I am currently reading through the book “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures” by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Martin Lloyd-Jones lived from 1899 to 1981. He started his career as a medical doctor but ended up spending over thirty years in pastoral ministry. All of his writing – but this book in particular – do an excellent job of diagnosing conditions of the soul with the care and expertise of a medical doctor.
Chapter fourteen addresses spiritual depression that is the result of being “weary in well doing.” The text that grounds this chapter is Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” In modern terminology, Martin Lloyd-Jones is addressing the topic of burnout – especially in regards to one’s faith and Christian life. I thought his observations were so excellent I wanted to distill the major aspects of the chapter on my blog – both for my own reminder and hopefully to help you as the reader.
First, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones begins by providing three “negatives” – three things NOT to do when weary and spiritually exhausted:
1. Do Not Give Up!
“There is a great temptation that comes at this point. You say: ‘I am weary and tired, the thing is too much for me.’ And there is nothing to say at this point but this negative – do not listen. You always have to start with these ‘don’ts’ on the very lowest level; and that is the lowest level. You must say to yourself: ‘Whatever happens I am going on’. You do not give in or give way.
2. Do Not Resign Yourself/Lose Hope!
“While there are people who hand in their resignations and say, ‘I am quitting’, that is not so with the majority. The danger of the majority at this point is just to resign themselves to it and to lose heart and to lose hope. They will go on, but they go on in this hopeless, dragging condition.”
3. Do Not Self-Medicate!
“Many a man has ended a drunkard who started by taking a little alcohol to help him to carry on; and people take to drugs and various other things in precisely the same way… I have seen people in the church dealing with this general spiritual weariness in that very way. They work up some kind of excitement or they adopt new methods… Can you not think of certain churches that are always putting out some fresh announcements or finding some new attraction? Such churches are obviously living on artificial stimulants and it’s all being done with this idea in mind.”
In the next blog post, we will look at the 5 activities the doctor prescribes to bring about healing and rest from this type of spiritual exhaustion. As always, if there is something I can be praying about for you, or if you simply need to talk, please reach out. You can leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org