Recently I was asked to respond to a question on one of my favorite sites on the theology of the cross, He Remembers the Barren. Go check out the site and how I answered the question of when to talk to someone about depression. You may find it HERE.
I’m in a pretty good place, from a mental health point of view. I have an excellent counselor, my medication seems to be pretty stable, and I have a loving and supportive family and church. I haven’t found a father confessor that’s less than 100 miles from me yet, but otherwise I feel like all of the various pieces are as in place as they are likely to get. For this I am very thankful.
What always strikes me, as this day comes around, is how many there are who suffer with depression, despair, bipolar disorder, and so many other diseases and maladies both physical, emotional and spiritual. Just yesterday I was contacted by three different people about their trials with mental illness. I had only met one of them beforehand. Sadly, these sorts of days are not that uncommon.
Our Lord’s death for our salvation was nearly 2000 years ago, and the world continues to be remade by His death and resurrection. But it is still a sorry, broken world. More than anything else, we need to hear and receive the healing balm of the Gospel, and we must continue to learn how to give of ourselves to one another. I speak to myself as much as to my readers.
Know again, friends, that Christ is here for you. He suffers for you, dies for you, and rises for you. Rejoice in His salvation, no matter how dark the road may be. You are never alone.
(a.k.a. Pastor Todd Peperkorn)
[originally posted on LutheranLogomaniac.com]
December 21st is the anniversary of when Kathryn and I lost our son, Emmanuel. It was 2009. And, of course, right before Christmas. Who has time to grieve when there is so much stuff to do?
While the death of Nadia always makes me wish others would remember such days, Emmanuel’s death always reminds me how quickly I myself can forget. Some grief we bury. Some pain is too close, too much to bear at the time.
For pastors, of course, the Christmas season is always a busy time of year. Sermons, bulletins, calls, Christmas programs, caroling, there are always a thousand things to pull us away from our Lord, and from anything else. Pastors don’t have a monopology on this time, either. Mothers, it seems to me, are always full of things that need doing. And holidays or Christmas breaks and the like, well, they may actually be more work for mom, not less. But the list could go on.
How do we allow the business of our lives to interfere from what the point of our lives is in the first place? I forget what is important. I forget even big things, like life and death. I get distracted or I distract myself. I run and hide. I flee from such all encompasing realities.
How many of us hide ourselves from our pain? How many walk around, hurting and wounded, in fear of being found out? How many flee at the thought of being weak?
I think that is why a name like Emmanuel is such an important one for Christians. God is with us. There is no “if” behind the name. God is with us IF we behave. God is with us IF we are good. God is with us UNTIL we die. No. It is a statement of fact. God is with us. Period. The words from Exodus come to mind:
“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:23–25 ESV)
God heard. God remembered. God saw. God knew.
That is the God of the Bible. That is the God who comforts me, even in the face of my forgetfulness and death. That is the God who would come as a little child.
-Pastor Todd Peperkorn
Who knew that alcohol really does have that strong of a negative change on the effectiveness of anti-depressants?
Try it. If your meds aren’t working well, stop drinking alcohol. You may be surprised…
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was a day of great darkness and paranoia. Anxiety, fear, anger even were the watchwords of today. Today, it was completely different. Yesterday I was embraced by my family and my congregation, and most especially by the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I don’t mean this in an abstract “think about Jesus” sort of way. I mean by the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper. Our Lord binds Himself to me, forgives all my uncleanness, and draws me into His loving embrace.
One of the strangest changes of my move to California has been the shift in my view toward shut-ins. I had wonderful shut-ins in Kenosha. But visiting always created great anxiety in me. Here, I look forward to them in a way I never did before. This is a gift I did not expect. The Eucharist is the lifeblood of the church. God continues to teach me this.
“O Taste and see how gracious the Lord is; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” Psalm 34:8
Be at peace, brothers and sisters.
How I have missed you so. It has been so boring around here, without your chill wind that leaves me cold and empty. What would I do without your amazing way to turn everything good into evil? What would life be like without second guessing every decision, and turning everything I say and do against me.?
Do you remember that time when you almost had me convinced that you were all there is? Depression, you are really sneaky that way. It’s almost as if you want to be my god. I’m afraid that position has already been filled, but you’re welcome to root around for a while and see what dirt you can dig up. You are good at that, I’ll grant you.
