A Depression Observed – Introduction

Greetings Church Family, Friends, and Fellow Sojourners,

This Thanksgiving season marks the beginning of a new season of life and ministry for me. I am in a very different place than I was back in September (and really most of 2023). Should we ever be surprised by the Lord's faithfulness and Scripture's effectiveness?

One of my goals throughout this sabbatical journey has been to come out the other end a better pastor. I have prayerfully sought the wisdom of the Lord and asked the Lord to use my weaknesses and struggles to encourage and strengthen others, especially those in my church family. I believe the Lord, through his word, has given me some valuable insights and perspectives, especially for our church family and our community. I’ll have more to share about the Lord’s leadership when I preach on Sunday, December 10, but in the meantime, I want to share some of the Lord’s lessons and direction in these days. Consequently, I have written my story, and I plan to share it on my blog a little at a time. There are a dozen-ish chapters to this journey (so far). I plan to share a few each week until I have shared it all. The first part will be posted on Sunday, November 26. So, please visit this page often between now and the end of 2023.

Even as I type these words, I feel a burden to pray for others who struggle with some of these same frustrations, burdens, and heartaches. I am praying our Lord uses the story of my journey to strengthen you on your journey.

A brief note on the title of this blog series...

I suppose a literary device is sort of like a joke. If you have to explain it, then it was not effectual, and you should not have used it. Maybe, though, a little explanation would be helpful here.

One of the books I read in this sabbatical time is C.S. Lewis's, A Grief Observed. It is one of those Christian classics that I should have read twenty years ago. Better late than never.

C.S. Lewis, known as Jack to his friends, was a literary scholar, a noted atheist, and then eventually a renowned Christian theologian who lived in the first half of the twentieth century. He is best known today as the author of the book-turned-movie-series, Chronicles of Narnia, and as one of the best friends of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the book-turned-movie series, The Lord of the Rings. Lewis, however, was the author of much more than just the Narnia books. Several of his books are considered classics today, including Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Problem of Pain. I recommend everything Lewis has written.

One of the many remarkable stories connected to C.S. Lewis is that of his relationship with his wife, Joy, whom he met later in life. Before Jack and Joy were married, Joy was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In fact, the wedding ceremony took place in Joy's hospital room. The cancer went into remission for a few years before eventually taking Joy's life. Jack was heartbroken. In his pain, he recorded his thoughts and his struggles. That journal of agony became the classic book, A Grief Observed.

One thing Lewis would often say about this book is that the most important word in the title is the word "A." He emphasized that if the book were simply titled Grief Observed, then it would report to be a description of the true nature of every man's grief journey. He wanted people to understand that he was not suggesting that every experience of grief matched his own. His book simply described "A" grief journey. His hope was not that people would find a common experience of grief as they read his book but that people would find a common grace and mercy provided by the Lord, who loves each of us in our own stories and unique struggles.

A Depression Observed...

I am not attempting to write a Christian classic, but I have the same heart as C.S. Lewis. I doubt anyone will find a perfect parallel between my journey, my grief, and my struggle and their own. This story is not Depression Observed; it is A Depression Observed. My hope is that people will find a common grace and mercy provided by the Lord who loves each of us in our own story and in our own unique struggle.

Pastor Noel

Pastor Noel