by Jan Dravecky
My anger at God grew into rage. I shook my fist and screamed, “I can’t feel you, I can’t see you, I can’t sense you, I don’t even know if you exist anymore. And if you do exist, why aren’t you helping me?” That’s how I felt after my husband Dave’s cancer returned in May 1990. I was absolutely exhausted and so depressed that I couldn’t leave the house. I looked for strength and comfort in the words of the Bible. But I did so with a heavy heart, as if scavenging for scraps of hope I didn’t really expect to find. I prayed I would soon return to my normal self, but things got worse. When Dave had surgery to remove the tumor in his arm, the doctor found more cancer. It was only a matter of time before Dave would lose his arm. One afternoon our kids came begging me to take them for a swim. I could see how much they wanted me to go with them, but I was numb. I couldn’t move. So Dave, who was suffering the effects of radiation treatments, took the kids to the pool without me. Something inside me snapped: “I can’t even go to the stinkin’ pool with my kids!” I was incapable of carrying one more burden or doing one more task, much less feeling joy in anything.
Provision of Time
Clinical depression often triggers a downward spiral. In my case, fellow Christians didn’t understand why I couldn’t “snap out of it” by praying or confessing my sin. But there’s no easy answer. God never said there would be. The truth is: suffering isn’t pretty. So how does a person endure through depression? Even though I couldn’t feel God’s presence, I kept turning to the Bible. I was desperate to reconnect with the One who had claimed me as His own and had promised to never let me go. Five years passed before I finally made it through that dark season. Looking back, I’ve learned that it takes time. Even with encouragement from the Bible. Even with counseling and treatment. And even if you have a friend who lets you honestly express your feelings without spiritualizing or sugar-coating them. Those things can eventually bring healing, but the seeds of endurance are buried deep under the surface. And it takes time for tender stems to push their way up out of the darkness—and even more time for joy to reach full bloom. I share my story so that others who struggle with depression will know that they are not alone and that they, too, can find the patience to endure.