It is another one of those posts. You know, the ones I should no be writing but write anyway.

It is a very dark time in my life. I don’t know how else to describe it. About three or four weeks ago I changed. I don’t know how to describe this to you. Either I attempt to comfort you and preempt any sorrow by saying it is not really that bad and understate my circumstance, or I catalogue my thoughts to you with the possibility of misunderstanding and dread. All I can say is that I have had some sort of mental breakdown. My strength is gone. Depression? Certainly. Anxiety? Definitely. Fighting with the Lord? Most assuredly. All I know is that I broke a few weeks ago and I don’t know how to fix myself. All of the advice that I have given to broken people over the years is now pointed back at me and I realize how empty it can be.

Why? I don’t know. I wish I did. I have spent the last few weeks obsessing with how to get “me” back. I have analyzed every possible turn. God seems to have gone AWOL and I can’t get in touch with him other than through the cold hard facts. Facts are facts. They are nice, but I am coming to realize how much I need his presence in other ways. He has not been seen in this neck of the woods in quit some time. I am trying to reevaluate my expectations, but that is easier said than done. It is like when someone you love and have grown so used to has disappeared and you have everyone out looking for him but no one knows what happened. Fear sets in and every possible bad thing that could have happened becomes a valid option.

Lord, I guess I need to experience you. I need to see you. Maybe not physically, but like you used to. Things were going so well on so many fronts. My family was strong and they were all following you. Now everyone that I loved so dearly and saw you in is either dead, mentally incapacitated, doubting, or depressed. Some have three of the four. It is so dark at mom’s house. It used to be so wonderful. You were there. And my ministry: it was a joy I turned to so often and found you when you were gone in other places. For years you had surprise moves that energized my spirit with your presence. Now you have left the building here as well. I have come to the point where I am timid and insecure. The mandate that I had is gone. I am exhausted. Completely exhausted. I still have no lack for ideas, I simply lack your blessing? I don’t know.

Lord, it is lonely without you. I know, I know. You are really there. You are in other things I am not seeing. I know you are teaching me something. But I don’t really want to learn this anymore. I am sorry, but if you take your presence away from me, what do you expect? I am so tired and I don’t know how to function in this environment. Can’t I learn it with you in the room?

I think I have cried more times in the last few weeks then I have in my entire life. My poor wife does not know what to do.

To my readers: I ask for your prayers. I don’t know what it is like any longer to mount up on wings like eagles. I don’t know what the peace that passes understanding is anymore. I have the opposite and it does not seem to be going away any time soon. It is taking its toll on everyone I know and I understand why. I was the stable one. I was the one who demonstrated what faith in Christ could get you through. I was the one that set an example. I always had hope. Now I am a leper of sadness and hopelessness. I don’t know what I am asking for prayer for. I just want to be back to “normal.”  I have been to see my counselor and have some rocks who are remaining stable. Please know that I am not going through this alone. Yet it is still so dark. I do ask you to talk to God about this on my behalf. As the Lord hangs on to me at this time, pray that he pulls me out of this pit. I do know I will get through this, but I need your prayers so much. I am broken.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    132 replies to "Broken"

    • Seamless Melody

      Praying for you, dear brother!

      Psalm 42

      “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

      Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

      Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

      FYI, may be an encouragement to you:

    • Jaco


      I have relived my own relentless bouts of depression and despair, of emptiness and “nowhere-ness” I experienced several years ago. I was very young – just turned 20. Extremely active in a very successful ministry. I was the one leaned upon – by friends, by parents, by Mom, by Dad. The congregation had its own burdens I had helped to carry. I saw in those times God’s miraculous deliverances of so many otherwise unmovable Behemoth-like obstacles. And suddenly there was nothing. Suddenly nothing. It was as if none of those ever happened. As if none of those meant anything anymore. Like God had left the building, and had left me behind. I felt lost, abandoned, confused.

      My first reaction was to fight. To do more Bible reading, to pray more often, to “clean out” my area of possible demon-sponsored influences and to subject myself to extreme self-pummeling. Well, it did bring activity back into my life, but I couldn’t pretend that there was meaning while I knew deep inside that it was lacking.

