“The Road to sorrow has been well trodden, it is the regular sheep track to heaven, and all the flock of God have had to pass along it.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Fainting Hero”1)
We all have a strange relationship with sadness. It has visited us often, unannounced, unwelcome, staying longer than we’d like. In recent months, sadness has hit us in new and challenging ways through a virus that has caused stay-at-home orders, financial strain, fear of infection, and even the death of loved ones.
In recent months, sadness has hit us in new and challenging ways through a virus that has caused stay-at-home orders, financial strain, fear of infection, and even the death of loved ones.
Because of our past and present struggles, we find ways (right or wrong) of dealing with these invasive, often persistent, feelings of sadness. When someone is first saved from their sins or finally begins to grow in their faith, it’s not uncommon to think that this problem of sadness should go away. And yet, sorrow not only continues to show up, it periodically intensifies. How does a follower of Christ deal with these moments or seasons? What does a believer of the Gospel do with depression?
“Like other issues of mental health, we don’t talk about depression. If we do, we either whisper as if the subject is scandalous or rebuke it as if it’s a sin. No wonder many of us don't seek help; for when we do, those who try to help only add to the shame of it all. How is it then that this preacher could stand up publicly in a congregation and talk so openly about depression? He was a megachurch pastor, one of the first ever. It was the 1800s. He was British, Victorian and Baptist. How was a guy like that talking so openly about a subject like this?” (Zack Eswine, Spurgeon’s Sorrows, page 19)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the famous preacher, struggled with deep bouts of depression. But rather than hiding this, he brought his pain into the light. What a joy it is when giants of the faith step into the battle of depression to lift up the weak and weary.
“I am the subject of depression of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to” (C.H. Spurgeon, “Joy and Peace in Believing”2)
Spurgeon mined the Scriptures for hope and filled his pulpit with Words of God that ministered to those in the pits of despair. In his book “Spurgeon’s Sorrows”, Zack Eswine does us the great favor of combing Spurgeon’s writings and sermons for his experiences, wisdom, and guidance on the topic of depression.
The book is divided into three parts:
- Trying to Understand Depression,
- Learning How to Help Those Who Suffer from Depression, and
- Learning Helps to Daily Cope with Depression.
Over the course of 143 pages, Eswine and Spurgeon untangle the knot of defining our internal struggles and lead us to Christ through Biblical truth and real, practical aids. Their personal experiences make them especially helpful in this cause. Their heart for suffering saints pours onto each page with realism, compassion, and hope.
“Some of you may be in great distress of mind, a distress out of which no fellow-creature can deliver you. You are poor nervous people at whom others often laugh. I can assure you that God will not laugh at you; he knows all about that sad complaint of yours, so I urge you to go to him, for the experience of many of us has taught us that “the Lord is gracious and full of compassion”” (C.H. Spurgeon, “Remembering God’s Works”3)
Eswine addresses both the sufferer and the caregiver, making this book useful to everyone, whatever their relationship to depression may be. This short work manages to tackle an incredibly difficult topic with power-packed brevity. This is not fluff or a placebo. Neither is it grit or “tough love”. Rather it brings us face to face with the Man of Sorrows who tenderly shepherds the broken-hearted, the One that our hearts desperately need.
“I write this book with prayerful hope that its few bits will likewise nourish you in His carrying. I want to help you get through. So, rather than an exhaustive word or prosaic treatise on depression, I rather hope that you can receive it as it is intended; the handwritten note of one who wishes you well. Such notes of grace I too have sorely needed” (Eswine, page 23)
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