The second sermon in the Leading Emotions series is available at our church web site. If you struggle to lead your emotions, you might listen to both sermons in this series that are now available. A brief overview of the sermon is below.
The central thought was that those struggling with spiritual depression must find their way through the dark valley of depression by way of biblical analysis and an experience of Christ.
Per Lloyd-Jones, spiritual depression was defined as “sadness of the soul.” I again stressed that medical causes may well be at work and that I am not a physician!
Lincoln struggled terribly with depression. He once wrote:
I am now the most miserable man living,” he sighed. “If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better.
The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, also struggled with depression. After false accusations in ministry, the deacons at the church where Spurgeon pastored reported:
You are anxious to hear about our poor pastor – – he is very bad. Very bad I say, not from any injuries or bruises he has received, but from the extreme tension on his nerves and his great anxiety. So bad is he that we were fearful for his mind this morning. Under these circumstances only one thing could be done – – that is to send him into the country away from the scene.
The causes of depression are widely varied.
Four points were made from Psalm 42:
- Only Christ satisfies the needs of our soul (though we often idolize other things such as children and believe they will satisfy). Does the use of your time indicate that you believe only Christ will satisfy the thirst of your soul?
- The way through depression is a journey. In his recommended book on depression, Ed Welch wrote: You will encounter a number of images in the coming chapters, such as darkness or light, numbness or vitality, and surrender or waging battle. Most prominent will be the journey of a pilgrim. Whether we sense it or not, we are walking a path that always confronts us with a choice. Each day we stand at a crossroads and make decisions of significant consequence. The idea of heading out on a trek is not a pleasing thought when you are depressed, but at least you are in good company, which should offer some comfort. Beginning with Abraham, God has called people to leave a familiar place, set out in a new direction, put the past behind, face unknown hazards, get to a point of desperation, call out for help, and look forward to something (or someone) better.
- We must stop listening to ourselves and start talking. The heart of the solution must be, as Lloyd-Jones preached, to stop listening to our emotions which cut us like knives, and to determine to put our hope in Christ. Of course, this is easier said than done and we will spend time in our next sermon with practical instruction on this point. When guilt flies at you, put your hope in the grace of Christ. When doubts assault, remember that God is sovereign! When it seems as though mistakes are to great to recover from, remember that a New Earth awaits. Put your hope in Christ.
- Recognize that emotional problems require emotional solutions. As we seek to put our hope in Christ, Christ-centered music and worship must be a central part of our strategy. Notice how Psalm 42 features “soul solutions” in its imagery.
Emotional problems require emotional solutions. We must absorb ourselves in Christ centered music and nature – – we need the smell of apple pie more than more thought about ourselves.