      After a few years (long story short), I realised what was wrong in my case: I had to discover Jaco again. Jaco was lost. God never walked out of the building. I ran ahead of God and left Him and Jaco behind. At times God “caught up” on me. Those were the times I realised that God was so pleased with what I did, but I neglected myself. Inside were needs that were left unmet. I needed connection again. Connection with my inner self and with those my inner self craved for. The “demanding parent” had to stand aside for the precious child to be heard. He was the one with the “dirty nappy.” His cries were the sounds I ignored for so, so long. Only after reclaiming myself could I feel where to go to next. I allowed God to speak to my whole self – not only the “military commander” inside; my whole self. That is after all how a Father takes care of all his children.

      Things got so much better since.

      Hang in there, brother

    • jim

      Personal advice for these broken times rests in allowing the drain plug to be pulled so you might not drown with the responsibilities and despair that God has promised us. Our balance of living this life in servant hood and as a gift from God is so vital… that at times we need to celebrate the gift of life.

      Pop in “Lord of the Rings” (1 or 2 or 3) doesn’t matter. Grab the wife, (I know it probably isn’t her favorite) some buttered popcorn, a little snuggling, and leave it all with him , trust that the Lord knows you inside and out and enjoy the good things he has provided for you!!!

      I lean heavily on my wife as my helpmate and she is there by design for these broken times.

      In Christ!!!

    • Penny


      I think there is a connection formed within the Spirit of God amongst believers when we confess to each other that we are suffering.

      As you humbled yourself in your despair, by letting us all in, you began your healing. The moment we share our burdens, they can begin to lift. Maybe this is the moment when we finally lift them up and Jesus actually takes them from us.

      The prayers you receive because of this will allow us to share your burden. I read the most moving account of this in a true story in the book “when I lay my Isaac down”, by Carol Kent. Her sister prayed to take her burden for the day…

      Thank you for letting us help to hold you up because you have blessed all of us in so many ways.

      You said before about Angie, if she had only shared with you what she was going through… Now you see the difference in humbling yourself enough to share, it may be the only way for such heavy burdens to be carried, with others along side.

      God promises He will not give us more than we can bear, But He never intended us to try to carry them alone.

    • PeteRock

      I’m sure you’re heard of Dr. John Coe, associate professor at Talbot School of Theology. He has an excellent lecture series on spiritual formation, where he discusses levels of Dark Nights (among other things) in the Christian life.

      Here’s the link:

      As of lately, I’ve been experiencing some things in my life where I find myself asking God “why? what’s going on?…” The scary thing about this is that it feels like it’s being intensified. I’m really at a place where I just not sure what to do…I just know I’m sick and tired of a lot of stuff (especially with church). And like you, I know that God will see me through; just wished He would move a little quicker (at least bring clarity to the experience).

      I am praying for you also my brother, as I know this is not easy. God is well in control. Just wanna add this one last thing by Dr. Coe:

      “God’s specific goal in a dark night is to bring one to a deeper knowledge of one’s need for Him and a deeper embracing of Jesus’ statement, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). What does not feel very spiritual in a dark night, in the believer’s dryness and spiritual doldrums, turns out to be a profound work of the Spirit that acquaints the Christian with the truth of him- or herself. Because this is a life-long journey, the goal is for the Christian therapist and client to learn how to track the Spirit’s ministry throughout the seasons in life, to learn to cooperate with His work and intentions, and to depend upon and be filled with Him” (Musing on the Dark Night of the Soul).

    • J.

      I don’t know you. In fact, this is the first time I have read your blog. It came recommended by a friend. I am in a similar place and have been for a few years. Even though I have much theological training, I was not prepared for what it might feel like to experience the complete silence of God. Both God and His people seemed to disappear during one of my greatest times of need. I was stranded. I lost faith in God and trust His people less than I do those “in the world.” Now I am doing what Francis Schaeffer once did during a time in which he was contemplating leaving the faith – going back to the very basics. Many questions are being asked, few have been answered. I am not sure where my path will lead, but I feel for you. You will get many people telling you to read such and such book and to pray this and that prayer… but you and I both know that won’t work this time. God’s grace will have to come down in a more direct and special way. I won’t lie and say that I will pray for you, but I certainly hope you find what you are seeking… the reality of God.

