of God” – Moses 10 Comm & place worship gen’s = logs fire

9.    Servant: “Elisha” – next scene – Beating-Blessing

10.  Sabbath: “40 days & 40 nights” = process

  • Noah – rain 40X40 (Gen 7)                            – Moses – on Mt. w/God (Ex. 24:32)
  • Moses – sent spies Canaan (Nu. 7:23)          – Goliath – picked fight (1 Sam. 17)
  • Jesus – fasted alone (Matt. 4)                        -Jesus – after res before asc (Acts 1:3)

=My testimony & our family TC (sad, oppression, work, safety; NOW – 40 days, video, family)



1.    Everyone – how ru doing? What is the Holy Spirit saying about you, or someone close??

2.    Leaders incl. former church staff & families – TC is a healing place (STAND) “touch”

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Mark Driscoll

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