This illustration was inspired while reading pastor & author Zack Eswine’s book Spurgeon’s Sorrows.
As The Gospel Coalition observes, “He [Eswine] handles Spurgeon carefully, yet provocatively at points, and produces a volume that promises to help pastors and laypeople confront the sad terror of the dark night of the soul.”
Here are some reflections that shaped this piece.
Windy storm: Hymn writer Thomas Moore.
“As still to the star of its worship, though clouded, The needle points faithfully o’er the dim sea,
So, dark when I roam, in this wintry world shrouded, The hope of my spirit turns, trembling, to Thee, My God! trembling, to Thee,— True, sure, trembling, to Thee.”
Lamb: Every Christian and Jesus himself, on our behalf. Incarnation.
High priest. Immanuel. God with us.
Pool/still waters: Psalm 23. Yet, not all still waters still the soul. I thought of dangerous, almost hypnotic, pools such as The Dead Marshes in Tolkien’s Two Towers. C.S. Lewis’ Deathwater Island. The haunted pool in Iron Maiden’s Still Life. The compelling pull of dark sadness. Bunyan’s Great Giant Despair.
Drinking: That universal experience of brokenness and sorrow. As ancient Terence reminds, “I am a man therefore nothing human is alien to me.” Jesus in Gethseme “drinking the cup.”
Two skulls: Adam and Eve, our primal forbears who introduced the global legacy of brokenness and death.
Single skull/crown: Charles Haddon Spurgeon---the Prince of Preachers--as a follower struggler with deep sorrow down deep in the pool. Yet Jesus as the Man of Sorrows fathomed deeper still. Charles found great comfort in knowing Jesus could truly relate to and comfort in his sadness this side of heaven.
Glow: both the dangerous hypnotic pull of despair and luminous power of ultimate hope... Christ has experienced and conquered the deepest sorrows.
“Blessed is he who is skilled in heavenly pharmacy and knows how to lay hold on the healing virtues of the promises of God.”
Charles Spurgeon (cited by Eswine)