    • Paul Davis


      I’m not sure what to say, I’ve been there a number of times. After a while it makes you numb to the pain, and I’m not sure which is worse, the pain or the ability to not really feel it.

      Your ministry has changed my life, it has given me clarity and the ability to look at what I believe in a different light. That’s HUGE, even if you don’t see it, your faith is having an impact…

      All I can say is hang in there baby!!, God is bigger than our darkest problems, and sooner or later the sun finally comes up.

      I will keep you in my prayers, it’s all I have to offer…



    • Jim

      Sitting in silence with you … no advice

    • Dinah


      I feel for you ….. and though each person’s pain is different, I can only share the lessons God has taught me when I wander through the ‘dark tunnels’ ….

      yes it is depression …. the most important thing to know about the darkness is that it will end, so you can hang on.

      several years ago now, when I was in a very dark place, God gave me this promise, which I share with you (though likely He will give you your own) ….

      I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
      You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
      O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
      and you restored my health.
      You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.
      You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

      Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
      Praise his holy name.
      For his anger lasts only a moment,
      but his favor lasts a lifetime!
      Weeping may last through the night,

      but joy comes with the morning.

      (from Psalm 30, NLT)

      (yes, I realize it is not the NET but this version ‘speaks’ to me)

      Years later, though I still go through periods of depression (another lesson, depression tends to be cyclical) …. yet I have found to be true what many old saints have reported ….. that it can draw you nearer to God in a way nothing else can.

      May the Lord bless you and keep you,
      May the Lord make His face to shine upon you
      and be gracious unto you
      May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you
      and give you peace
      (from Numbers)

    • Jack hager

      My friend, I just prayed and will try to keep praying. Never have I been in as deep a valley as you…but the last couple years have been pretty tough, especially the waiting…and now that I’m on the other side of the valley (and anticipating valleys yet to come since it is NOT about “your best life now” etc)…I am glad I somehow, by His grace, stayed glued to Jesus, the author and pioneer of my faith…

      The truth to which I cling, simplistic as it may seem to some:
      1. God is good
      2. God is wise
      3. God is sovereign

      And the valleys of life and not valleys of death, they are valleys of the SHADOW of death; and shadows are caused by something/someone getting in the way of the source of light…

      March on, friend, even if it feels as if you are marching in place…

    • Mary

      The dark night of the soul…many of God’s children find themselves there from time to time. I imagine our Lord found himself there right before the brightness of glory came bursting through. I am reminded of one dark, dark period recently in my life where I had “learned” so much, God had to restructure my heart in order to address some of the “issues” there. As He worked to rearranged my thoughts, motivations and plans, it hurt like hell!! I was in such a desert, I couldn’t see daylight, so parched I thought I would die…I wanted to!! Thank God I knew enough to realize that is NOT my call! This IS a call, however, and the work being accomplished is a great work that we can only give Him praise for: that He counts us worthy to suffer with and for Christ.
      “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” ISAIAH 61:3
      God bless you dear brother.

    • JoanieD

      I am sorry that you are going through this tough patch, Michael. Depression is terrifying, especially when you don’t know why you are depressed. But I think you have had a lot “on your plate” lately and you have felt you needed to be the “strong” one. But I hope you will let others help you and if medication is recommended by your doctor, I hope that works well for you. Sometimes, as you likely know, one medication won’t work so well, but the next one will.

      You have helped so many people. And now, I hope many people will help you. And yes, likely having at least a tiny inkling of the presence of God would go a long way to giving you hope and joy. I will pray that God would bless you in that way. Peace be with you.

      Oh, I skimmed through the comments and one that most struck me was from Darrin at #6, a self-proclaimed non-believer. His description of what it is like to live without a belief in God is quite heartbreaking. Thank you, Darrin, for caring enough for Michael to remind him of what he believes. And thank you for the caring responses of all of you. I haven’t been spending a lot of time on this blog recently, but Michael has never stopped being a wonderful writer and a great scholar.

