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Luther and depression

June 24, 2011

John Henry Jowett, the renowned pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in New York City, and later Westminster Chapel in London, wrote to a friend in 1920, “You seem to imagine I have no ups and downs but just a level and lofty stretch of spiritual attainment with unbroken joy and equanimity. By no means! I am often perfectly wretched and everything appears most murky.”

Writing of Alexander Whyte, perhaps Scotland’s greatest preacher since John Knox, G. F. Barbour said, “Resolute as was Dr. Whyte’s character, he had seasons of deep depression regarding the results of his work in the pulpit or among his people.” John Knox said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and put an end to this miserable life.”

Adoniram Judson, the first foreign missionary from America, suffered from deep depression after the death of his wife Nancy. He said, “God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in Him, but I find Him not.” William Cowper, the author of the song There is a Fountain Filled With Blood suffered from severe depression all of his life. In fact, he spent eighteen months in an insane asylum and tried several times to take his own life.

Martin Luther was subject to such fits of darkness that he would hide himself away for days, and his family would remove all dangerous implements from the house for fear he would harm himself. In the midst of one of these times, his indomitable wife, Katharina, entered his room dressed in mourning clothes. Startled, Luther asked who had died. She replied that no one had, but from the way he was acting, she thought God had died!

Mattoon’s Treasures – Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from 2 Corinthians.


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