Sunday, June 28, 2009

REVIEW: "I Trust When Dark My Road" by Todd A. Peperkorn

The topic of depression can be contentious in Christian circles. Numerous Christians believe that their brothers and sisters in Christ have no business being depressed, that if we just had more faith, we would never have to worry about depression . . . or fear, doubt, pain, anxiety, grief, or anything else. More than that, many Christians and even many pastors believe that pastors have no business showing any sort of weakness.

Into this atmosphere and culture steps Pastor Todd Peperkorn, Pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with his timely and important book, I Trust When Dark My Road. Pastor Peperkorn shares the account of his own struggles with depression and its physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ramifications for himself, his family and his congregation. He takes us on the journey from pride and accomplishment, through sturggles to keep up appearances and ultimately his inability to fake it any longer, into diagnosis and treatment and the reality that he will struggle with this for the rest of his earthly life.

Considering the stigma attached to pastors who show any sign of weakness or difficulty, writing this book under his own name and sharing his own story was especially courageous. Pastor Peperkorn did the Church a great service in sharing his story. We Christians need to get past the antiquated notion that mental illness--and most weaknesses, for that matter--are in and of themselves signs that a pastor is unfit for the Office of the Holy Ministry. As St. Paul writes concerning the thorn in his flesh (and which Pastor Peperkorn quotes in his book):
So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 2:7-10, ESV).

I highly recommend this book to both pastors and laypeople. As a pastor, it's important to recognize that you are not some sort of superman, and Pastor Peperkorn points his readers toward helpful resources in recognizing and dealing with depression. For laypeople, this book is a poignant reminder that your pastor is a fellow brother in Christ and a fellow sinner who faces the same struggles and frustrations and even illnesses as you do. He needs you love, your understanding, and especially your prayers.

Thanks be to God for Pastor Peperkorn and this fine new resource!


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