Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zach Eswine [Book Review]

SpurgeonI read and sometimes cried through Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression. Why? Because my soul needed the words of comfort and encouragement from both the “Prince of Preachers” and the author Zach Eswine. Nuggets of truth that were a consolation to my downcast soul.

The author weaves his own thoughts with those of Charles Spurgeon who unashamedly shared his own struggles with depression during his lifetime. This darkness came upon him after a prankster yelled “Fire!” as he was preaching at Surrey Gardens Music Hall. The result left seven dead, twenty-eight seriously injured and a broken Spurgeon. He was twenty-one, newly married and a new father to twins.

In part one of the book the author begins by trying to help the reader understand depression. He walks us through the role of painful circumstances that Spurgeon addressed such as desertion, disappointment, defeat and guilt. Spurgeon wrote:

The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.

Biological and spiritual depression are also discussed. Spurgeon always exhorted one to fight, with scripture and prayer, through their depressed state. He chastised those pastors and lay people that thought a person should just get their act together and in my words “be happy.” In the author’s words:

Some things we never get over, we get through them or on with them, but not over them.

Part two addresses how one can help someone with depression. The author reminds us there is no “one size fits all” cure. Grace and sympathy are a good place to start. Ways that harm are trite and harsh words that demand an instant joy for the sufferer of depression. Also not judging as to why the sufferer is in the state they are. The author reminds us that Jesus was a man of sorrows and that the Bible tells us to weep with those who weep.

Part three examines ways to daily cope with depression. Spurgeon posted notes of God’s promises in his home. He carried a copy of a Promise Book in his pocket and would bring it out when anxiety increased. He prayed these promises to God and read the accounts of Moses, Elijah and Job who also suffered despair. He pursued humor and collected writings that would make him laugh. He also believed in quiet retreats where he found solace in nature and was an advocate for medication but the author points out it is unknown as to whether Spurgeon took any or not. Warm baths were also a help to him as well as his diet and fasting. The author shares Spurgeon’s thoughts on suicide and the folly of wanting to die.

The book concludes with Spurgeon’s eight benefits in sorrows. He testifies:

I have found that there is a sweetness in bitterness not to be found in honey; a safety with Christ in a storm which may be lost in a calm. It is good for me that I have been afflicted.  

I highly recommend this book for those who do not understand the mind of the depressed and for those who are experiencing depression. It is a book that gives hope to the downcast soul.

I received this book from Christian Focus Publications via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Letting Go to Give Away

cross

It’s the four letter word that makes most Christians roll their eyes.

“We don’t do that. That’s what Catholics do.”

Yes, I’m speaking of Lent. It is the 40 day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. The word means “spring” which makes me think of daffodils bursting forth from the ground and bare winter trees sprouting their first buds.

A new birth…

Prayer-filled tears of blood to “Your will not mine,” a crown of thorns that resulted in our crown of life and death on a cross followed by the empty tomb.

The old is gone…the new has come.

Lent is an opportunity for Christ-followers to remember the work of Christ on our behalf and to prepare our hearts for Resurrection Sunday.

The desire is a new lease on life, a view into the vast world of God, a deep breath and long look above the tree line of self-absorption. So in Lent we focus on getting away from the life of flesh and into the life of the Spirit, denying our ways and embracing God’s. The point of giving things up isn’t to be reminded of how much we miss them, but rather to be awakened to how much we miss God and long for his life-giving Spirit. This means, of course, that Lent isn’t only about giving up things. It’s also about adding things, God-things. -From Journey to the Cross Devotional Guide (free)

Call it something else if you like but don’t miss this opportunity to focus on Christ.

To wash someone’s feet as the humble servant washed the disciple’s feet.

To deny ourselves an earthly pleasure in remembrance of His laying down His life for our eternal pleasure.

So what am I doing?

I’m letting go of my Facebook feed for this time period, working on a project to give away and most of all having more alone time with God and His word.

And my heart’s cry is “Lord, resurrect my heart.”

Other Devotional Readings:

Love to the Uttermost by John Piper

Lent: Give Up, Get Low, Gain Christ

Weeping with Ezra

Woman reading bibleJanuary seems to always be the time that Bible reading plans make their appearance. There are numerous downloads, email sign ups and apps that are promoted to get God’s people into His word. Most are the read the Bible in a year programs. Forgive me all you one year Bible readers, but I was becoming bored with those plans. Then I came upon a blog post at The Gospel Coalition entitled “How to Change Your Mind” by Joe Carter.

His Bible reading program is easy to remember:

  1. Choose a book of the Bible.
  2. Read it in its entirety.
  3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.
  4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

Yes, that’s right, one reads a book of the Bible twenty times before moving on to another. He suggests you start with short books and move on to bigger ones later. I began the year with the Book of James because that is the women’s Bible study text that I am a part of. I can visualize my notes on the pages of James but more than that the Holy Spirit quickly brings James’ words to my mind when I am setting a forest on fire by my tongue.

Now I am in the book of Ezra. This is the currently the book my Pastor is preaching through. Before I continue let me be honest and say I tend to rush quickly through chapter two with all of its names. The reading of it was becoming routine. I was wondering if I would make twenty times or not. Then came the ninth reading of chapter nine. The holy race (Israel) had mixed itself with the peoples of the land. Ezra is appalled. He mourns, prays and weeps. Suddenly I feel his anguish at Israel’s faithlessness and I am weeping with him over my faithlessness and that of our country. I am there in the heavy rain with the people who are trembling because of God and their sin.

“The benefits of following this process should therefore be obvious. By fully immersing yourself into the text you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your understanding of each book and knowledge of the Bible as a whole.”

I figure it will take me three years to complete the Bible by reading this way but the fruit from it will hopefully last a lifetime.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. –Hebrews 4:12