Tag Archives: Christian

I Trust When Dark My Road NOW AVAILABLE FREE online


The wait is finally over!

Nearly three years after I began the process of writing this book, it is now available for free download. The free print version will be available sometime in mid-late July. It is at the printer as we speak.

I would urge you to go to the website listed below and order as many copies as they will let you or as many as you need. then download the book and start to get a sense of it. I am very excited and anxious to hear your thoughts on this, and I pray it will serve as a blessing to the Church.

I would especially like to thank Maggie Karner, Al Dobnia, Sarah M. Shafer, Philip Hendricksen, and the entire staff at LCMS World Relief and Human Care for their kindness and work in helping this project come to fruition. They are a wonderful group of people!

So check it out and let me know what you think.

In Christ
Pastor Todd Peperkorn
I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression

To request your complimentary copy,
call 800-248-1930, ext. 1380,

Darkness Is My Only Companion, with thoughts on Bipolar Disorder


Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness, by Kathryn Greene-McCreight

This is a book I am currently reading. It is written by an Episcopalian priest. Consider this your theological disclaimer. I’m certain that there are elements to the book that don’t fit a nice little Lutheran orthodox niche.

Having said that, I have found it about the best book on mental illness from a Christian perspective I have read thus far. She seems to have a pretty firm grasp of the theology of the cross and suffering, doesn’t gloss over the ugly parts, and finds hope in the resurrection.

Her lens through which she views mental illness is bipolar disorder. This is a very different beast than my own sickness, major clinical depression. This illness at different times has been called manic depressive, and many other titles which I won’t try to list. While clinical depression has lows and more lows, bipolar disorder is basically a roller coaster of ecstasy and despondency, bouncing from the two in a way which is nigh impossible to fathom for the outsider.

Here are a couple paragraphs from Greene-McCreight which I found poignant and insightful:

So, during mania, I felt completely different from the way I did at the depressive pole. Mania doesn’t hurt the way depression does. Depression meant that every breath, every thought, every moment of consciousness hurt. Every particle of my consciousness ached, throbbed, stung. Mania was the opposite: every breath, every movement, every image before my eyes, every thought sparkled, glittered magically, filled me with ecstasy. Centrifugal motion, bliss.

At this point, thanks to the medicine, I am not filled with ecstasy. Neither am I in agony. I just want to end my existence. I am tired-not physically,, no, because the medicine is working. HEaven forbid I should be physically tired. Leave it to American medicine to make a drug that provides productivity even during depressive episodes. But I am tired of existed inside of myself, I don’t want to be inside my own skin, am tired of feeling and talking and figuring out why I feel this way and that way, tired of putting off the inevitable, that I should return to the earth from which the muddy Adam was shaped. (p. 55)

Obviously this is not the portrait of a shiny, happy, victorious Christian. This is the picture of the sufferer, who struggles with the medication which continues existence and yet hates the existence it gives. I personally find it refreshing. I just get so sick of fake, infused happiness and joy. This false happiness isn’t as prevalent in Christianity now as it was ten years ago, but it is still very much there.

As I wrap up the book, I’ll try and offer a few more citations that will be of benefit, particularly looking at where we put our trust, and the interaction between medication, faith and therapy.


Penacide or Suicide: Make the Pain Go Away

I’ve been thinking a lot about suicide lately. No, not in connection with myself (be not afraid). I’ve been thinking a lot about this pastor who took his life recently, and what this means theologically, emotionally, and for our common life together.

A doctor recently brought to my attention a word and definition that I believe is extremely helpful for the Christian in understanding suicide. The word is penacide. Penacide is the killing of pain. Here’s one definition of it:

Suicide and Suicide Grief: “‘Pena’ is from the Latin ‘poena’ (punishment or torment), the root of the word ‘pain.’ ‘Cide’ is from ‘cedere’ (to strike down). Penacide is ‘the killing of pain.’ It incorporates the reason, wanting to terminate one’s pain. It eliminates the notion that ‘wanting to die’ has anything to do with killing oneself. Penacide is not a kind of suicide. It’s what causes the deaths recorded as suicides. It is the true name of the beast.”

I would contend, and there is an increasing amount of evidence that bears this out, that most of the cases of suicide are really penacide. This is especially true when it comes to cases of clinical depression. Penacide means that you become so desperate to get rid of the pain inside you that you come to the point where you feel you must take your own life. You can’t take the pain any longer.

In most cases involving suicide, this is what is going on if it is connected to clinical depression.

How does this help us? First of all, it helps us to understand that dealing with clinical depression is not the same as sadness or assuaging guilt. Certainly guilt may and probably does come into play, but that is only one piece of the puzzle. But as Christians, we can easily fall into the trap of thinking of absolutely everything in terms of forensic justification. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t think that mindset is helpful when it comes to depression or suicide.

Let me explain.

Because the neurotransmitters are not working properly in the brain of someone suffering from clinical depression, they become curved in upon themselves. It is increasingly difficult to deal with other people. The noise, the din, the problems, everything is magnified and exaggerated. It becomes physically oppressive. I’ve commented here before on the physical effects of clinical depression. It is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been there. The closest I can come to explaining it is a combination of claustrophobia and suffocation. It is physical. It hurts. It is terribly painful, because you don’t know what is really going on or why.

Tragically for some, the pain becomes too much. They take their own life because they can’t take that pain anymore. I understand that, and I thank God that my pain never got to that point. But I’ve looked over that edge and seen the other side. It isn’t a good place.

So where is hope? Hope lies in the One who endured all for us. Hope lies in the One who came into our fleshed, suffered for us, and went the way of death so that we need not go there ourselves.

Sometimes the pain becomes too much. When we look at brothers and sisters who are suffering, don’t lay them with guilt. Give them Jesus. Get them a doctor. Be a friend. Love them. Suffer with them. Pray for them and with them. Don’t leave them, especially if the pain looks like it is becoming unbearable. God will see them through, and you through.

So what happens when someone does take their own life because the pain becomes too much? Rev. McCain said it very well in his post on the subject, and it bears repeating here:

I remembered Martin Luther’s wise words when asked about the state of those who commit suicide. It is a shame these wise words were not kept in mind during the history of our church. At my first parish, there was a corner of the parish cemetery where suicides were buried, in unmarked graves, the view being quite a legalistic view of the situation, that a person who kills himself has no chance to confess sin and receive absolution and therefore is lost. Luther rather wisely points to the power and influence of Satan and how we must be on our guard and realize that there are those times when Satan will take one of us captive and overcome us on the road of life.

Here is what Luther said:
“I don’t share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber. . . . They are examples by which our Lord God wishes to show that the devil is powerful and also that we should be diligent in prayer. But for these examples, we would not fear God. Hence he must teach us in this way.” [Vol. 54:29].

Finally, if you know a pastor who is struggling, be sure to reach out to encourage him and support him. Don’t sit around thinking, “Oh, somebody else is going to say something.” No, you say something. Do something. Reach out in Christian love. If a congregation is aware that the pastor is suffering, don’t wait, help.

I don’t this is a little stream of consciousness. I’ll try to put my thoughts in a little more cohesive fashion later.

Rest well, friends. Be at peace.