CH Spurgeon is often noted as not only an extraordinary preacher but a pastor who had to deal with melancholy and depression. Some years ago I came across this wonderful ‘God-give remedy for melancholy’. (It was quoted by John Piper in his book, ‘Tested by Fire‘, in his short biography of the life of David Brainerd who had a massive struggle with depression.)
Spurgeon reminds his audience of the rich blessing of ‘Nature’. To the one dealing with melancholy…’Nature…is calling him to health and beckoning him to joy.’ Spurgeon continues with this beautiful description:
“He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy. A day’s breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours’ ramble in the beech woods’ umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive. A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best.”
I’ve pulled out Spurgeon’s ‘Lectures to my Students‘ to see what he wrote next and found these two lines:
“Heaviest the heart is in a heavy air, Ev’ry wind that rises blows away despair.”
I have had a search but have not located the source of this quote. It did lead me to this short article by Justin Taylor on The Gospel Coalition website which has more on Spurgeon’s faith battle with depression. The article also has four articles about the battle with depression.
In the meantime…remember, as Spurgeon urged his students, to get out and enjoy “the ferns and the rabbits, the streams and the trouts, the fir trees and the squirrels, the primroses and the violets, the farm-yard, the new-mown hay, and the fragrant hops…”
I might not get all of those…but I do love getting out before dawn, and riding around Centennial Park as the sun rises over the fog-shrouded lakes – an experience I was blessed to enjoy this past week. We’ve had so many days of rain here in Sydney this year, and so I felt doubly blessed to enjoy that early morning of sunshine and blue skies…and all the more to cap it off with cycling mates over a coffee in the fresh, crisp morning air. I find myself in full agreement with Sprugeon: it’s one great remedy to ‘sweep the cobwebs out and get some oxygen in’!
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heaves with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He give to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:7-11).