Two weeks ago yesterday, Inland Hills Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein died in the hospital after trying taking his own life the night before. The pastor left behind three young children and his wife.
Thom Rainer wrote an article entitled, 5 reasons pastors get depressed (and why they don’t talk about it)
Many pastors really do struggle with depression. This is true today and it has been true throughout the history of the church. Many pastors had grappled with significant bouts of anxiety and fear. God’s men are clay pots indeed.
Most church members have no idea their pastor was depressed. They don’t know until they are awakened to the reality of some of the dramatic consequences of the depression: broken marriages; sexual affairs; resignation from ministry; and even suicide.
Too many pastors and people have been taught that depression is a sign of failure in ministry or in life, that it is something that must be hidden from view. Those are lies, blatant lies.
Depression is real with pastors. It is real with your brothers and sisters in Christ. It is real with Bethel Bible Church. It is real in our community. Psalm 142 indicates that depression was real to David. This is called a Maskil or Psalm of Instruction, I think because David’s experience is common to man. So it is not a question of if this happens, but when it happens
The Psalm is a prayer from a physical and emotional place of sorrow, suffering, hopelessness, and darkness. It was prayed and then later recorded by David, a man after God’s own heart. While not all of us may physically hide in a cave from those who would try to harm us, we ALL go through seasons where we emotionally are hiding, where we spiritually are in darkness, where our feelings tell us we are alone, and where we are confused in logical mazes. God desires to meet us in those places, not to tell us to just stop or to get over it but rather to display His mercy and grace to us in Christ and by His Spirit carry us through these experiences so that in the midst of tears and pain we will see His beauty and glory.
I. Head // Information
Key Words: Cry, Supplications – general and specific (logical arguments/complaints), Deliver me, Persecutors
Key Concepts: Suffering, Persecution,
Associated Doctrines: Prayer, Omniscience, Omnipotence, Providence, Incarnation showing the humanity/divinity of God
II. Heart // Transformation
Warming Truths: Our God knows us, Our God is Trustworthy, Our God is Able, Our God Rescues, Our God Delivers
Savored Thoughts: we share in David’s experiences…Implications to Invitations (to cry out, to complain, to sorrow, to fear, to be without hope, to question, to wonder, to argue, to be frustrated), Inferences to Respond (to speak, to talk, to yell, to find refuge, to trust, to be blessed, to live, to know, to be free, to trust)
You see the Gospel is realizing that you and I are sinners. Pastor David Furman writes, “We sit in a spiritual cave, a spiritual prison, bound helpless, awaiting the day when will receive the just punishment that we deserve. But the Good News, the Gospel, is that when you repent of your sin and trust Jesus to save you, Jesus goes to the cross in your place. He gets what you deserve and you get what He deserves. It is the great exchange. Jesus gives up his life so you can have life. 1stPeter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.”
Furman continues, “The great exchange means we can begin each day by reminding ourselves that though we suffer, we are sinners saved by grace. We can say things to ourselves such as:
Though I am ashamed as I contemplate my sinful past, as far as the east is from the west, that’s how far my sin is removed from me (Psalm 103:12)
Though I think there is no hope in this season of life, I will remember that there is now no condemnation for me in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
Though my trouble is overwhelming today, the cross shows me that because God is for me, who can be against me (Romans 8:31)?
Though the waves of my trials threaten to drown me, who will separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35)?
Though I can’t stop crying today, I know there is coming a day when Christ will be with us and he will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Death will no longer exist and all crying and anxiety will cease (Revelation 21:4).
Reminding ourselves of the great exchange of the Christ is as Martin Lloyd-Jones encourages us to preach the gospel to ourselves.
III. Hand // Action
A pastor named, Ryan Chase gives us some practical steps that we can take in the midst of suffering in order to persevere in faith?
1. Please don’t stop gathering with your church.
2. Don’t stop consuming God’s word.
3. Don’t stop asking for help.
4. Don’t stop clinging to God’s promises.
One pastor, John Starke says, “When I’ve gone through seasons of depression, feeling as if my life was wasted in sadness, this verse was a great comfort to me.” He as referring to Joel 2:25 where God states, “I will restore to you all the years that the locust has eaten.”
5. Don’t stop serving others.
6. Keep Looking to Jesus
Philip Ryken says, “The Son brings us to the Father and sets us on His lap. The Holy Spirit is the divine Whisperer who tells us that we will always be God’s special children. When we hear the Spirit’s whisper our hearts cry out to God, I love you Father.”
“Sleep well my friends, in the assurance that nothing can separate you from God’s love, alter your Father’s will for your life, take you from Jesus’ hand, or revoke your citizenship in heaven. You are beloved and you are his.” ~Pastor Scotty Smith