When the Power of Depression is Upon You

Charles Spurgeon, the great pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, was well-acquainted with depression. When he was 22 years old, preaching to thousands of people at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall, a prankster yelled, “FIRE!” which caused a great panic. In the mob rush, seven people were killed. The young preacher never recovered from that tragedy. Depression settled into his heart.

At the age of 33, he suffered from Bright’s Disease, which caused burning and swelling in the kidneys. His body also hurt from gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and neuritis, which is pain and swelling in the nerves.

He never had a well day in his life from the age of 43 until the day of his death at 57. With all of his ailments and the pressures of a large and thriving ministry, Mr. Spurgeon battled depression. He one time said, “My spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for.”

Yet, Spurgeon found hope and victory. I want you to know, believer, that depression does not have to be permanent. Depression does not have to come to stay; it will come to pass. God has not forsaken you.

So, if you can relate to some or much of Spurgeon’s experiences, I thought it would be helpful to hear his own words on the subject.

The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary ministerial experience.

Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness. Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise amid overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints. Live by the day—ay, by the hour. Put no trust in frames and feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust in God alone, and lean not on the reeds of human help.

Be not surprised when friends fail you: it is a failing world. Never count upon immutability in man: inconstancy you may reckon upon without fear of disappointment. The disciples of Jesus forsook him; be not amazed if your adherents wander away to other teachers: as they were not your all when with you, all is not gone from you with their departure. Serve God with all your might while the candle is burning, and then when it goes out for a season, you will have the less to regret. Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord. Set small store by present rewards; be grateful for earnests by the way, but look for the recompensing joy hereafter. Continue, with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible result is before you. Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light: faith’s rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her Great Guide.

Between this and heaven there may be rougher weather yet, but it is all provided for by our covenant Head. In nothing let us be turned aside from the path which the divine call has urged us to pursue. Come fair or come foul, the pulpit is our watch-tower, and the ministry our warfare; be it ours, when we cannot see the face of our God, to trust under THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Minister’s Fainting Fits”

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