The author first looks at Jeremiah as an example of ministerial depression. He then discusses important factors in the development of experiencing depression as a pastor, and ends by looking at recovery from ministerial depression.

Source: The Banner of Truth, 1982. 8 pages.

Ministerial Depression

Depression is often acutely described in literature. Thus Shakespeare makes Hamlet say: 'I have of late — but wherefore I know not — lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory.'

Jack Dominian, a noted contemporary psychiatrist, writes:

'Depression refers first and foremost to mood. This may vary from feelings of slight sadness to utter misery and dejection. Secondly, it is used to bring together a variety of physical and psychological symptoms which together constitute a syndrome (the technical term for any collection of recognizable and repeatable symptoms). Finally, depression is used to indicate an illness which prevents the sufferer from functioning and requires active treatment to restore the body and mind to a state of health.Depression, p 8

Both Shakespeare and Dominian are, of course, describing depression in general. But what of ministerial depression? The adjective 'ministerial' is not used to suggest that ministers of the Gospel suffer from a special kind of depression which does not afflict other mortals. To take such a view would be to forget that they are men of like passions as others. But the fact is that ministers of the Gospel are, because of the nature of their calling, particularly prone to attacks of depression. Furthermore, the depression from which they can suffer has certain specific elements in it which entitles us to use the expression 'ministerial depression' to describe it.

Scripture itself holds out to us several instances of ministerial depression. Is not Elijah after Carmel a good example? Did he not suffer a reaction so severe that he fell into such despair that he longed for death to release him from it? (1 Kings 19:4). Was not Jonah so angry with his God and so full of pity for himself that he no longer wanted to live? (Jonah 4:3, 8, 9 — 'I am angry enough to die', v 9, NIV). Was not David so cast down by 'the oppression of the wicked' (Ps 55:3) that he cried out to God, 'Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest' (v 6) ? Above all others, it is to Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, that we turn for the classic example of ministerial depression recorded in the pages of Holy Writ.

1. Jeremiah – a Biblical Case-History of Ministerial Depression🔗

Jeremiah prophesied during the period when the dark night of God's judgment was fast descending upon Judah. The message he was given to declare was one of virtually unrelieved gloom. Besides building and planting he was called to root out, to pull down and destroy (1:10). Commissioned to announce judgment and call for repentance he was not even permitted to pray for the people of Judah (7:16). He had to tell them that their much-revered temple would be destroyed, meeting the same fate as had overtaken the shrine at Shiloh centuries earlier (7:4, 14). Deeply patriotic, yet so sure that catastrophe was imminent, he brought the wrath of the inhabitants of Jerusalem upon his head, by counselling submission to Babylon in order that they might escape the terrible carnage which they did experience when other counsels prevailed (25:9). A patriot, he appeared as a traitor; a man of intense sympathy and tenderness of heart, he was an outcast among his people; denied the company of a wife and the pleasure of children (16:1-2) because of impending disaster, and so an intensely lonely man, Jeremiah bursts out in complaints against the God who obliged him to be a prophet against his will (1:4-7).

Jeremiah reveals the cost of faithfulness in the inner anguish and depression from which he suffered. More than any other prophet he pours out his complaints to God in language of passionate intensity. While we understand it, we scarcely could bring ourselves to use it.

  1. The first thing that we should notice about Jeremiah's depression is the depth of it. It is clearly not occasional. It is deep and prolonged. So deep, indeed, that he curses the day he was born (20:14), and asks, 'Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?' (20:18, NIV). These are not a preacher's Monday morning 'blues'. They are the anguished cries of a deeply distressed prophet. This man is in the grip of a depression so deep that, in the words of Theo Laetsch, 'There is a complete blackout of God's love and grace and mercy' (Jeremiah p 178).
  2. In the second place, notice the intensity of his depression. Jeremiah is a man of ardent, emotional temperament. He feels things deeply. He is not cold and calculating. So his outbursts against God are passionate — so passionate that their language verges on the blasphemous. He accuses God of deception because he is so unhappy with his lot. He has stood firm against Pashur the priest (20:1); like a wall of brass he has not yielded an inch. But now in the solitude of his own house he pours out his heart to God. So intense is his feeling against his circumstances that he cries out against the God who ordained them.

