Monday, September 26, 2011

Pulpit Review: Depression and the Gospel


Peperkorn, Todd A. I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression. St. Louis: LCMS World Relief and Human Care, 2009. 102 Pages. Paper. (Free pdf download.Paper copy free for the cost of shipping.) (LHP)

Peperkorn, Todd A. I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression. Roanoke, IL: Lutheran Catechetical Society, 2010. Video DVD. ($20.00 + $5.00 shipping) (LHP)

Mental illness still faces a stigma. 

What if you are a Christian? Will people around you misunderstand? Will even family members misinterpret emotions and behaviors as a crisis of faith? (cf. p. 5)

What if you are a pastor? Can you imagine how depression would impact a life, a family, a ministry, a congregation?

Luther knew this struggle. So did C. F. W. Walther (2).


The Rev. Todd Peperkorn [then pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church, Kenosha, WI] and author of "ITrust When Dark My Road -  A Lutheran View of Depression" leads hisaudience on a journey through the dark days of his own depression and illness…but leading ultimately to the cross ofChrist where there is strength and hope. Through Him we have joy in sorrow. 

Follow an ongoing discussion at Pr. Peperkorn's website,

Well-suited for class or study-settings. A PDF copy ofPeperkorn's [LCMS World Relief and Human Care] book "I Trust When Dark MyRoad" is included on the DVD. (

Pastors need more and better resources on a Christian understanding of depression. Pr. Peperkorn is refreshingly open and transparent about his struggle. His compelling book is enhanced by seeing and hearing Pr. Peperkorn share the same personal accounts from another perspective. The video humanizes and personalizes and informative and helpful book.

Depression is an illness, a result of the fall into sin. It is especially insidious because of how it "works into a mind, into a life" (34). I highly recommend spending extra time studying pages 34ff to better understand the distinctions Peperkorn shares between faith, facts, and feelings. He needed the "for you" Gospel of Christ specifically and personally applied to him by congregation members, his family, and his pastor (cf. 99 on why pastors need pastors, too).

What do I do if a loved one suffers from depression? Consider the suggestions of Appendix I:

  • Pray
  • Talk to them
  • Talk to their spouse
  • Give them space but don't avoid them
  • Don't give up

Buy the DVD to share in a small Adult Bible class setting or to have on loan for special cases of pastoral care. Buy copies of the WRHC book to have on hand to help the depressed and their loved ones better understand the challenge they face and the hope that is in Christ.

The Rev. Todd Peperkorn is Senior Pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church (August 2011 – Present), Rocklin, CA.


Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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