Chronic pain and depression taught Joni Eareckson and Ken Tada to put each other’s needs first. Read the short interview here.
Posts Tagged ‘depression’
One line from the familiar hymn (which I enjoy singing) is “we should never be discouraged.” Is that true. Is it a sin or unspiritual to be discouraged?
Sinclair Ferguson writes,
From time to time over the centuries some Christians have taught, sometimes with tragic consequences, that a truly spiritual person never gets discouraged. To be cast down is, by definition, to be ‘unspiritual.’ Unless we are well-grounded in Scripture, it is very easy for us to be overwhelmed, confused, and even more discouraged by such teaching.
This teaching certainly seems logical: if the gospel saves us, it must save us from discouragement! It also appears to be wonderfully spiritual. After all, are we not ‘more than conquerors through him who loved us’ (Rom. 8:37)?
But. . . keep reading
In light of the suicide of a well-known pastor, Justin Taylor has assembled some helpful resources on the issue of depression, suicide and the church. I am not familiar with all those he references but here are links to two posts on this issue.
David Murray, an unusually wise teacher and the author of Christians Get Depressed Too, addresses 7 Questions about Suicide and Christians. He writes, “As well-publicized suicides tend to increase the suicide rate quite dramatically, I thought it would be good to address seven of the questions that arise in our minds at times like this.” Here are the seven questions he answers:
- How common is suicide?
- How do I know if someone is thinking about suicide?
- What should I do if I’m worried someone I know is going to commit suicide?
- Do Christians who commit suicide go to hell?
- Who is to blame?
- What if I’m thinking of suicide myself?
- What can the church do to prevent suicide?
See also Ed Welch’s wise counsel on how to answer the question, “Do People Who Commit Suicide Go to Heaven?”
Here are some resources on battling depression and ministering to those who do:
- David Murray, Christians Get Depressed Too
- Edward T. Welch, Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness
- Edward T. Welch, Depression: The Way Up When You Are Down (booklet)
- Jeffrey Black, Suicide: Understanding and Intervening (booklet)
- John Piper, When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy
- John Piper, “Battling the Unbelief of Despondency” (sermon)
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure
- “Depression and the Ministry” (blog series by the Biblical Counseling Coalition and the Gospel Coalition)
For those in ministry, the writings by and about Charles Spurgeon on depression may be particularly valuable:
- Charles Spurgeon, “The Minister’s Fainting Fits” in Lectures to My Students
- Darrel W. Amundsen, “The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon“
- Zack Eswine, “Listening for the Sound of Reality: The Melancholy of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Haddon Spurgeon“
- John Piper, “Charles Spurgeon: Preaching through Adversity“
- Randy Alcorn on how Spurgeon’s writings on depression helped him go through his own depression in 2007 (part 1, part 2, part 3)
Psalm 42 is one of those “go to” Psalms for me when I am down. In both Psalm 42 and 43 the psalmist asks himself, “Why are you downcast o my soul?” And he answers himself “Hope in God!” I love how this writer identifies his need and talks to himself.
Ernie Baker, a biblical counselor and a teacher at The Master’s College and Seminary, recently wrote about this psalm and how it gives comfort to the oppressed soul.
“As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you. You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship you.” This song is commonly sung without realizing that it is based on a Psalm describing intense suffering. The intense heat of life causes intense thirst that, if dealt with properly, will yield an increased satisfaction in God, who is the Living Water. The principles of Psalm 42-43 help sufferers by modeling how to articulate anguish of soul along with questions to God. The psalmist reminds himself of truth and every part of his being is addressed.
These two Psalms were probably originally one as indicated by each having the same repeated phrases, “Why are you in despair, O my soul” (42:5; 42:11; 43:5)? In these “chapters” we see the psalmist dealing with rejection by people, disappointment with circumstances, remembering how good things used to be, being mocked, feeling forgotten by God and trying to cope with a body and emotions that are feeling the impact of the pressures. Sounds like life. In the midst of this suffering he models how a godly person deals with suffering. But, there are some surprises along the way. These surprises will dispel some myths about what it means to be a godly person during suffering.