    • Ed Kratz

      I suppose that this has been coming for a long time. As I continue this evening to wonder when the turns took place, I realize that this break was ripe. I was reading a post I did almost a year ago and although I was doing much better then than I am now, it was just a matter of time:

      Weak, hurting, and sad, but loving the body of Christ right now.

      Thank you all.

    • cherylu


      I just feel strongly that I need to say this again tonight to you:

      He is faithful, Michael, He is faithful. He IS faithful!

    • Susan

      Yeah, you have been cruising toward this for awhile. I sent your buddy Dan the link to the cry uncle blog THEN… and to this one yesterday. You have been pressed-in from so many sides for such a great while now. We are all crushable given the right set of circumstances. You’ve been coping with too many major stressors. I wish you could just take a break…..get out of Dodge for awhile or something…. You need some peace. I’ve been praying that God will give you that. You are loved….says me (!)

    • Joshua Allen

      Here’s a passage from a commentary on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation:

      “Precisely in his rash protest over his suffering, Job unwittingly speaks the truth about God. In his suffering he cries out to God as the ultimate answer to it all. As with Job, it is only through suffering that sinners come to know and speak such truth. As inveterate theologians of glory, we are bound to shy away from such truth and, like Job’s friends, try to make excuses for God. We adjust our doctrine of God to fit our glory projects. If God doesn’t “play fair,” how can our works count? Thus do we render God innocuous by our flattery. Instead of being brought to the praise of God, we bend our efforts to justify him.”

      That’s from page 89 of “On Being a Theologian of the Cross”, which was recommended to me a few months ago by a Lutheran.

      Despite a few issues I had with the book, it’s the best book I’ve ever read on suffering and the cross. Mind-blowing, really. The footnotes in this section were tremendously helpful to my understanding of some of my past tragedies, the meaning of Job, and so on.

    • Steve

      You are not alone. I’m in the same place. Blessings my friend.

    • Don "Doc" Pagala

      A couple of years ago you came to Crossroads Grace Community Church in Manteca California and spoke at our Men’s Ministry group. We began your teachings in the Theology Program a few months prior to your arrival. I want you to know that TTP is strong in our church and it is because of you! You are the voice that crys out in the wilderness and God allows us times and seasons to work things out for his glory. I’ve been reading these posts and I have been crying, not so much because I feel what you do, but because I too suffer in similar ways. Knowing that you and others in Christ also suffer reminds me a lot of the wisdom that God granted to King Solomon. Here was a guy who had wealth beyond anything that we could begin to imagine. This king had it all, kingdoms over kingdoms, blessings beyond imagination, and short comings beyond anything you or I can fathom. So what did the wisest man on earth have to say after everything was said and done? – Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of man. 12:14 For God will evaluate every deed, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Christ Jesus gives us so much more than this!

      I love you man, we will get through this season. You stand on the side of the pit, and you are not in the hole, so look up as the clouds go by, and remember His promise which is true. Take the time to do something fun everyday, something for you, do it selfishly and without shame while praying for me as I do for you.

      In His grip,

      Biblical Studies Press: The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006; 2006, S. Ec 12:13-14

    • Reg

      I have been there. I have no advice to offer, just my prayers. Even in the very darkest moments, our Lord is there with us.

    • Gisela

      “It is another one of those posts. You know, the ones I should not be writing but write anyway.”

      And you know, the posts you “should not” be writing are exactly the ones many of us need you to write. Write them! Write them! Write them!

    • John From Down Under

      Touché Gisela.

      I know that our responses have probably reached saturation point by now and by no means am I trying to sound like I’m attending a ‘pitty party’, but may I please say this:

      Michael you’re my hero right now! and I hope this doesn’t sound weird or paradoxical.

      Christians who ‘have it all together’ don’t edify me the slightest. One of the realizations of the post-Pentecostal experience was how much I really dislike (better make that ‘loath’) triumphalism. Full of denial and emotional dishonesty.

