About This Blog

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Spurgeon's Sorrows" (Zack Eswine)

TITLE: Spurgeon's Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression
AUTHOR: Zack Eswine
PUBLISHER: Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2014, (144 pages).

It takes one who has walked the journey to feel what it is, how it looks like, and what it takes to deal with it. Beginning with a tragic story of a hoax during an ordinary Sunday service that led to the death of seven people, readers learn how tough it was for the great prince of preachers to deal with. Where is the light in the midst of a long deep tunnel? Where is hope when there seems to be despair everywhere? How do we recognize spiritual depression and other forms of negative emotions? Sensing themes of depression from Spurgeon's sermons, Zack Eswine has compiled a list of Spurgeon's thoughts and experience on depression. The hope is that readers will be able to find some kind of hope as we travel with Eswine on searching out Spurgeon's thoughts on this subject matter.

Part One is dedicated to understand what depression is all about. It is a road to sorrow, of anguish and helplessness, and how strength is needed to overcome the arduous journey. Many things can spur depression; like desertion, bereavement, loss of jobs, disappointment and defeat; and guilt. Internally, there is that state of melancholy that traps people into constant fear. By recognizing depression as a condition that is not always curable, comfort is often more appropriate than cure. For Spurgeon, spiritual depression is the worst kind because it is a combination of circumstantial, biological, and spiritual factors. Even as Eswine highlights the spiritual vulnerability, he helps point us to the way of faith, and not to let depression go on a feeding frenzy but to submit to the lordship of Jesus.

Part Two is for caregivers and those called to serve by comforting and walking with people with depression. Mere diagnosis is no cure but it helps the mental recovery process. It is hard to diagnose because the true cause often remains hidden. People sometimes find difficulty in finding the right words to describe it. Most importantly, every case of depression is unique, so there is no one-size-fits-all method. Brief tips include:
  • Diagnosis alone doesn't cure
  • Find words, metaphors, languages or images to precisely name the feeling
  • Use poetry
  • Recognize the unhelpful ways of coping and NOT use them
  • Learn to care
  • Remember that Jesus Himself had walked through the pain of suffering and depression
Two things are really comforting. First, to know that the deeper one falls, the deeper the grace that accompanies. Second, no matter the cause, grace reaches out.

Part Three comprises practical tips for dealing with depression. Promises from the Word and Prayers from the people of God anchor ourselves in God. Natural helps like laughter quietness, retreats, medication, teachings, or a good bath can be therapeutic. Eswine deals with the topic of suicide carefully saying that on the one hand, one can acknowledge the legitimate feeling of desiring death. On the other hand, one can also expose the folly of such decisions. Using Scripture again, one can choose life, like in 1 Corinthians 2:9. Finally, not all sorrows are bad per se. We can use them as opportunities to seek God for greater understanding. Some lessons can only be learned through the pathway of sorrow and depression.
  • Resisting simplistic views of what it means to mature in Christ.
  • Deepens our intimacy with God
  • Enables us to better receive blessings from God
  • Shed and shreds our pretenses
  • Exposes and roots out pride
  • Teaches us empathy for others
  • Allow little acts of kindness to become significant
  • Teaching us courage 
Eswine has put together a greatly comforting work that comprises of some of the most thoughtful and penetrating messages from Spurgeon about suffering and depression.  Just as it takes Spurgeon to have experienced depression to really talk about depression, Eswine himself is no stranger to this spiritual mood. Meant as a practical guide for people struggling with depression, Eswine has identified key points readers can learn from the prince of preachers. He helps us understand the seriousness of depression but does not let it have the final say. Instead, Eswine constantly brings readers back to Christ, which is exactly what we need when dealing with any form of spiritual depression. In Christ, we can diagnose holistically, that while we use the modern scientific techniques, we remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to shine the way ahead. Sometimes, it may take medication to clear out the dark shadows of despair caused by physical sorrow. More importantly, this book enables believers to be equipped and become more knowledgeable when handling cases of spiritual depression when it hits nearer home or within the community.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Christian Focus Publications and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment