Today, I decided not to reinvent the wheel.
You have heard, and probably have used, that cliché. It means, “Don’t try something new when what you already have is working well.” Or, “Why take the time and energy to create something when you can’t improve on what someone else created.”
So I’m putting aside the outline of a new blog planned for today, and giving you a devotional from Charles Spurgeon that spoke volumes to me in relation to my despondency. It is a challenge that led to confession of the attitude I often display as a depression-prone person.
Before you read it, be aware that Spurgeon did not write this from the ivory tower, looking down on people who experience a mood that is foreign to him. To the contrary, articles, blogs, and at least one entire book have been written about Spurgeon’s own depression.**
My wife showed me today’s devotional (June 9) from “Morning and Evening by C H Spurgeon,” a free app she receives on her ipad. You can also obtain it in hardcover book form.
I’ve added a few questions for reflection, but I cannot add to Spurgeon’s message itself. The italics comprise his devotional in full.
“The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad” (Psalm 126:3).
Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has vouchsafed them.
But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state, will come forward joyously, and say, “I will speak, not about myself, but to the honor of my God. He has brought me up out of a horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings; and He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God” (Psalm 40:2-3).
“The Lord has done great things for me, and therefore, I am glad.”
Such an abstract experience as this is the very best that a child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and mournfully do we know this, but it is quite as true that we have an all-sufficient Savior, who overcomes these corruptions, and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond, and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has brought us “out to a place of abundance” (Psalm 66:12).
The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life song, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad” (Psalm 126:3).
Here is how the Holy Spirit questioned me:
*What negative thoughts or behaviors typically accompany an episode of depression in my life? (Will I confess each, and seek divine strength to overcome it?)
*What “great things” has the Lord done for me, reasons for gratitude in my life right now?
*During past episodes of depression, how did God’s Spirit minister to me and sustain me?
*What eternal good has come from my depression? (Desperate dependence on Christ? More prayer? An expanded ministry to others who hurt?)
My Closing Prayer
Father, enable me to apply Spurgeon’s words to my own life day by day. I cannot usually control the onset of a depressive episode, but I can control my attitude. When I’m downcast, curb my tendency for negativity and complaint. By Your grace, keep me from being cranky and edgy around my wife and son with whom I live. And remind me of all the reasons I have to be grateful, which far outnumber any reasons for complaining.
In the name of One who “felt very distressed and deeply grieved” (Mark 14:33-34); who prayed in the flesh to You, His Father, “with loud crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7); and who even felt forsaken by You (Mark 15:34), yet who endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2), Amen.
**If you are interested in reading about Spurgeon’s despondency, and his counsel to those who are depressed, get Zack Eswine’s book, Spurgeon’s Sorrows. I honestly believe that every pastor, whether or not he is depression-prone, should read Eswine’s book. Use the link below for a review of this book that I wrote last year, titled “The Outrageously Fruitful Ministry of a Depression-Prone Spiritual Giant.”
Though I use the same procedure each time, occasionally a link I insert into a blog doesn’t work. If that happens, go to my home page at penetratingthedarkness.com. Click on my blog archives (READ MY BLOG), and scroll back to the post on July 4, 2018.