A couple years ago, for the first time in my life, I found myself in a serious depression. I've written elsewhere on this blog (here, in one of my most-read posts) about some of the things that helped me escape that place. One of them was this book, by the great preacher Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, is comprised of twenty-one sermons originally preached in a series at Westminster Chapel in London. Dr. Lloyd-Jones calls upon both his pastoral calling and his prior medical career in these highly readable and surprisingly (for me, at least) helpful chapters. Amazingly (for the time when these words were spoken, and first published), Lloyd-Jones does not over-spiritualize the answers to depression. He grants that there are physical causes that lead to depression, but deals primarily with "spiritual depression," which he says can be overcome by applying Biblical truth.
One of the most helpful moments in the book to me was when the author, taking his example from the psalmist, who can be found "preaching" to his own soul, advised preaching to ourselves. He wrote, "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?....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, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: 'Why art thou cast down'--what business have you to be disquieted?....'Hope thou in God'--instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way" (pp. 20-21).
It should be obvious, of course, that for a person who is in the throes of clinical depression--as I was--this book by itself is no panacea. But together with proper diet and exercise, wise professional counseling, prayer, and other forms of treatment, it can be a great help. And not only for the person who is depressed; it is worthwhile reading for every God-loving soul...but particularly for those (like pastors) in the helping professions.