Inactivity and the Depression Cycle

In our recent look at 1 Kings 19:1-21, I mentioned that escaping hopelessness often requires, by faith, going against what you feel like doing. One of the strongest impulses for the depressed person is the impulse to do nothing. The person feels unable to face life and so retreats into sorrow or indulgent activities. But this is actually counterproductive.

I remember a professor at seminary once pointing out an interesting pattern in counseling: people who largely get to make their own schedules are more likely to struggle with depression. The explanation is: when a downcast person has room to nurse his depression and neglect responsibilities, the ultimate result for that person is deeper despair.

We therefore can see the Lord’s wisdom in not only ministering to and teaching Elijah but also commissioning Elijah to return to action. Activity helps us again see the good of God in the world, moves our focus away from ourselves and our problems, and puts us in fellowship with those who can continue to encourage us.

If you’re caught in deepening despair, taking even a small action may seem monumental. But focus on just one step at time. Do the next thing that God has called you to do, by faith. And you will eventually remember the joy of the Lord.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 43:5, NASB)

Questions to Consider:
1. If you’ve ever been depressed, what did you feel like doing? Were those actions spiritually productive or counterproductive?
2. Is procrastination a form of despair? Why, or why not?
3. What is the next right thing God has called you to do by faith?