    'I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long' (20:7-8, NIV). The intense pressure which grinds Jeremiah down — this man who longs for sympathy and appreciation but receives none — overwhelms him to such an extent that he charges God with having deceived him: 'O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed' (20:7, NIV).

    These words of Jeremiah are written not for imitation but for instruction. They tell us that ministerial depression can be so deep as to black out all sense of God or his love and grace. There are times when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We feel we are not in a tunnel but a tomb! And our anger, our frustration at the constant grinding pressures of the ministry can be such that, like Jeremiah, we become so full of self-pity that we start to take it out on God himself.

    There is something very profound here. Just as depressed people take out their anger on those nearest and dearest to them, so Jeremiah takes it out on the God he loves and serves. His charge of deceit is, of course, without foundation, for God had very definitely warned him of the trials which his ministry would bring upon him (1:18). And to accuse God who cannot lie of deceiving him is terrible indeed. But let us not be too quick to condemn Jeremiah, for in the furnace of the afflictions of our ministries, blasphemous thoughts do sometimes arise in our hearts against God. We, however, conceal what Jeremiah revealed. He is disgusted with his office and dissatisfied with his God. He wants to escape from the constant pressure upon him and so he cries out with passionate intensity against God.

    Jeremiah's experience should be a comfort to the depressed minister of the Gospel. For it shows him that he is not unique; and more — that a servant of God may sink so deeply into depression and utter such terrible words, yet not be cast off by his God. Satan would persuade us that Jeremiah must have committed the unpardonable sin, but such is the mercy of God that he made him the prophet 'par excellence' of the new covenant! (31:31-34). The prophet who knew such depression is the messenger of the God of hope. Yet he must repent and not utter 'worthless words'.
  3. Next, notice the way Jeremiah plunges from joy into the deepest gloom (15:18). At one moment he calls upon himself to praise God. In the next he says, 'Cursed be the day I was born!' (20:13-14). It seems as if for a moment the sun breaks through the enveloping fog. His heart is cheered. But then the fog wraps round him again and despair grips him once more.

    How true this is to the experience of some of God's servants! For weeks, or months may be, they have struggled into their pulpits, sunk in depression. Called to comfort their people they feel no comfort in their own souls. Then, suddenly, a ray of light has shone, and hope has revived. The depression has gone! But alas, only for a moment. Back they sink to become the more depressed, because for a brief while they had begun to taste that blessedness which once they knew when first they saw the Lord.

    This taste of what could be in the midst of what is tortures Jeremiah. So troubled is he that he asks God: 'Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?' (15:18). Is God going to turn out to be like a dried up wadi, that yields no water when it is most needed, in the burning heat of summer? In his depression, Jeremiah gives way to doubt, unbelief, despair. In God's presence there is no fulness of joy, for God is absent, hidden. The light of his countenance shines for an instant and is gone, and the darkness is thicker than ever. No wonder that God seems like 'a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails' (v 18).

    Let us notice that it is not that Jeremiah denies the existence of God in his depression. It is the sense of the absence of God that is his great problem. It is the fact that God holds him to his duty but denies him all enjoyment of his presence and seems to cause his pain to be unending (15:17).
  4. There is a further aspect to Jeremiah's depression which we ought to notice. This is the tension which exists between the demands of his prophetic office and his natural desires. Jeremiah did not want to be a prophet, yet God compelled him to be one (1:6-7). Sensitive soul that he was, he had to proclaim a message of impending calamity to a people who would not repent, but instead derided him (20:7b). Isolated from the people he loves by the hand of God upon him (15:17), accused of sedition when he had the deepest interests of the people at heart (38:4), he longs to escape from the vocation God has imposed upon him. He sees an easier life, away from the pressures of the prophetic office, and he longs for it. But God will not let him have his way. He binds Jeremiah to his office even though his whole being cries out for release from the intolerable burden he is obliged to bear. Listen to the words he pours out to God. Do they not express what ministers sometimes feel? 'Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name", his word is in my heart like a burning fire, shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot' (20:8-9).

    What tension is here! He proclaims a message which brings him nothing but insult and reproach. But when he tries to be silent in order to spare himself further criticism, God forces him to speak. He hates preaching, yet he must preach.