The ultimate hero of these chapters, though, is God. He is the God who is always present in the midst of suffering. He is the God of truth. The God of these Psalms has a sovereign design for suffering (and even plans it, see 42:7). He is full of lovingkindness. The psalmist has a personal and vibrant relationship with Him that could never be compared to false hopes. This God is completely trustworthy. By the way, what are you trusting in or hoping to deliver you during your suffering?
My hope is that you will realize that you need to store up good theology for days of suffering. We need to have a joy in the Lord that can be shaken by no pain in the hard times and competed with by no earthly pleasure in the good times. We would be honest to admit that the depth of our beliefs will be revealed during suffering. Another way to say it would be that your success during suffering will be proportion to the depth of your belief system and you choice to live it out.
Continue reading Dr. Baker’s article here.
Justin Taylor in the January 2013 edition of TableTalk:
“Even though Charles Spurgeon lived about two hundred years after John Bunyan, I think Spurgeon regarded Bunyan as a friend. He said the book he valued most, next to the Bible, was The Pilgrim’s Progress. “I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times. It is a volume of which I never seem to tire.”
Perhaps one of the reasons Spurgeon resonated with this classic was its realistic portrayal of depression, doubt, and despair. Spurgeon and Bunyan, like their Savior, were men of sorrow, acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). When Bunyan went to prison for preaching the gospel, his heart was almost broken “to pieces” for his young blind daughter, “who lay nearer my heart than all I had besides.” Spurgeon’s depression could be so debilitating that he could “weep by the hour like a child”—and not know why he was weeping. To fight this “causeless depression,” he said, was like fighting mist. It was a “shapeless, undefinable, yet all-beclouding hopelessness.” It felt, at times, like prison: “The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.”
Read the rest here.
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.”
(Psalm 22:22-24 ESV)
A lot of people will be battling depression and discouragement in the next several days or few months. Here are some resources if you find yourself doing so or if you are helping another person who is downcast.
Paul shares a number of recommended resources (books, booklets, DVD’s).
Ed Welch talks about depression in short clip
And here Dr. Welch talks the relationships of depression and redemption, medication, and Christ.
Did you know Charles Spurgeon, the great English Baptist preacher, battled with depression during his ministry? Who would have thought. From his own writings you can learn how he viewed such a trial here.
Most everyone at times has to battle discouragement and some are more prone to darkness and depression. Some even battle with what one biblical counselor calls “situational depression” and offers some counsel for ministering to a soul like this:
Situational depression is a type of depression triggered by adverse circumstances and differs from ordinary sadness in three ways.
First, situational depression has a greater duration than sadness. Whereas someone experiencing sadness usually rebounds within a few days, situational depression tends to last longer than two weeks at a time.
Second, situational depression has a greater depth than sadness. While sad people can generally function in their daily lives, situationally depressed individuals have a difficult time performing simple cognitive tasks and struggle to make what we might call “if/then” connections between behaviors and consequences.
Third, situational depression has a grimmer disposition than sadness. Sad people often maintain a fairly coherent view of themselves, others, and the future. In contrast, situationally depressed people examine their lives, relationships, and futures and see nothing but hopelessness. The biblical counselor who recognizes these signs would do well to minister Psalm 42-43 to the heart of the depressed person.
Read more of Todd Hardin’s “The A-B-C’s of Ministering to the Situationally Depressed Person.” It may help you or someone you love at this time of the year when many are prone to discouragement after the holiday season.
Did you know that great men like Abraham Lincoln and Charles Spurgeon suffered from depression?
Chris Brauns recently preached about spiritual depression.
Paul shared these four “R’s” that have helped him so much when he finds himself regressing into spiritual depression or deep discouragement.
Each one of these is briefly explained. If you are a Christian who struggles with depression (and there many out there) I think you will find this post “Ongoing Remedies for Spiritual Depression” very helpful.