Christians in Despair and Depression, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #41)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress



TEXT: Psalm 77:1-12

1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

4 Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?

8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?

9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.

11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

Christians in Despair and Depression, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #41)

Recently, the names of several pastors who have committed suicide have been in the news. One of those pastors was a man by the name of Phil Lineberger who had struggled with depression for many years. He was 69 years old. Ironically, just four years ago, this pastor preached at the funeral of another pastor who committed suicide after a long struggle with depression. Terry Parker, Isaac Hunter, D.B. Antrim, Seth Oiler, Michael Mullis, and David Huskins are all pastors who have sadly committed suicide in recent months.

It seems as though with each passing week, we hear the news that someone else has taken their own life either because of depression or because of some kind of mental disorder. For example, comedian Robert Williams, wrestler Sean O’Haire, singer and Voice contestant Anthony Riley, Arizona high school track star Marcus Wheeler, actor Sawyer Sweeten, Missouri state auditor Tom Schweich, and multimillionaire hedge fund manager Robert W. Wilson. These are just some names you might recognize.

The topic of depression has gained much attention in the church due to the number of Christians, and, yes, even pastors, who have admitted to struggling with it. Some would say that Christians are not supposed to struggle with depression, but it is a fact of life. One writer calls depression “the common cold of emotional disorders.” In the classic book, Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan, two of the main characters, Christian and Hopeful, struggle with a period of depression on their way to the Celestial City. As you know, from our last set of sermons in this series, Christian and Hopeful had left the straight and narrow way and had wandered onto another path that appeared to run parallel to the Heavenly road, but actually led them astray. When they realized their error, they tried to go back, but a violent storm arose and they were forced to take shelter in a nearby field. The following morning, when the storm passed, Christian and Hopeful were about to go on their way, when they were accosted by Giant Despair. Giant Despair owned the land that they had spent the night in, and he was out checking for damage from the storm when he discovered the two pilgrims. He seized them, accused them of trespassing on his land, and threw them into the dungeon of his castle. And that is where Christian and Hopeful fell into a period of depression and despair. Listen as John Bunyan describes it:

In the dungeon they lay, from Wednesday morning until Saturday night, without receiving one bit of bread, a drop of drink, any light whatsoever, or even someone to ask how they were. Therefore they found themselves in an evil situation while being far from friends and acquaintances. So in this place, Christian’s sorrow was multiplied because it was on account of his hasty advice that they had been brought into this distressing state of affairs.

And when the Giant arose, having obtained a fearful crab-tree cudgel [club], he went down to the prisoners in their dungeon and began to beat them as if they were dogs, even though they never responded with any disrespect. Then the Giant lay into them with his cudgel most fiercely, so beating them that they were unable to protect themselves or even move on the floor. This done, he left them there to commiserate in their great distress and mourn over their calamity. So for the rest of that day they did nothing else but offer sighs and bitter lamentations.

The next morning he went to the dungeon with a bad-tempered manner as before; on noticing that the prisoners were very sore on account of their previous beating, the Giant told them that since they would never be released from their bondage, the only alternative way of escape was for them to commit suicide using either a knife, a noose, or poison. “For why,” said he, “should you continue to choose life seeing that it is filled with so much bitterness?”

[When the Giant had left, Christian said to Hopeful], “My brother, what shall we do? The life that we now live is miserable. For my part, I do not know whether it is best for us to live as we are, or to die at our own hand. My soul chooses strangling rather than life, and the grave appears more desirable than this dungeon. Shall we accept the Giant’s advice?”

Many great servants of God have been afflicted with depression and have even wished to die. Job was a blameless and upright man who was brought low by unimaginable loss and pain. He lamented, “My days come to an end without hope; my eye will never again see anything good.” Moses, the man of God who led the children of Israel out of Egypt, got so frustrated by the people’s complaining and ingratitude that he prayed in Numbers 11, “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me… Kill me, I pray thee, out of hand [that means immediately], if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.” We are familiar with the story of Elijah, who, after a great victory for God on Mount Carmel, “requested for himself that he might die.” He was tired of being on the run from Queen Jezebel who had vowed to kill him before sundown that day. Numerous times, we have gone to the Psalms and have read the laments of despair and disappointment from King David, a man after God’s own heart. Jonah, another of God’s prophets, told God, “Oh Lord, take I beseech thee my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” These were all good men, men who loved God and tried to serve God, and yet they found themselves in despondency, despair, and depression — even to the point that they wanted to die. If it can happen to them, it can happen to any of us as Christians — and it apparently is happening to some of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.


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