    Some of us at times have felt just like Jeremiah. We could wish ourselves a thousand miles away from our pulpits because of the constant criticism of our hearers. Yet to the pulpit we must go, worn down as we are, because God overpowers us and prevails (20:7). Once, like Jeremiah, there was a sweetness to the Word of God. We could say, 'When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight' (15:16). But now, maybe, there is no honey; only God's word in our heart like a burning fire (20:9). We long for some sympathy, some appreciation from our hearers. But we must go on proclaiming a message which they find unacceptable. And there is not a sign of repentance, not a glimmer of understanding, to cheer us in the dark, dark days. So Jeremiah's words evoke our sympathy: 'Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow...?' (20:18).
  5. Finally, we should notice Jeremiah's profound spiritual isolation. Perhaps there are no words in all his complaining to God which are as moving as these: 'I never sat in the company of revellers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation' (15:17). Denied the love and companionship of a wife (16:1-2) and the pleasure of children; belonging to no school of prophets with whom he could have some fellowship; misunderstood, maligned and persecuted by false prophets; accused of sedition when deeply patriotic — by the sovereign will of God he sat alone. And since Jeremiah's day many a minister of the gospel has had to do the same.

    ​These, then, are what seem to me to be the most important aspects in the ministerial depression of Jeremiah. It was both deep and intense, leading him to pour out his heart in passionate complaint to God. It was lit by occasional shafts of light, but these did not dispel his depression for long. He was torn apart by the demands of his prophetic office and his natural desires. He sat alone, having to endure a profound spiritual isolation from the people he loved.

2. Important Factors in the Development of Ministerial Depression🔗

In trying to understand ministerial depression it is necessary to analyse various factors which occur in ministers who suffer from it. Not all these factors occur in each particular case of ministerial depression, nor is equal weight to be given to each of them. A moment's reflection will surely persuade us that no two of us are exactly the same. Hence it follows that some factors will be more influential in some cases and less in others.

  1. First in the list must be the matter of temperament. It is generally agreed that it is a most important factor. Writing of spiritual depression in general, Dr Lloyd-Jones has stated that he would, without hesitation, put temperament as its most important general cause (Spiritual Depression, p 14). Temperament is not obliterated by the new birth. If a man is given to melancholy before his new birth he will be given to it afterwards. As Herbert Carson rightly observes, 'We do not acquire different facial features when we are born again, no more do we acquire a new temperament' (Facing Suffering, p 99). The new birth, introducing as it does the life of God into our souls, does give us hope. For now we begin to control our temperaments instead of being controlled by them.

    It is an observable fact that God in his wisdom calls into the ministry a not inconsiderable number of men of the introverted, introspective type of temperament. The introvert is usually a deeply sensitive person, often able to enter into the feelings of others. He has an aversion for everything superficial. Whatever he undertakes he does thoroughly. He combines a rich emotional life with deep reflective thinking. He is therefore, 'especially fitted for creative, intellectual work, both as an author and as a thinker', as O. Hallesby has pointed out (Temperament and the Christian Faith, p 41). He might have added that such men are also especially fitted to be pastors and preachers, when called by God into the ministry.

    Hallesby also points out that the melancholic often feels himself called to enter an idealized and particularly difficult life-work. 'Everyday life is too trivial for him. It falls short of his ideal. But in his dream life he pictures a calling, a life work that comes up to his standards. These standards have nothing to do with providing a livelihood or making a profit. On the contrary, his lifework must demand the utmost sacrifice, self-denial, and service' (ibid. p 50). The relevance of Hallesby's remarks to our subject is obvious. The ideals of such a man can be shattered in the hard reality of the daily life of a minister of the Word. And the experience can be so devastating that he sinks into a deep depression.
  2. Another factor is the physical one. There is, I think, a tendency for ministers to undervalue the influence that physical conditions have upon the soul. Taken up as we are with matters of the spirit we often forget that man is a unity of body and soul, and that the body interacts with the soul, and vice-versa. This can be illustrated in different ways. Spurgeon suffered a great deal from depression and it would appear that gout was its chief cause. I have known of a minister who suffered from depression for years, which was only alleviated when it was discovered that he had a malfunctioning thyroid gland. As ministers we are also all too prone to neglect regular exercise, for ours is a largely sedentary occupation. If we would feed our people with the finest of the wheat we must spend long hours in our studies. The result is that we can, if we neglect regular exercise, become sluggish and peculiarly liable to attacks of depression.

