Compiled by staff of Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
Elijah really did it, along with Jeremiah, Jonah, John the Baptist and even the Apostle Paul.
Each of these “heroes of the faith” hit a brick wall in their life and ministry.
Moses, Elijah and Jonah despaired of life itself and asked the Lord to just take them home to glory.
Samuel felt rejected by the very people he’d spent a lifetime pointing to the Lord.
Jeremiah penned five haunting poems of laments, painting a horrific picture of what despair looks and feels like.
John the Baptist wondered if he’d spent his life for naught, that perhaps Jesus was not the Messiah after all.
Paul felt pressed beyond measure. He feared that the more he loved those he served, the less they loved him in return.
Then there’s David. This anointed man of God, an admired warrior, became so fearful of losing his life that he drooled in his own beard and acted like a crazed lunatic to escape imminent death. The superscription to Psalm 34 gives a hint at how abjectly humiliating this lapse of faith must have been!
The good news is that the Lord delivered each of them out of their dark holes of despair. Well, maybe not Jonah; we don’t know the end of his story.
Shepherd Care is the name of a service the TBMB provides for Tennessee Baptist ministerial church leaders, their spouses and their families to help when the pressures of life seem too great to bear.
Shepherd Care is a lifeline, something we all need from time to time. A trained listener and skilled questioner can often help us figure out how we got to where we are and how we can get back to the joy in Christ we once knew.
The number to reach Shepherd Care is 1-833-55Peace. This is a toll-free and confidential call. The TBMB will connect you with a distinctively Christian counselor or counseling center in your part of the state. The TBMB will pay the full fee for the first session for any pastor, pastor’s wife or dependent child, and other ministerial church staff, spouse and family. The TBMB provides payment at a graduated rate for additional sessions.
The TBMB board of directors initially approved this ministry during the COVID pandemic. At its 2022 Spring board meeting, it expanded the ministry as a continuing service for Tennessee Baptist pastors, ministerial staff, spouses and dependent children.
The phone number itself has meaning.
833 is a stirring reminder of Romans 8:33: “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
Many still struggle with the stigma of needing help. God doesn’t judge your faith as faulty when you seek help! Sometimes, even our own heart condemns us (1 John 3:20a). Good news! God is greater than our heart; He knows all things (1 John 3:20b). He is the One who justifies!
55Peace is drawn from Isaiah 55:12. “You shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace.” God’s plan for His children is that we experience the freshness of His joy and the comfort of His peace.
Charles Spurgeon was the subject of Elizabeth Skoglund’s book Bright Days, Dark Nights (2000).
This mighty “prince of preachers” struggled mightily with bouts of depression throughout his entire ministry. He later wrote, “I would go into the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit; it is good for me to have been afflicted that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.”
Adrian Rogers often connected physical, emotional and spiritual health when he characterized the interplay of happiness, healthiness and holiness.
When our emotional well-being and/or physical well-being get out of sync, it affects our spiritual well-being. And vice versa.
In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (2006), Peter Scazzero underscored this theme. He said it is impossible to be spiritually mature while being held sway by emotional unhealthiness.
When you find yourself experiencing a “dark night of the soul,” you are in pretty good company! The saints of old had their ups and downs. Great leaders throughout Christian history had their own struggles with dark nights.
Jeremiah expressed what many have felt: “My strength and my hope have perished from the LORD” (Lamentations 3:18).
Emerging from what John Bunyan called “the slough of despond,” Jeremiah followed those despairing words with one of the brightest rays of light in human history: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
He concluded this moment of brilliant insight, “ ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ ” (Lamentations 3:22-24). B&R To read more on pastor stress, click HERE.