I 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.