Managing the Ups, Downs, and Flat Spots of Your Faith Journey

Elijah’s encounter with dysphoria is both realistic and hopeful
4 min read

One of the confusing things about becoming a Christian is what to do with the range of emotions that you still experience after becoming a Christian. A misconception for many is that once you begin following Jesus, you will no longer be vulnerable to feelings of sadness, fear, loneliness, and all those other hard-to-deal-with emotions.

This isn’t true. With Jesus comes indescribable joy to be sure, but this does not mean that a relationship with Him somehow makes you immune from occasionally feeling the same uncomfortable things that you used to feel, the same things that everybody else feels from time to time.

Elijah is a perfect example of this. He was a strong believer, a prophet of God even, but he was all over the map emotionally. There was one particular section of his life, for example, when he went from the mountaintop of elation to a cave of despair just like that.

When God showed up on Mt. Carmel and defeated the false prophets, Elijah was probably feeling very good about things. Fire came down from the sky and consumed the offerings just as Elijah had requested, proving that his God was the true God and the pagan gods were deaf and impotent. It was a victorious moment. Elijah was surely euphoric about the whole experience.

Life was working.

But shortly thereafter, when Jezebel ordered a revenge hit on his life, Elijah was filled with fear. In a panic, he found himself running as fast as he could to get out of town. This sudden change of circumstances led Elijah into what appears to be a state of loneliness and deep depression. He was so blue he asked God to end his life.

“‘…I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.'”

1 Kings 19:4

But the important thing is that God did not abandon Elijah in that difficult place. Instead, He went with him. He pursued Elijah and, being the merciful God that He is, He intervened. He ministered to Elijah in his brokenness not with a booming wake-up call, but by asking Elijah questions and then by speaking to him in a still small voice. God patiently and persistently reached out to Elijah until he was back on his feet, then He told him, “Go back the way you came…” (1 Kings 19:15).

Elijah was done with life. But God wasn’t done with Elijah.

Like Elijah, we are prone to the same ups and downs. Right now you may be enjoying a great view from a high place. Life is working great and your’re loving it. Or, on the other hand, maybe you’re in a dark valley and life feels impossibly hard. Either way, just like Elijah, God is with you in both places. When it’s good, He is present. When it’s not good, He is still present.

Elijah was done with life. But God wasn’t done with Elijah.

So, whether you are atop a personal summit today, or grinding it out in a cave, be encouraged. God sees you, knows you, and cares for you. Listen closely and you may hear that same still small voice in your spirit urging you to press on.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

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