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Review of Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

As I continue to read, I have begun to realize that it is very easy for me to read a book and then set it on the self. The problem is that when I set the book on the shelf, I tend to set its content there as well and not give it the continued consideration that it often deserves. So in an effort to help myself remember better the truths presented, I have decided to write reviews of each book I read from here on out. I will post them here on this blog as well for those who are interested in such matters.

In today’s society it is not uncommon for people to be depressed. In fast, any one with common sense will realize that being depressed or being down is a normal part of life. But what about people that always seem to be depressed, who cannot seem to find any form of happiness. Modern society has come to the point that rather than deal with the issues that underlie depression, people seek to deal with it by medicating themselves. In Spiritual Depression, Lloyd-Jones attempts to highlight a variety of causes that may cause depression. Ironically, they are all traced back to lack of faith or a lack of understanding about what God has revealed about us or about Himself. As Lloyd-Jones express it:

“The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to say to your soul; ‘Why are thou cast down’ — what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, 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 donethat, 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'” (21)

However, if you are anything like me you realize that sometimes you are blinded to what is causing the depression in the first place. While it is easy to say that depression is ultimately the result of us thinking we deserve something that we don’t, of having unmet expectations, and of being unwilling to submit our wills to God, it is sometimes hard to pin point the exact area in which we are doubting God.

As Lloyd-Jones delves into various texts of scriptures, he shows from them various causes of depression and how the Christian is to deal with them. Some of the basic issues that he deals with in the course of the book include:

  • Confusing justification and sanctification

  • Dwelling on the past sins

  • Listening to feelings instead of listening to God

  • Failing to recognize discipline or trials in their proper light

  • Needing to learn contentment

  • The effects of bad/false teaching

While this list is not exhaustive, it hopefully gives you a quick glimpse of things to consider if you are struggling with depression. I hope that you and I can have the same kind of concern that Lloyd-Jones does about the testimony of our churches when they are seem to filled with joyless Christians.

“So often we give the impression that we are dejected and depressed; indeed, some would almost give the impression that to become a Christian means that you face many problems that never worried you before. So, looking superfically the man of the world comes to the conclusion that you find happier people outside the Church than inside the church. He is quite wrong, of course, but we must recognize that some of us at any rate have to plead guilty to the charge, that far too often because we suffer from spiritural depression, and are more or less miserable Christians, we grossly and grievously misrepresent the gospel of Redeeming Grace.’ (79)

So let us all take ourselves in hand and learn how to deal with our hearts in such a way that our testimonies and the testimonies of our churches makes known to those outside the church, that they are missing out on what really matters. That true and lasting happiness, true and lasting joy, can only be found by delighting ourselves in the Lord.

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Tim. 1:17)