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Depression is enormously common. So are other mental travails. Christians who are going through the valley of the shadow of death, as it were, should not think that these tribulations mean that there is something wrong with their faith or that God has cast them away. In fact, some of the greatest saints have gone through these dark nights of the soul; for example, Mother Teresa (a.k.a., St. Teresa of Calcutta), Martin Luther, C. F. W. Walther.
Lutheran Witness issue focuses on the theme of mental health, especially as it relates to pastoral ministry. It includes a remarkable letter from Walther, the founder and first president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. LCMS President Matthew Harrison translated it, as part of his fascinating and edifying collection of the writings of the early presidents of the church body, At Home in the House of My Father.
President - Harrison - Walther - Period - Depression
As President Harrison explains, Walther went through a period of depression and spiritual desolation that amounted to a complete breakdown. His congregation in St. Louis, to care for their pastor (other congregations, take note), gave him a sabbatical and sent him back to his homeland in Germany to recuperate.
Read the whole letter, which is moving both for the anguish it records and for the faith that nevertheless shines through the darkness. Here are some excerpts. The letter is to his congregation, dated 3 February 1860. From Walther’s Breakdown:
Half - Year - Times - Life - Office
I may and must now reveal to you that the last half of the previous year has been one of the most difficult times of my life. I was physically incapable of attending to even half the office that I am dignified to carry out among you in unworthy fashion. Even more, the prospect that I would again be capable of the same became gloomier and darker month by month....
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