    Furthermore as ministers we are inclined to neglect the Sabbath principle. We labour hard on the Lord's day, so hard that often we are wrung out at the day's end, and so strung-up that we find difficulty in sleeping. Yet we have no day set aside for rest. So we suffer from the constant strain of over-work. Our physical energy is constantly depleted and not often renewed. We are the worst of Sabbath-breakers in the best of causes, with the result that we are not aware of the sinfulness of what we are doing — trying to be wiser than the loving Creator who gave us one day in seven to rest.

    Another aspect we must not neglect to mention is the widespread practice of preaching on holiday. Sometimes the motive is financial — the preaching fees help to pay for a holiday which we might not otherwise be able to afford. Sometimes we are simply weak. We are prevailed upon to preach when we should be resting and sitting under the Word ourselves. And so we do not return to our regular labours refreshed and reinvigorated.
  3. A third set of factors can be grouped under the general category of the pressures of the ministry.

    A very real pressure is that of loneliness. C. H. Spurgeon says; 'Our position in the church will conduce to this. A minister fully equipped for his work will usually be a spirit by himself, above, beyond and apart from others. The most loving of his people cannot enter into his peculiar thoughts, cares and temptations' (Lectures To My Students, First series, p 170). Many a faithful minister ploughs a lonely furrow. He may well have no spiritually-minded brother near to him to whom he can open his heart. Like Jeremiah he sits alone without a familiar friend in whom he can repose his confidences.

    Another pressure comes from a conscience which will not let him rest. There is always more to be done, always that extra visit, those few more pages to be read, that letter to be written. So the minister becomes a stranger to relaxation. He does not know what it is to 'rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him'. He becomes a prey to sleeplessness and his conscience gives him no rest. Utterly weary he drags himself each day to perform his spiritual duties. He forgets the wisdom and compassion of his Lord, when he said to his disciples, 'let us go into the desert and rest awhile'. Once more C. H. Spurgeon has some wise words for us to heed in this connection: 'The Master knows better than to exhaust his servants and quench the light of Israel. Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength. Look at the mower in the summer's day, with so much corn to cut down ere the sun sets. He pauses in his labour — is he a sluggard? He looks for his stone, and begins to draw it up and down his scythe ... is he wasting precious moments?' (ibid. p 174). And he adds: 'While we are in this tabernacle, we must every now and then cry halt, and serve the Lord by holy inaction and consecrated leisure. Let no tender conscience doubt the lawfulness of going out of harness for a while, but learn from the experience of others the necessity and duty of taking timely rest' (ibid. p 175).

    Yet another pressure comes from the demands of preaching itself. If preachers are conscientious in applying the Word of God to themselves before they preach it, they will soon become conscious of the corruptions of their hearts. And if they are not careful they can easily fall into deep depression. For Satan will come and insinuate: 'You preach on praying without ceasing and yet you pray so little yourself. You exhort people to bear their trials uncomplainingly and yet you moan at your trials. You tell people to rejoice in the Lord and you are cast down, and have been for weeks'. These darts stick, and they would soon bring us down altogether. To the servant of God whose conscience is sensitive, preaching can be sheer agony when Satan brings such charges.

    Early in his ministry Christmas Evans knew the kind of depression which arises from a deep sense of unworthiness exacerbated by a very tender conscience. Paxton Hood writes of him:

    "He thought himself a mass of ignorance and sin; he desired to preach, but he thought that such words as his must be useless to his hearers: then, as to the method of preaching, he was greatly troubled. He thought by committing his sermons to memory he forfeited the gift of the Holy Spirit, so he says he changed his method, took a text without any premeditation, and preached what occurred to him at the time: "But", he continues, "if it was bad before, it was worse now; so I thought God would have nothing to do with me as a preacher".

