It’s been a rough winter and there are still several weeks till spring. As a group, brainstorm some ideas of things to do inside and outside to finish strong this winter season. Given the seriousness of this week’s topic, take a moment to review the Small Group Social Contract. In particular, emphasize the importance of confidentiality within the small group.
1. God has provided us with what we need to break the pattern of depression. He has given us His Word (see Hebrews 4:12). He has given us His promises (see Psalms 46:1). He has given us His grace (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). He has given us His correction (see Colossians 2:20-23). Why is it vital for a person caught in depression to believe that God and His Word have authority in their lives? What other things seem to take authority in our lives?
2. Understanding Depression. Pastor James defined depression as a temporary emotional state characterized by exaggerated extended feelings of hopelessness that are not consistent with reality. Although God made us to feel, depression occurs when those feelings are not proportionate to the occasion. What place should feelings have in response to a difficult situation?
3. How would psychological and biblical world views see the cause of depression differently? Does a biblical view of depression allow room for a biological cause? When might anti-depressants be considered helpful for a Christian battling depression? How should the decision to take medication be made (see Proverbs 15:22)? Pastor James explained that a person’s battle with depression might come in stages: (a) Downcast, (b) Discouragement, (c) Depression, and then (d) Despair. As a small group, explain what you learned about each stage. What would you say when: (a)
you’re the person caught in one of these stages? (b) You know a person caught in one of these stages?
4. Understanding the Timing of Depression (1 Kings 17-19). Take a moment to review the story of Elijah. Consider not only the circumstances, but also the physical, emotional, and spiritual factors. Based on the story of Elijah, depression could occur: (a) Aﬅer intense ministry output (18:21-39). What is typically going on spiritually and emotionally during an intense time of ministry that could contribute to depression? (b) Aﬅer relational conflict (v. 40). What is a reaction to relational strife that could lead someone into a dangerous place (see Proverbs 18:1)? (c) Aﬅer physical exhaustion (v. 41-46). What steps can be taken to restore the soul and body? (d) Aﬅer a major victory (19:1). Give examples where someone struggles hard to achieve a goal only to find that once they got it they weren’t satisfied? (e) Aﬅer a huge disappointment (v. 2-3). What role do expectations play in leading someone to get so disappointed in a result that they become depressed?
5. How to Get Depressed – 3 Easy Steps (1 Kings 19:3-10). Through Elijah’s example, the Scriptures guide our
understanding of the steps a person takes towards depression: (a) Find a place by yourself (v. 3). Why is isolation a huge step
toward depression (see Proverbs 18:1)? Identify what the person who isolates himself is communicating by their words or
actions. (b) Focus on the negative (v. 10, 14). What is the person who is focused on the negative focused mostly on? What has
that focus done to their vision of their situation? (c) Forget God’s provision for you (v. 4). Create a list of 3-5 promises from
God’s Word that would be like a blood transfusion to a person who has forgotten God’s goodness.
6. Choosing the Cure to Depression (1 Kings 19:11-19). Pastor James showed us from the text five steps a person can take to be liberated from depression. (a) Let God confront you (v. 9). What is a common feeling a depressed person struggles with (see Romans 8:1)? What is encouraging about the way God approached Elijah in the cave? (b) Let God reveal Himself to you (v. 11-12). What are the voices competing for the attention of a depressed person’s mind? What does God promise for those who are His children (see John 10:27)? How does the depressed person dial-in to hear God’s voice (see Romans 10:17)? (c) Receive God’s provision (v. 6-7). What does God’s provision to Elijah demonstrate? Why is his unmerited favor a key to freedom from depression (see Isaiah 61:1-3) (d) Do what God says immediately (v. 15-17). What does God promise about obeying Him (see 1 John 5:2-3, John 14:21)? (e) Get involved with people again (v. 18-19). What does a person need to connect with people? (see Hebrews 10:24-25, Galatians 6:2)
7. Discuss the biblical approach to coming alongside a person struggling with depression? (see James 1:19-20, Romans 12:15) Share some Scriptures that you would take with someone to who is struggling with depression (examples: Psalm 34:18). How might God use depression to correct or train us in righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 10:13)?