I also really appreciate how you take all of those people closest to me and twist everything around. You have a real skill at making me question everything I hold to be true. That is just awesome.
So, welcome back. Please don’t take this wrong if I say I hope you don’t stay long.
PS you know I’m being sarcastic, right? I want you to go away, now.
I just returned from speaking at the Fort Wayne seminary. The topic, of course, was clinical depression. It was really a two part visit. The first part was speaking to a deaconess practicum class, and the second part was doing a “fireside” chat in the Commons with about fifty students and (if they had one) their wives.
I always feel like it is returning to the mother ship when I go home. No matter how much I like (or dislike) what is going on at the place, it is home in many respects for me. I feel the same way about Seward. I don’t really have many ties to Seward anymore, but it is still my school.
The visit itself was good. I got to catch up with some friends, etc. More importantly, I was able to speak to about fifty members of the student body (and their wives) about depression. It was basically the same schtick I have done elsewhere (if you want to order the talk, CLICK HERE).
What do you say to a group of men who are studying to be pastors about mental illness and depression? There’s a lot to say but I tried to keep it to a description of depression, why pastors are at risk, and ways to address it (either preventatively or in the midst of it). I don’t know if they liked it. Can you “like” a talk about clinical depression? But I believe it was and is important for them to hear, and pray that there are more opportunities to do the same.
What would you tell a soon-to-be-pastor about clinical depression? Why?
Thought I would let the dear readers know that I will be speaking at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne on
April 12, 2011
In the Commons
Concordia Theological Seminary
6600 N. Clinton St.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
The topic will be depression and the Lutheran pastor. You may go to the Facebook page for the event at
Let me know if you are coming. Thanks!
-DMR (aka Todd Peperkorn
(This is a copy of the article on my church’s web site.)
Messiah Lutheran Church is pleased to announce its first speaker in the IMPACT series. The IMPACT series is a series of presentations available to the community in conjunction with our fiftieth anniversary.
Our first presentation is entitled, I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression. Our speaker is Pastor Todd A. Peperkorn, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church. The title of the presentation comes from Pastor Peperkorn’s book of the same title, published in 2009.
Please consider joining us for this important topic. It is free of charge. You may follow updates on the IMPACT series through our Facebook page:
You may also indicate if you will be attending by going to the Facebook event:
We hope to see you there!
[I posted this originally at http://lutheranlogomaniac.com, but I think you might find it of benefit as well.]
December generally stinks for me on a personal level. I know, that’s not a really chipper pastor admission to make, but there you have it. Kathryn and I have had two miscarriages during this season, and December serves as a foreboding for January. Nearly bad memory I have about depression has its triggers in December and January. So for me, December always creates a longing to get away, to escape from my memories and to try and find someplace better. I want it to be better. I want to embrace the joy of the season and be happy, but it doesn’t play out that way very often.
That is why I love the collects, or short prayers of Advent. Each one of them has its own emphasis, but the first one really wraps it all up for me. Here it is:
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (LSB, Collect for the First Sunday in Advent)
What I so often forget is that in many ways I am my own worst enemy. My sinfulness is always at the door, always creeping around and trying to draw me into the traps which only Satan can lay for me. And tragically all too often, I succumb to those traps and temptations.
We don’t think of sin really as dangerous or or destructive, but it is. It threatens our relationship to God, to one another, and seems into every facet of our lives. Satan and sin are always at work, always trying to figure out what and who they can devour next. I don’t say this to cause fear, but first of all as a warning. We should never be surprised when sin messes things up. It is what sin does, and worse.
What this collect (prayer) reminds me of so beautifully is that God’s protection rescues me from my sins. No matter how badly I have screwed up. No matter how much I have contributed to all of my own problems, God is there for me. We pray that God would stir up His power to rescue. And God loves to answer prayers more than anything else.
He will deliver you from the threatening perils of your sins. He will deliver you. Perhaps one of our Advent Psalms puts it best, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15)
This Advent I would encourage you to sit back, recognize your own weaknesses and shortcomings and sinfulness, repent and receive God’s gracious word of forgiveness. But also recognize the weakness and sinfulness of those around you. They are trapped just as you are. God can use your forgiving words to make a difference in another hurting sinner’s life. What could be a better present than that?
Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Come quickly, make haste to deliver me. Amen.
+The Lord be with you+