    "The young man was humbled; he entered every pulpit with dread; he thought that he was such an one that his mere appearance in the pulpit would be quite sufficient to becloud the hearts of his hearers, and to intercept the light from heaven. Then it seems he had no close friend to whom he could talk; he was afraid lest, if he laid bare the secrets of his heart, he would seem to be only a hypocrite; so he had to wrap up the bitter secrets of his soul in his own heart, and drink of his bitter cup alone."
    Paxton Hood: Christmas Evans — The preacher of Wild Wales, 1883, pp 52-3

    Pressure can also come upon a minister in his home and bring him into the Slough of Despond. A beloved wife is often sick. Susannah Spurgeon was never the same woman after the birth of her twin sons. A minister's wife may be given to depression. Like Carey's wife she may accuse him unjustly of bringing all kinds of distresses upon her and the family. Sometimes the help-meet is taken to heaven to leave behind a desolate shepherd. In his moving diary of bereavement, E. M. Blaiklock has this moving passage:

    "March 20, 1979, 'I think I tired myself too much last night, and I failed to sleep. Perhaps today has been a reaction — a veritable Vale of Tears. I gave two lectures at Bible College, and I think I taught and spoke without apparent stress. It was when I entered the empty house in the early afternoon that the desolations of life without her enveloped me like a shroud. If anyone ever reads this it will be perhaps to despise my frailty, rather than to understand how, after fifty-eight weeks, I can still sob and call to her. The grief will not abate, though in truth I have offered it to God for such an alchemy. What more must I learn? Dear God, if there are deeper lessons awaiting, let me learn them soon and depart." Kathleen —A Record of a Sorrow, p 53

Sometimes, alas, a man of God has married a woman who is no help-meet to him in the work, but rather the opposite. So at home he finds no sympathy. Sometimes a child brings such grief to the heart of a minister that he is cast into depression for a season.

There is yet another pressure which is, I think, especially real today. Many a godly minister feels it. He preaches faithfully and waters his sermons with much prayer. But he sees little fruit for his labours. However, not far away crowds flock to hear a man who claims a charismatic anointing of the Spirit. Our godly minister suspects that the work is superficial but if he ventures to suggest so he is either accused of envy of another's success or of quenching the Spirit. So he stays silent. Ere long some of his own flock leave him for the 'Spirit-filled' ministry which is available in the other church. Feeling an utter failure, hurt and bewildered, he looks within to search out that secret sin in his heart which is grieving the Spirit. He becomes thoroughly depressed, and if the depression goes on unchecked he often gives up the ministry in deep disillusionment.

3. Recovery of Ministerial Depression🔗

Space forbids that we do more than offer some pastoral counsels. These are not to be regarded as formulae which will automatically bring relief, for ministerial depression may often be as slow in lifting as it is in coming.

  1. If you suffer from a melancholic temperament learn to discipline it. When you feel yourself beginning to brood, centre your thoughts upon Christ. Meditate upon him. See him as he gives himself for others. Then you will be less absorbed in yourself and less inclined to pity yourself. Seek to bring every thought into captivity to Christ. And start to live in the real world. Make yourself a rule of life which is within your ability to keep to, so that you do not aim impossibly high. In this way you will overcome the paralysis with which depression will visit you otherwise.
  2. Do not be afraid to complain to God when you are depressed. David complained when his soul 'refused to be comforted' (Psalm 77:2). Only the last three lines of this psalm are a prayer — the rest is a complaint, although in the context of prayer! David complains of his distress. He pours out his heart to God about it (2b-3). He tells God just how he feels. He hides nothing. His view of God allows him to complain to God. He is not afraid that God will be offended if he tells him just how he feels.

    Perhaps it rather shocks us that David, like Jeremiah, complains to God. There may be two reasons why we feel shocked. First, because we may feel that our depression is not worthy of God's notice. We ought not to be depressed in any case, so we feel guilty of complaining. Moreover, we see God as too majestic and too remote to listen to our complaints. But what a mistake we make if we think like this! He is not a remote God. He feeds birds, clothes lilies, and marks the fall of the sparrow. And if He heard the 'prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears' which our Lord offered up to him in the days of his flesh (Hebrews 5:7), then surely he will hear our groans as well. He will not stop up his ears. He is not that kind of God.

