(By J. Lee Grady) Last month, a successful young pastor, Andrew Stoecklein, ended his life at age 30 after suffering from months of depression. He left behind a grieving wife, three young sons and a baffled congregation in Chino, California. Just days before his suicide, Stoecklein preached a sermon at Inland Hills Church about the reality of depression among Christians. He used the prophet Elijah’s life to illustrate that even spiritual giants struggle with mental and emotional brokenness. Stoecklein said in his Aug. 12 message that “we see mental illness on display” when Elijah hid in a cave and prayed that God would take his life.
“Elijah, he pinpoints the pain,” the young pastor said. “He acknowledges that he is filled with anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts. … Now that is something that we don’t like to talk about much, do we? Especially not the church.” Stoecklein identified with Elijah’s weakness more than anyone realized. He suffered crippling panic attacks after his father died of cancer, and the leaders of his church insisted that he take a sabbatical because of his depression and anxiety. Yet no one, including his supportive wife, Kayla, had any clue he would end his life. READ MORE