The famed English Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon knew pain well. He suffered emotional distress (as well as numerous physical afflictions) of almost unbearable depths.
A Christianity Today article relates, for example, this terrible event in Spurgeon’s life:
That evening Surrey Hall, capable of holding up to twelve thousand, was overflowing with an additional ten thousand people in the gardens. The service was underway when, during Spurgeon’s prayer, several malicious miscreants shouted, “Fire! The galleries are giving way!” In the ensuing panic, seven people died and twenty-eight were hospitalized with serious injuries. Spurgeon, totally undone, was literally carried from the pulpit and taken to a friend’s house where he remained for several days in deep depression.[i]
Spurgeon, already sometimes afflicted with dark depression, from that point forward fell into such moods with greater frequency. However, he viewed these episodes as necessary to equip him to help others.
Spurgeon comforted himself with the realization that such depression equipped him to minister more effectively: “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.”[ii]
Spurgeon’s example underscores an amazing truth: emotional pain can be harnessed as a force for personal transformation and even used to change the world for the better.
Fact is, at some point in our lives, most of us will struggle with at least one of these: anger, anxiety, and depression. I don’t just mean the occasional cloudy day, but hurricane force storms!
Like folks facing Category 5 hurricanes, we should not ignore the destructive potential of strong emotions. Strong emotions can ruins us.
However, the good news is that we can all grow toward managing them and even harnessing them to grow stronger. We also can cultivate energizing emotions such as enthusiasm, encouragement, peace, joy and love.
Truth is, we need some strong emotions! After all, how much longer would slave trade have lasted without the righteous anger of the Abolitionists?
Over the next few weeks, I will present a series, Harnessing Strong Emotions for Transformation.
We will examine three emotions which have great potential for destruction or transformation. These articles will help you identify, harness and utilize the strong emotions – even painful ones - that you experience in your life.
I hope you find them helpful.
[i] Retrieved 9/14/17 from http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-29/anguish-and-agonies-of-charles-spurgeon.html
[ii] Retrieved 9/14/17 from http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-29/anguish-and-agonies-of-charles-spurgeon.html