    Then there may be a second reason why we do not complain to God in distress and depression. We may have been taught, like all good Englishmen, to keep a stiff upper lip — never to give way — always to keep our emotions under control. Here we make a profound mistake, for what we are really saying, if we think like this, is that we are self-sufficient; that we do not need to pour out our hearts to God, that we can get by without his help! David was wiser than we often are. He was not a Stoic. He did not bottle up his anguish inside of himself. No, he complained, he cried, he unburdened himself to his God. And in so doing he found his burden lifted.
  3. Remember the limitations of your bodily strength. If you are thoroughly tired in body (and therefore in mind as well) do not drive yourself on by sheer will-power. Do not be afraid to go to your church officers and tell them that you must have a rest from your ministerial labours. It is better to do this sooner rather than later, before you are prostrated for a lengthy period. Sometimes we do not go to our church officers because of pride. We do not like to think that we have come to the end of our tether, and we certainly do not want others to know that we have! And perhaps we carry more burdens than we need to, because we refuse to delegate responsibility to others. It would, I feel, also be good for both ministers and churches, if sabbatical leave were to be granted at regular intervals, as is the practice in a number of countries.
  4. Find a brother minister to whom you can open your heart. He may not live near you, but you can write. In former centuries godly ministers opened their hearts in letters. Why should you not do the same? Why 'sit alone', feeling utterly isolated, when you could have the benefit of godly counsel and informed intercession? On the other hand, in God's good providence, a minister in whom you can confide may live near to you. Take advantage of God's providence. Enter into a covenant to have regular converse on spiritual subjects. You will find that your soul will be refreshed.

    Do not let Satan isolate you from your brother ministers so that, Elijah-like, in your depression, you think that you are the only standard-bearer God has left on earth.
  5. Learn to live by faith. When we suffer from depression we often tend to forget the great truth of justification. We feel full of self-pity. And self-pity, did we but realize it, arises from self-justification. We have tried, and we have failed. So we pity ourselves. But what have we been trying to do? We have been trying to justify ourselves by works, and that is why we pity ourselves.

    Do we not say to ourselves that we have been faithful in prayer, in our preparation for preaching, in our pastoral visitation? And now look what we experience — constant pressure, lack of appreciation, depression, despair!

    Gerhard Ebeling has some penetrating remarks in connection with that tendency to justify ourselves by law which ever threatens to cut us off from living by faith in God's justifying righteousness. Writing of the law he says:

    "Instead of giving life, it kills. This is clearly only manifest when it drives a man to despair. But despair is merely the reverse aspect of blinded pride. And one is just as fatal to man as the other. The mad attempt to cope alone with oneself and the world, with one's failures and with death, and with the law in the whole violence of the force by which it calls into question man's whole being — that is, the attempt to justify oneself — invariably means, either in the form of an explicit atheist conflict with God, or in the religious disguise of a pious attempt to justify oneself, a refusal to be made dependant upon God.'' Luther - An Introduction to his Thought, p 137

    So when in our depression we pity ourselves we need to ask whether we have really learned to live by faith. For is not self-pity the child of self-justification? And does not the brother of self-pity, envy, come and worsen the situation by making us envy those whose lines have fallen in pleasant places?

    Then, again, consider the awareness of our ungodliness which threatens so often to drive us into deep depression. When this happens have we not forgotten that God justifies the ungodly? (Romans 4:5). Satan does indeed charge us with ungodliness, and so does conscience. But God has justified us (Romans 8:33). He has pronounced his verdict of acquittal once and for all. So then we must meet the charges brought against us and especially the charge that we are ungodly — as indeed we are — by pointing not to God's work in us but to his work for us. It is not to the degree of our sanctification that we must look, but to the completeness of God's justification. We must accept our acceptance in the Beloved. We must ever look in faith to the substitutionary death, the justifying resurrection, the glorious ascension, and the prevailing intercession of our Saviour (Romans 8:34). This is the way of joy. It is to look to God's work for us, outside of us.

    The ultimate antidote to ministerial depression is found in the justifying righteousness of Christ. In this we must always rest. In this we must live and this we must preach until we finish our course. We must preach out of our justification, sinning yet justified, as Luther puts it. We must leave our depressions and consign them to the depths of the sea, and say with John Newton:

    "Though sin would fill me with distress,
    The throne of grace I dare address,
    For Jesus is my righteousness.

    Though faint my prayers and cold my love,
    My steadfast hope shall not remove
    While Jesus intercedes above.

    Against me earth and hell combine,
    But on my side is power divine,
    Jesus is all, and He is mine."

    That is enough, and more than enough, to meet the slanders of Satan, the accusations of conscience, the weakness of the flesh and the jibes of the world.   

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.