Sorry for the light blogging recently. Ever since I returned from Chicago, I've been battling a chest cold ... and not faring too well in the fight. I'm grateful, however, that I seem to be turning a corner and getting a bit better -- just in time for my first trip of the year up to the family cabin (click here to see some photos of last summer in the Crazy Mountains).
So, to give you ample reading material during my time away, here are some excerpts from Spiritual Depression, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I'm only on page 75, but I have been very impressed with this book so far. Dr. Jones is primarily addressing what he considers to be a grievous fact, that many Christians have a notable absence of joy in their lives. And this joy is precisely what should commend our faith to non-believers. Thus far, the things that he addresses are basics, like unbelief and not understanding the true nature of the Gospel. The book also reminds me of the small book by C.J. Mahaney, The Cross-Centered Life (an excellent - and fast - read; I wouldn't be surprised if Mahaney has read Spiritual Depression multiple times).
And now, without further ado, the book itself!
"Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's (Psalm 42:5,11) treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul?' he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: 'Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.' ... You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: 'Why art thou cast down' - what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn yourself on, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: 'Hope thou in God' - instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: 'I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.'" (p. 20-1)
"It may sound paradoxical - the term does not matter - but beyond any question taht is the rule, and there are no exceptions. you must be made miserable before you can know true Christian joy. Indeed the real trouble with the miserable Christian is that he has never been made truly miserable because of conviction of sin. He has by-passed the essential preliminary to joy, he has been assuming something that he has no right to assume." (28)
"The gospel is not something partial or piecemeal: it takes in the whole life, the whole of history, the whole world. It tells about the creation and the final judgment and everything in between. It is a complete, whoel view of life, and many are unhappy in the Christian life because they have never realized that this way of life caters for the whole of man's life and covers every eventuality in his experience. There is no aspect of life but that the gospel has something to say about it." (55-6)
"You and I - and to me this is one of the great discoveries of the Christian life; I shall never forget the release which realizing this for the first time brought to me - you and I must never look at our past lives; we must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Christ Jesus. I challenge you to do that. If you look at your past and are depressed by it, if as a result you are feeling miserable as a Christian, you must do what Paul did. 'I was a blasphemer,' he said, but he did not stop at that. Does he then say: 'I am unworthy to be a preacher of the gospel'? In fact he says the exact opposite: 'I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who hath enabled me, for taht He countedme faithful putting me into the ministry, etc.'. When Paul looks at his past and sees his sin he does not say in a corner and say: 'I am not fit to be a Christian, I have done such terrible things.' Not at all. What it does to him, its effect upon him, is to make him praise God. He glories in grace and says: 'And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (75).