Some years ago I studied a Bachelor of Science, many of the papers were based on the physiological study of the human body however, what caught my interest was the amazing ability the body has to heal and repair itself, a divine design indeed. Mel Wild at In My Father’s House has recently written about the importance of caring for our physical bodies read more here so I am keeping the theme running because I want to exaggerate the importance of physical care ;-)
I am currently writing a ‘healing for the body’ chapter in my book. Here I thoroughly discuss healing for the body on a practical level and uncover what is required practically for this dynamic creation, we call the human body, to heal from depression.
Physiological needs for healing is a topic which is often overlooked in Christian circles. In my experience with healing from depression, I met many well-meaning Christians that were intent on spiritualising every aspect of my condition.
Our battle is not against flesh and blood, there is a spiritual realm in which we must contend for healing. (see Ephesians 6:12) However if we are to contend for healing, I believe it is not to give the enemy so much ‘air time’ that we become paranoid and look for a demon under every rock. Rather, I suggest we must embrace what is required for healing of the spirit and soul alongside applying some practical steps towards healing our physical bodies.
Recently I read a daily devotion penned by L.B Cowman Streams In The Desert, she writes on the issue of confounding physical weariness with spiritual weakness:
And what did God do with His tired servant? Gave him something good to eat and put him to sleep. Elijah had done splendid work and had run alongside of the chariot in his excitement, and it had been too much for his physical strength, and the reaction had come on and he was depressed. The physical needed to be cared for. What many people want is sleep and the physical ailment attended to. There are grand men and women who get where Elijah was- under a juniper tree! And it comes very soothingly to such to hear the words of the Master: “The journey is too great for thee, and I am going to refresh you.”
The above devotion is referring to the story of Elijah written in the book of 1 Kings. Here we read the how this great man of God was running away to hide from Jezebel:
“ But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (see 19: 3-5)
It is clear from the context that Elijah was exhausted – mentally and physically.
I believe he had not been eating or resting, that he was running on a spiritual high. He had great victories, revived a widow’s son, called down fire from heaven and then finds himself running scared from a girl! As his body was exhausted so to his mind became irrational, ‘Lord take my life’ is suicidal thinking!. He had already stood against greater odds than one woman and yet he was fearful and perceived the threat irrationally. (Sounds like depression)
How did God respond to Elijah? He cared for his natural needs: “Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.” (see 1 Kings 19:5-8)
The Lord’s care, is always according to our needs. The primary need that the Lord saw was the need for the body to recover strength: to sleep, to eat, to drink. Elijah had a nature – a human nature, just like our own. Therefore, if exhaustion and lack of nutrition can cause Elijah to have a flat day, then it can happen to us because we have the same nature, a human nature that requires adequate rest and nourishment. So there you have it straight from the Word of God… a good meal and a lie down can literally refresh your perspective and lift your mood, now you go, eat a nourishing meal and take yourself off to bed early… let’s leave the sitting under a Juniper Tree for the wildlife to enjoy!