Saturday, 6 September 2008


John Piper, in his book "Tested by Fire", give us some useful, compassionate and biblical reflections on the battle against depression - based on the life of William Cowper(see p.109ff). These are both useful for those who struggle with depression and for 'helpers' and friends who live alongside them.

1. We fortify ourselves against the dark hours of depression by cultivating a deep distrust of the certainties of despair. Despair is relentless in the certainties of his pessimism.

2. Love your children dearly (Cowper's family life was marked by an awful father).

3. Despair not of the despairing. Here he refers to Newton's constant care and concern for his friend William Cowper. Do not give up!

4. We need to practice the gift of self-forgetfulness. We are often best when we are not so aware of what we feel. Self-examination is needed but mental health is best when we are focused on worthy reality outside of ourselves. Self-forgetfulness and happiness are inextricably linked.

5. Escape and isolation are not an answer. Health nor holiness is had by escaping from the world and it sin.

6. Those of us who teach and preach should not limit ourselves to success stories. Hope can also be had by the looking at the struggles of a man such as William Cowper.

7. Let's rehearse the mercies of God often in the presence of discouraged people. Let's tell them of the cross often. Keep soaking people in the grace of God even though it seems to have little seeming effect.