Healthy Pastors Series [Part 3 of 3]: Click | View Series
On the eve of October 19, 1856, Spurgeon commenced services at the Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall, a popular amusement hall that Spurgeon's congregation rented when they had outgrown their building and had not completed a new one.
During the morning service he preached at New Park Street Chapel on Malachi 3:10: "Prove me now." With chillingly prophetic voice he declared, "I may be called to stand where the thunderclouds brew, where the lightnings play, and tempestuous winds are howling on the mountain top. Well, then, I am born to prove the power and majesty of our God; amidst dangers he will inspire me with courage; amidst toils he will make me strong... We shall be gathered together tonight where an unprecedented mass of people will assemble, perhaps from idle curiosity, to hear God's Word; and the voice cries in my ears, 'Prove me now.' ...See what God can do, just when a cloud is falling on the head of him whom God has raised up to preach to you..."
Reason Shattered, Distressed, Ministry Flourished
The evening service was held at Surrey Hall, which seated up to twelve thousand and was overflowing with an additional ten thousand people in the gardens. While the evening service was underway, during Spurgeon's prayer, several malicious people shouted, "Fire! The galleries are giving way!"
The panic produced rushes of people. Seven people were trampled to death and twenty-eight were hospitalized with serious injuries.
Near the Furnace of Insanity
Spurgeon (only 22 years old), was carried from the pulpit and taken to a friend's house where he remained for several days in deep depression. He was so distressed he was unable to preach for several weeks and later said the experience was "sufficient to shatter my reason" and might have meant his ministry "was silenced for ever." He remarked, "Perhaps never a soul went so near the burning furnace of insanity, and yet came away unharmed." A friend and biographer commented that his early death may have been the result of this tragedy, "I cannot but think, from what I saw, that his comparatively early death might be in some measure due the furnace of mental suffering he endured on and after that fearful night."
Spurgeon later recounted the agony he went through: "Standing in this pulpit, this morning, I recall to myself that evening of sorrow when I saw my people scattered, like sheep without a shepherd, trodden upon, injured, and many of them killed. Do you recollect how you cried for your minister, that he might be restored to a reason that was then tottering? Can you recollect how you prayed that, out of evil, God would bring forth good, that all the curses of the wicked might be rolled back upon themselves, and that God would yet fill this place with His glory? And do you remember how long ago that is, and how God has been with us ever since, and how many of those, who were injured that night, are now members of our church, and are praising God that they ever entered this hall? Oh! shall we not love the Lord? There is not a church in London that has had such answers to prayer as we have had; there has not been a church that has had such cause to pray. We have had special work, special trial, special deliverance, and we ought preeminently to be a church, loving God, and spending and being spent in His service."
Not Erased From My Memory
"I cannot speak, as a grey-headed man, of the storms and troubles which many of you have endured; but I have had more joys and more sorrows, in the last few years, than any man in this place, for my life has been compressed as with a Bramah press—a vast mass of emotion into one year. I have gone to the very bottoms of the mountains, as some of you know, in a night that never can be erased from my memory—a night connected with this place."
Spurgeon's ministry was vast and people all over the world loved him, but I believe he would have lived longer if his sheep only cared more deeply for his total wellness!
Your Pastor-Shepherd Feels Deeply
Your pastors may be built as tough as a Dodge, but I tell you they weep, ache, sweat, agonize, intensely labor and lose sleep over their tribe. They weep over those who are living separate from Christ and labor to keep sheep in healthy pastures away from harmful predators. They sweat to provide nurturing food. They ache and agonize to provide a better way for you and for me. Give them the best of your prayers, service and work—your sacrifices and action of faith will be the aroma of Christ.
Learn to appreciate the work of your pastors, and when they don't seem to meet the mark don't just throw them in the trash compactor with the hopes that they will see things your way after the battering is done. Give way to grace, for we all have our down days and it's good to have a friend in our corner to give us the light of reason when we need it most!
Lift up your pastors!