Depression is a painful experience. It can draw one into the depths of despair with the accompanying belief there is no way out of the fog and back into the light of day and happiness. Many suffer from depression and struggle to understand why they are experiencing this malady. Furthermore, those around them are often ill-prepared to be of assistance and there are even more who believe they are helping those in despair but in reality are merely making matters worse. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon was one quite familiar with depression and Zack Eswine, in his very helpful book Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer From Depression, examines the salient biblical advice of Spurgeon on the topic of depression.
Eswine divides his thoughts into three sections, each focused on addressing a specific aspect of depression. The first section provides the reader with valuable information with what depression looks like and what those who are suffering depression are feeling. The second section addresses means by which we can help those in depression, and the final section deals with helpful ways to cope with the daily struggle with depression so many face.
I truly appreciated the gentle way Eswine engages the topic of depression. It seems as if many take the approach of placing a clinical prescription or title to one’s depression, thinking that if that person takes the correct medicine, sees the correct psychiatrist, or pulls themselves up by their bootstraps, they can move forward from the doldrums of despair. If moving forward from depression were that easy, one would think everyone would be well on their way to happier times.
There are a number of important points Eswine notes, foremost the fact that suffering from depression is not a sin. There are many reasons why someone may be depressed, many of which I had no clue about. It is very important for those suffering from depression to realize what they are going through is not a sinful act, although one’s reaction to that situation could result in sinful behavior.
Of further note is those who are in a state of depression are not alone. Eswine shares the fact that many great men of God went through periods of depression in their lives to include King David, Martin Luther, and of course Charles Spurgeon. When one looks at how these men of God dealt with depression, it is clear they looked to the pages of Scripture for assistance. Eswine reminds the reader that in the Psalms, we find King David describing what depression and despair looked like for him.
Most importantly, our Savior Jesus Christ went through the depths of despair. For anyone dealing with depression, this is perhaps the greatest truth to grasp. Moreover, that reality is also important for those helping those around them who in a state of depression to understand. Tossing around a future hope of a time when sin and death and pain are no more, while indeed an absolute biblical truth, often does not help in the here and now of despair. Eswine aptly notes that “when we search for someone, anyone, to know what it means to walk in our shoes, Jesus emerges as the preeminent and truest companion for our afflictions.” Spurgeon also affirmed a similar approach, stating “the afflicted do not so much look for comfort to Christ as he will come a second time…as to Christ as he came the first time, a weary man and full of woes”, the man of sorrows.
When those in depression look to Christ as that man of sorrows, who endured what they are enduring and who is at every moment comforting and making intercession for us, that knowledge places the issue of depression within the grander scheme of God’s plan. As Eswine so rightly avers, the feeling of remoteness from God is lessened and the depressed begin to understand that God cares and our affliction though tiresome, is not a burden we have to carry alone.
Eswine also deals with the issue of suicide, a choice far too many believe is the only solution to getting out of the state of depression. This is a difficult topic and Eswine addresses it with both grace and firmness. Again looking at the life of Spurgeon, Eswine comments that even Spurgeon “knew this desire for death. He found language for it in the story of Job whose profound description of misery not only reveals why in our afflictions of body and mind we would want to die but also the manifest mercy of God who would inspire such grief words and call them Scripture.” Those who feel like taking their own life need to read the salient statement by Eswine that “a larger story exists in Jesus. In time, even hope demolished can become hope rebuilt, if it is realistic and rooted, not just in the cross and empty tomb but also in the garden and the sweat-like blood.”
I highly recommend this book for all believers. The wisdom examined by Eswine from the pen of Charles Spurgeon regarding depression is outstanding and will greatly help those suffering from this issue to begin to grab hold of Jesus who suffered as we did, even to the point of death on a cross. I know I learned much about depression and how to help those suffering from this pain in their life. Look to the man of sorrows for He cares for you. That was the approach Spurgeon took and it is the correct one.
This book is available for purchase from Christian Focus Publications by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Christian Focus Publications for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”