      Thanks mate for daring to share your ‘dark side’ with your readers. I know the blog will soon go back to analyzing the nuances of theological distinctions and it’s great to have sound theologians on the blogosphere. But sometimes, as admirable their knowledge and insight may be, you wonder if they register a heartbeat. Anti-intellectual Charismaniacs have resigned to an emotional religion, but their diametrical opposites have resigned to a heartless gospel (almost theo-info-worship)

      You have humanized the theologian I have grown fond of over the last year. (I never thought I would ever warm up to a Calvinist but you broke the mould:))

      Reclaiming the Mind and Rediscovering the Heart!

    • Stephen Satterfield


      My prayers are with you! I enjoy reading your blog, they give me much to think and pray about. I pray that God will bring you through this time as he did the disciples on that dark, black Saturday before the Resurrection! God bless you richly!

      Yours In Christ,

    • Gary L. Nebeker


      Would love to chat with you to hear more of your story.


    • rach

      i have felt like this for 10 entire years and counting. i would give anything to feel the lord’s love, but i am convinced he will never take me back because i probably committed the unforgivable sin. i feel such darkness. no one has been able to give me any real advise or comfort.

    • JoanieD

      rach…please know that God is ALWAYS with you, even when you feel like you are far from God. There is nothing you have done that God will not forgive because God is Love and he loved you so much that he died for you. It is very difficult when we cannot feel that love, but I hope that you can find someone in your community to talk to who can reassure you of God’s love for you. Sometimes we just need to relax, take a few deep breaths and trust that God is with us. A way of praying that helps some people is to sit quietly and let a “prayer word” rest in your mind. You may choose “Jesus” as your prayer word or “Amen” or “Abba” or “Let it be.” But it’s your prayer to God that for that period of time that you are letting everything go and you are telling God that you need his help. You may say, “Jesus, help me.” And then trust that Jesus WILL help you. You do not need to feel sad or bad if you don’t feel any closer to God immediately. Some people sense the presence of God quickly, others take years but in the meantime, they have a sense of hope. I wish the peace of Jesus for you, rach.

    • margaret smoker

      I just read your blog as I saw someone refer to it on Ken Pullman’s (SP) blog. I felt like this two years ago and no longer wanted to live. No one in the Christian community except family and non Christian friends contacted me. I at the age of 16 accepted Christ as my savior and witnessed to my family members, taught sunday school, was the Christian Ed person at my church. I no longer believe in the god of the bible and I no longer need to be on any medication. I am a happy well adjusted non believer who can work and enjoy life again. I wish you all the best in your struggle and thank you for your honesty.

    • […] First part is here. (The second part of his series is here) […]

    • […] I went through a serious fall emotionally. It is what some people call “depression.” I wrote about it while fractured. In short, my mind broke. I don’t know how else to put it.  There was a black hole that […]

    • jonathan

      Hey Michael,

      I have experienced something like this a few years ago. Do you think there is any truth to the idea of the dark night of the soul?

    • […] years ago my mind broke. I wrote about it while in the darkness. I can’t believe it has been two years. No, no. This is not a […]

    • LL

      Hi Michael,
      I’ve been reading your blogs for some time. I realize that this is an old post, not your latest. Though I don’t know you, tears come to my eyes, and I feel for you. I am also a steady person, always the same, yet in the last couple years, and especially the last (2011), He has led me through territory that I have never been before. It has broken certain vital relationships (not nuclear family) in my life and left me wondering what Jesus is doing.

      I have become ever more aware of my own weakness and sinfulness in the presence of a holy God. I do not try to compare my situation to yours; but can empathize somewhat. I nonlongermlook at “broken” Christians as having a problem, but simply becoming aware of their own brokenness. I believe it is a gift, though a difficult one to bear.

      Keep strong, keep holding to the “facts” of faith, and I know the Lord will heal you completely, if not fully here, then at his glorious appearing. Blessings to you, and thanks for sharing your heart with us. (from Canada)

    • […] You can find this article here. […]

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