Wanting to die represents a serious symptom of depression. Along with a sad mood persisting more than two weeks, it provides reason enough to have a talk with your doctor, pastor, counselor, or trusted friend.
As we saw last blog, longing for death also shows up in God’s servants in the Bible. Any one of us are susceptible to such thoughts. How does God bring his servants out of depression?
At the end of his desperate flight across Palestine (from north to south) to save his life, the Lord meets Elijah at Mt. Horeb, “The mountain of God.” He might escape Jezebel, but not the Lord’s presence. In I Kings 19, the Lord invites Elijah to eat, allows him to complain with bitter self-pity twice about his solitary loyalty, and commissions him to annoint his successor Elisha. The Lord also reminds Elijah of the seven thousand who, with him, refuse to bow their knee to Baal. Elijah feels less alone–and less depressed.
The Lord also meets Jonah, who expresses bitterness at God’s love for his enemies in Nineveh. In spite of Jonah feeling “angry enough to die,” in chapter 4, the Lord speaks gently and reasonably with his servant. He reminds Jonah of how he, God, cares for him with the provision of a vine for his shade. Just as graciously the Lord reminds Jonah of his concern for the many thousands of Nineveh, “who cannot tell their right hand from their left.” Seeing his enemies from the Lord’s point of view, as needing to know right from wrong, lessens Jonah’s anger–and his depression.
Next blog we look at Jeremiah’s, Job’s, and Paul’s recoveries.