Have you ever wondered why the feeling of low spirits is called “the blues?” You see, blue is simply an incredible color. When I think of blue I think of the beauty of a clear sky, pretty blue eyes or the song, “My Blue Heaven.” So it is difficult for me to connect blue with “the dumps” or depression.

Yet I recognize that the condition is real. Who of us is not familiar with the blues? Certainly not all of us are familiar with them to the same degree, but all of us are familiar with them. We all have our ups and downs, our better days and our rough days. Everyone of us serves time with our own version of the blues.

The late Scott Peck, an American psychiatrist and noted author, identified depression or the blues as the emotional side of despair. The intellectual side being cynicism. Whatever depression is we have the feeling of being down.

The biblical prophet Elijah had that problem. He was in a serious struggle with his depression.

After he and God had defeated the 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, the wicked queen Jezebel sent word to Elijah telling him that she was going to have him killed. Rather than rising to the challenge, Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.

To say the least, Elijah was despondent, discouraged and in a terrible battle with the blues. But later, after Elijah encountered an angel, the symbol of God’s presence, God spoke to Elijah and offered him some valuable insights on dealing with his depression. It is these insights that I want to share with you in the rest of this article.

First, look after your body. The first thing God did for the depressed Elijah was very practical. He told Elijah to rest, arise and eat.

So often it is our accelerated, hectic, hustle and bustle schedules that contribute to our depression. The need is always for a balanced diet, proper rest, disciplined exercise and regular advice from a physician. We can hardly expect God to deliver us from the blues if we are constantly wiped out all the time.

Second, remember that your present mood is only temporary. I lived in Texas for a decade and was often told about the weather. Regarding Texas weather, people stated, “If you don’t like it wait a minute, it’ll change.” And there is no doubt about the truth of that expression. However, the key point here is always to “wait a minute.”

A living example of this temporariness of mood was Elijah himself. To the contrary, if we read further in the scripture we’ll find that Elijah’s mood of the blues changed dramatically for the better.

Third, share with somebody. All of us need to share our depression with somebody — somebody, not everybody. If we attempt to share it with everybody, before long they will run in the opposite direction when they see us coming.

But it is very important to face our depression with some trusted, wholesome listener. That’s how we get our depression out into the open. That’s how we learn about the causes and not just the symptoms, and that’s how we gain some new perspectives about overcoming our depression.

Fourth, renew your relationship with God. The most important single thing God did for Elijah, to enable him to rise above his depression, was to give him a fresh vision of who God was and is, as God.

After Baptist preacher John Claypool lost his 8-year-old daughter to leukemia, a friend asked if God really made a difference at a time like this. Dr. Claypool answered, “Not with soaring ecstasy or energetic activism, but with quiet endurance.”

Renew your relationship with God.

Finally, do something for someone else. On occasion I will go into a hospital room where a child is ill. It might be eight or nine o’clock in the evening. I’ll ask the mother if she has had any dinner. Usually the reply will be, “No.”

Then I might ask if she has had any lunch. Again the answer is “No.” What happens there is that this mother will get so involved in the needs of her child that she forgets all about her own needs.

Point? When we get involved in serving God and others, our depression will tend to dissipate.

At any rate, when we’re dealing with “the blues,” if all else fails we should follow the directions.

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The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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