I had the opportunity to review Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine recently. I was excited about this for a few reasons. On the one hand, I’ve benefitted from Eswine’s previous work(s). Most notably, Sensing Jesus had a profound impact on me. On the other hand, though, I’ve always been intrigued by Charles Spurgeon. He was a young, restless, reformed pastor before it was cool. There’re not too many works that connect Spurgeon, depression and the reader. So, this volume proved to be an interesting pursuit.
I appreciated the breakdown and opening chapters to orient the reader to the idea of depression. By the way, the work is laid out in 3 big parts: 1) Trying to Understand Depression, 2) Learning How to Help Those Who Suffer from Depression and 3) Learning Helps to Daily Cope with Depression. It’s unfortunate to admit, but many in Christian circles don’t know where to begin or how to engage with someone who’s depressed. We respond in ways like, “Who sinned, this person or their parents?” And, this opening section unpacking how we understand depression is helpful to see where this comes through, all weaved through the preaching and experience of Spurgeon, a pastor in the 19th century.
The rest of the book is most practical: Learning How to Help Those Who Suffer from Depression (with Chapters entitled Diagnosis Doesn’t Cure, Language for our Sorrows, Helps That Harm and Jesus and Depression) as well as past three, Learning Helps to Daily Cope with Depression (and chapters on Promises and Prayers, Natural Helps, Suicide and Choosing Life and the Benefits of Sorrow). My big sweeping summary of these final two sections continues on the momentum I built in the first one. It’s much like this books helps all of us by helping us see that people suffer from depression, it’s not sin and here’s how you can be helped or come along those who need help.
All in all, what I’d say about this book is that pastors must read it. We, above all, need to be those who are characterized by grace. Understanding some of the deep heart hurt of people in new ways would be the benefit of this book (with an eye on practical help). Others (not pastors) would be helped as well in knowing and applying some help to those battling depression among us. So many lessons would emerge her for the reader. I would recommend Spurgeon’s Sorrows for your consideration for the good of others.