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Elijah the Prophet: What We Can Learn From His Mental Health

In Elijah’s day, and now in our day, God still delights to pour His glory into weak vessels of clay like us. It’s not what is happening to us, but rather what God is doing through us for His glory. It’s never about how much God can do for us, but always about how much God can do through us.

As loyal followers of Christ, we must be willing to live for Jesus through times of tribulation as well as times of loneliness (see Acts 14:22, John 16:32, 1 Kings 17:2–7). As followers of Christ, there will be days when we feel depleted and depraved, have dark moments, and even feel worthless at times, when our souls are crying out for immediate help and we, too, need a compassionate, caring spirit to minister to our needs.

Preachers need to be ministered to like all other people. We have our moments of despair and weakness and often cry for help silently through prayer for the strength to overcome frustrations and anxieties. Often, it is difficult to express our emotions and disdained condition while serving at church, because no one wants to be perceived as a weak and inadequate leader; we feel we must be strong among the people of God.

Pastors and church leaders at times find themselves experiencing the same symptoms as Elijah at the brook—the place where God restores our failing health and revives us for the next level of ministry. As Elijah the Prophet spent time by that drying brook, he felt depleted, lonely, and miserable, but at the same time, God was preparing him for greater works.

The Bible doesn’t cover up or have a hidden agenda about those great women and men who lived during the Bible days. Like us, they experienced both physical and mental conditions while being instructed by God to serve as His servant leaders.

The Bible provides for us a clear picture of those whom the Lord called and chose to use. It gives us the whole story, both the failures and achievements of their life stories. When the Bible describes the great cloud of witnesses of the Old Testament and the New Testament, it tells the unvarnished truth of their struggles in real life ministry, their temptations, their difficulties. We too in ministry have experienced the same struggles and hardships, and we are not exempt from moments of anxiety and depression.

For our benefit, God used them and raised them up during their moments of depression and anxiety. Even today as we fall in ministry because of mental illness, member depression, or anxiety, God will still raise us up to serve Him again despite our previous conditions. God will never leave us nor forsake us. Elijah did not know God was preparing him for his next great adventure.

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Author and Pastor Dr. Bill Reese’s extensive professional ministry pairs exhaustive theological studies with intensive community initiatives focused on behavioral health and disabilities. He has dedicated most of his time and energy to helping in behavioral health organizations and faith-based organizations. After attending Southwestern Baptist Seminary School of Theology earned his doctorate at Evangel Christian University. He is married with twelve children (nine adopted) and thirty-five grandchildren.