I’m frequently asked, “What books should I read?” If you’re interested in deepening your understanding of Christianity, with a focus on practical application for daily life, read Charles H. Spurgeon. Charles Spurgeon is one of my all-time favorite pastors and authors.
Who was Spurgeon?
He was one of the most influential Baptist pastors of all time and a study in contrasts. He didn’t have a college or seminary education, yet he was incredibly well-informed and an intellectual powerhouse. He was extremely popular as a pastor and preacher, yet he was expelled by the Baptist denomination. He pastored in the late 1800s in London, yet his message is relevant and powerful for modern day life. His ministry was vibrant and incredibly productive, yet he suffered from debilitating illness and depression.
Why do you need to get to know Spurgeon?
Christians and non-Christians alike attacked Spurgeon, but he remained faithful to his calling. Although he suffered from rheumatism, gout, and Bright’s disease, he not only learned to trust God during his illness and with his pain, but he also taught other Christians how to learn and grow through their pain. Do you suffer with depression? Spurgeon did too and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it. He wrote,
I know that wise brethren say, “You should not give way to feelings of depression.” If those who blame quite so furiously could once know what depression is, they would think it cruel to scatter blame where comfort is needed. There are experiences of the children of God which are full of spiritual darkness; and I am almost persuaded that those of God’s servants who have been most highly favoured have, nevertheless, suffered more times of darkness than others.
The covenant is never known to Abraham so well as when a horror of great darkness comes over him, and then he sees the shining lamp moving between the pieces of the sacrifice. A greater than Abraham was early led of the Spirit into the wilderness, and yet again ere He closed His life He was sorrowful and very heavy in the garden.
No sin is necessarily connected with sorrow of heart, for Jesus Christ our Lord once said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” There was no sin in Him, and consequently none in His deep depression.
I would, therefore, try to cheer any brother who is sad, for his sadness is not necessarily blameworthy. If his downcast spirit arises from unbelief, let him flog himself, and cry to God to be delivered from it; but if the soul is sighing—“though he slay me, yet will I trust in him”—its being slain is not a fault.
The way of sorrow is not the way of sin, but a hallowed road sanctified by the prayers of myriads of pilgrims now with God—pilgrims who, passing through the valley of Baca [lit: of weeping], made it a well, the rain also filled the pools: of such it is written: “They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.”*
Spurgeon understood what it meant to be human and yet to live with a deep appreciation for the power of God to enable us to live victoriously over our many trials.
*Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1881, vol. 27, p. 1595.
DENNIS NEWKIRK | LEAD PASTOR | HENDERSON HILLS BAPTIST CHURCH