Six years ago, you said suicide made sense but it was not for you.
That scared the daylights out of me, but I'll leave that for another post.
However, today, on my day off, after two large funerals in one week...I have a gentleman who called me in deep sorrow and tears this morning. It's a long history but I'm spending my day putting together a plan with the local doctor and police officer to intervene if necessary. May he continue to talk. May he voluntarily get help. May he live through the weekend. And let it be known that he's scaring the daylights out of me.
O Lord, out of the depths I cry to you on behalf of this man and this congregation, do not count our iniquities against us but grant us forgiveness so that we may stand as our souls wait for the morning (Psalm 130) for Your mercies are new every morning (Lam 3) in the name of Jesus. Amen.
I thought, "That doesn't sound so bad." But I am clinically depressed and haven't read a complete book in over year, let alone analyze the content of one. Nor do I yet fully grasp what has been happening to me.
So I began digesting this hundred page gem - sentence by sentence and half chapter by half chapter - to completion.
My wife exclaimed after she read Chapter Two: The Place of the Family, "So that is what is happening to us!" Dad's growing anger and both emotional and physical withdrawal from her and our three children.
Through the fog of my depression, a new view of the last twenty-five years began to emerge. Teenage depression in the 1980's triggered by divorcing parents. The severe recurrence of that depression while cutting my teeth as a pastor on the foreign mission field in the 2000's. (But, hey, the 1990's weren't so bad:) Anyway, the Reverend Pepperkorn's description of his descent into mental illness is helping me become aware of my own descent into that "ghastly landscape called clinical depression" as described in the introduction by Dr. Beverly Yahnke.
Chapter One addresses the Build Up to the Fall. Chapter Three reviews The Early Signs That Things Were Wrong. The fear of anti-depressant medication is discussed in Chapter Four: The Pill That Marked Me. The rest of the book describes one husband/dad/pastor's journey to a healing that most depressed people never experience due to nothing but a crushing fear that has the capacity to suck the life-breath out of you. In fact, suicide is the topic in Chapter Nine: Thinking the Unthinkable.
The take home message is that Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, does not forsake His people. He is near you. His death is for you. He provides doctors, psychologists, pastors, family and friends to deliver His care and cure to you.
Are you the spouse or friend of a mentally ill soul? Read Appendix 1: What to do if a loved one suffers depression.
Are you a pastor without a pastor? Read the Addendum by the Rev. Dr. Harold Senkbeil to help you find a pastor to speak God's grace into your situation.
I encourage you to read this book.
Thank you to the Reverend Todd Pepperkorn for writing this book.
Thank you to the Reverend Matthew Harrison for bringing this book to publication through LCMS World Relief and Human Care of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
New neighbors moved in across the street! You met them last night. He is a pastor for one of the rural churches. He and his wife have four children ages 14, 12, 10, and 8.
My children ages 10, 6, and 4 are very excited. My ten year old son is lonely. As I learn more about my illness I see many of the same signs in him (I'll leave that for another post). Maybe my son will click with the ten and twelve year olds across the street.
My daughter woke up early this morning. She wanted to visit them but knew it was too early to knock on their door. She said, "They need their rest from traveling from so far away."
Then she said the funniest thing. (Background: our family lived in Asia but have been back a few years). Anyway, my daughter said, "Well, they couldn't have traveled to0 far." I asked, "Why?" And she said, "Because they speak our language!"
Lord, you are our Good Shepherd. You have provided much for me over the past year as I began to be diagnosed with major depression. As the fog begins to lift I see pain in my family. Care for them. And thank you for them. In Christ, Amen.
You became a runner last year. Partly to help you sleep and partly to prove to yourself that you could do it. You chalked up two half-marathons and it had a lot of helpful benefits. Improved mood, less insomnia, and lower cholesterol. All from running (very slowly) three times per week.
I recently learned about the benefits of anti-depressant behavior, such as running or walking. It's not the particular exercise that is important but increasing your heart rate to 70% of maximum a half hour per day.
Problem is ... I don't like exercising every day. I'm beginning to think of it as a needed part of my soul care. Like an anti-depressant medication, anti-depressant behavior is part of that care.
Lord, help me to slow down and make this a daily (or more frequent) priority.
Today the cross of Christ's congregation is heavily resting upon me and our elders. The Lord's people need a shepherd. I would prefer not to be that person right now, but I have been called by God through this congregation to serve His people with His gifts.
I'm looking at 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 2 which states:
"To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul addressed the people as saints! The congregation had many and various problems and sins BUT they are addressed as saints for the sake of Jesus Christ who shed His blood for them.
The people of the congregation at which I serve are also saints who call on the name of Jesus Christ.
May Christ and His gifts be the focus of tonights meeting for the benefit of all His saints congregated in this place.
O my soul, your medical doctor is prescribing an anti-depressant. Yet you say you are afraid of addiction?
But are you afraid of addiction to your breakfast or a snack? Are you afraid of addiction to your daily vitamin? Your doctor is advising you to help you. It may be a missing nutrient your body needs. Your doctor (not you) is prescribing it to care for you.
O my soul, I see you found a Father-Confessor to listen to you. The ear of an ordained confessional Lutheran pastor is the tomb for your sin. The mouth of the same is the mouth of the Gospel for you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
I am a Lutheran pastor recently diagnosed with clinical depression. This is an account of my soul's journey to healing.
What is a soul? You do not have a soul, rather you are a soul. You are a soul enfleshed with body, emotion, and mind. All of you is your soul.
The red heart with a black cross at the center should remind us that the righteous live by faith in the Crucified One. The heart rests in a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. The rose is white, not red, because white is the color of the heavenly spirits and angels. The white rose stands in a field of blue, the color of heaven, to show that joy in the spirit and in faith in this life is only the beginning of future heavenly joy. Surrounding the sky-blue field is a gold ring, to show that happiness and joy in heaven has no end, buts lasts forever, just as gold is the hightest, most noble and precious metal.