“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”—Job 13:15

Abraham Lincoln achieved greatness, not because he found easy solutions, but because of a secret source of strength to persevere. Joshua Wolf Shenk records that, despite victory at 1860’s Illinois state Republican convention, Lincoln fell into terrible depression: “The next day the convention closed . . . Later the lieutenant governor of Illinois, William J. Bross, walked the floor. He saw Lincoln sitting alone at the end of the hall, his head bowed, his gangly arms bent at the elbows, his hands pressed to his face . . . Lincoln noticed him and said, ‘I’m not very well.’ Lincoln’s look at that moment—the classic image of gloom—was familiar to everyone who knew him well. Such spells were just one thread in a curious fabric of behavior and thought that his friends called his ‘melancholy’” -- (The Atlantic, October 2005).

Shenk cites another witness to Lincoln’s chronic depression: “Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker, once told of watching the president drag himself into the room where she was fitting the First Lady. ‘His step was slow and heavy, and his face sad . . . Like a tired child he threw himself upon a sofa, and shaded his eyes with his hands. He was a complete picture of dejection.’ He had just returned from the War Department, he said, where the news was ‘dark, dark everywhere.’ Lincoln then took a small Bible from a stand near the sofa and began to read. ‘A quarter of an hour passed and on glancing at the sofa the face of the president seemed more cheerful. The dejected look was gone; in fact, the countenance was lighted up with new resolution and hope.’ Wanting to see what he was reading, Keckley pretended she had dropped something and went behind where Lincoln was sitting so that she could look over his shoulder. It was the Book of Job.’”

Eugene O’Neill said: “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue!” This Christmas, receive God’s glue in Christ.

Gary Altman


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