Let me start with a question, how do we as Christians encourage each other? How is it during the darkest times in our lives do other Christians give us the worst advice? Should we even say anything if we don’t understand the entire issue? These are questions I have certainly asked. Also I have been on both sides of that coin. Needing encouragement and others needing encouragement from me. So, what’s the answer, and especially when it comes to TBI and the issues surrounding that. Well, I can say with authority I don’t have all the answers! Just ask my wife. However, I believe that Bible does. Let me set the stage. (The reference for what I’m about to share is in I Kings 19)
Elijah was a prophet of God in the Old Testament. He was a prophet during a time when the Israelites were not obeying God, and were worshipping other gods. This was mainly due to Jezebel the queen of Israel. Ahab was the king, but from what were told he was spineless when it came to her influence.
Needless to say Jezebel did not appreciate Elijah, nor his actions or teachings. The time came when Elijah challenged Jezebel to a duel of sorts; which Elijah won. (The details are in I Kings 18). The point is Elijah was on a high emotional point. With God’s help he won. This is exactly where I was before my accident. I’ve mentioned before, but at 18 I had more then a 5 year plan; it was closer to a 20 year plan, and nothing was going to stop me. Here I come world. Then in a matter of seconds things changed, and it became a different story. This was the same for Elijah see after he won, Ahab (The King) told Jezebel of Elijah’s victory, This was her response…”So, let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.” The point she wanted him dead. Now remember he had just had a awesome moment in his life where he was on top of the world, and now that changed.
He chose to run and was depressed for obvious reasons. In fact I Kings 19:4 Elijah asks God to kill him. This is where encouraging others and how to do it comes into play. Much what we say as comfort or encouragement comes from a desire to help others, which is great. However, when it comes to serious diseases, TBI, cancer, depression, or other ailments a quick statement about God loves you doesn’t help, or even worse the “snap out it” does more damage then good. This is what I find encouraging about this story in the middle of Elijah’s worst depression guess what God never says snap out if, other people have it worse, or what is so bad. You know what God did he sent an angel to feed him. Let that sink in for a moment. He fed him, you say huh? Well, I said it for you. What does that mean he took care of his physical needs. One thing I try to do is if someone asks for prayer; I will let them know I’m praying, but secondly add let me know if there is anything I can do. This isn’t to brag on me, but prayer is the easiest thing I can do. What about, whoever it is, their situation can I help with the here and now. Prayer is wonderful and needed, but prayer can be used to make ourselves feel that we did our part and that’s it.
What else did the angel do, he let Elijah sleep. Christians sometimes people need a break. Look through the gospels even Jesus took time to decompress. Decompressing is not a bad thing. Especially in our society everything is fast paced and go, go, go, that sometimes we need that rest. The angel also made sure he had enough food for the “journey” (I Kings 19:8) Allow yourself the time you need to heal. I know it the past several years I’ve had a concussion here and there; and with that one thing you need to do is rest. While was recovering from one I think I slept 16 hours. We need time to heal, to let whatever happened mend. Sometimes that can take a day, month, or years.
Then there comes a time where we’ve rested, been healed, and now its time to go. That’s what happened with Elijah he went to where he could speak to God and get back on track. Now this part is especially meant for those following God; Elijah spoke to God about his complaints, mainly that he felt he was the only one following God. God allowed him to vent, and then showed him he was not alone. Not only that God provided him a helper.
This part is for those of us that do suffer daily. We are not alone. There are people that understand. I do not make light of depression or anxiety, but sometimes we (I) get lost in my own world of darkness that I don’t see whose holding out their hand to help! These issues do not go away on there own, and you may need professional help, or you’ve had someone who cares for you suggest you someone; please do not shrug that help off it may just be what you need to start the road to feeling better. Let me add to those suffering from cancer or other diseases or life struggles you are not alone. People do care and want to help. We have to let others help us sometimes. So, what’s the point to all this? Like any good pastor (which I’m not) I’ll sum it up.
Do your best to understand the situation before offering platitudes. Be willing to help others with their physical needs. Let those that need rest, rest. If you don’t have the answers don’t answer. For us who suffer realize your not alone, be gracious to those that offer help, and realize when professional help is warranted.
I hope that was helpful, and please read the full story I Kings chapters 18 and 19. I found a lot of encouragement in that story. Please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. Thank you for your time.