Spurgeon on Suffering Depression and Trials

Perhaps it isn’t commonly known that Charles Spurgeon suffered from depression. In his book, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, Michael Reeves notes that today he would most certainly be diagnosed as clinically depressed.

At age twenty-two he was the pastor of a large church and the father of twin babies. While he was preaching to thousands of people, some pranksters began yelling “fire.” They created a stampede killing seven people and severely injuring twenty-eight others. Reeves cites his wife Susannah,

My beloved’s anguish was so deep and violent, that reason seemed to totter in her throne, and we sometimes feared that he would never preach again.

According to Mike Reeves Spurgeon also suffered from burning kidney inflammation, gout, rheumatism and neuritis. He was also constantly assailed by opposition preachers who took a liberal view of God’s Word. See The Downgrade Controversy.

It may then surprise us that Spurgeon “was a man who crackled with life.” Apparently he also had a hearty sense of humor. And despite the many trials he bore, he saw them as necessary. Michael Reeves notes that, according to Spurgeon, “Uninterrupted success and unfading joy in it would be more than our weak heads could bear.”

I found this very encouraging – Reeves also notes that,

Thus he [Spurgeon] found, depression would often come over him before any period of special blessing on his ministry. Divine blessing would loom over him like a black cloud before breaking and yielding its shower of goodness. (Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 166)

King David also suffered from dire trials and depression. This comes out in Psalm 13 where he pleaded with God regarding concerns which overwhelmed him at the time. He was still able to express trust in God,

But I have trusted in your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

A Hymn based on Psalm 13 from Spurgeon’s Own Hymn Book:

How long wilt Thou forget me, Lord?
Must I forever mourn?
How long wilt Thou withdraw from me,
Oh, never to return?

O Hear! And to my longing eyes
Restore Thy wonted light;
Revive my soul, not let me sleep
In everlasting night.

Since I have always placed my trust
Beneath Thy mercy’s wing,
Thy saving health will come, and then
My heart with joy shall spring.

Then shall my song, with praise inspired,
To Thee, my God, ascend,
Who to Thy servant in distress
Such bounty didst extend.

(Tate and Brady, 1696)

Alf Cengia bio


Alf Cengia has a keen interest in politics (especially the Middle East), is a collector of books and dabbles in weight training. He is stepfather to Michelle, Sammy’s chief walker and his wife’s favorite coffee maker. He blogs at Zeteo316 and Thoughts on Eschatology.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Gotta get one of those hymnals. On the do list.

Fred Moritz's picture

Spurgeon wrote a chapter on "The Preacher's Fainting Fits."  It is in Lectures to My Students, Volume I; Lecture 11.

 

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