Anger, Articles, Depression, Words of Endurance

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.


Articles, Loss, Words of Endurance

by Dave Dravecky

All I had ever done was play baseball. So when I lost my pitching arm, I lost a lot more too—my career, my position and my sense of identity. Who was I if I was not a pro baseball player? It was a long and difficult journey to identify the real Dave Dravecky. Before my surgery, I looked forward to the amputation. My arm had become useless and was a source of great pain. I wanted to be rid of it. But I had no idea what the consequences would be. After the amputation, I put on a brave face and “sucked it up.” I adjusted to my new “normal” life, but inside—even though I was not aware—I struggled with denial and anger, resulting in depression. Everything familiar had been washed away, and I was face to face with what I had really lost. So much of my identity and worth was wrapped up in that arm and what it had been capable of doing. It had brought me joy. It had brought me financial security. It had brought me the fulfillment of my boyhood dream. My questions could not be held at bay: “Who am I? Why am I here? And now what am I supposed to do with my life?” Individuals and caregivers who deal with long-term illness or disability will inevitably face life-changing losses—often including relationships, skills and resources that have been an essential part of who we are and that have given us joy and purpose in living.

Provision of Perspective

The wake-up call for me came through the counseling that my wife, Jan, sought during her recovery from depression. As I listened to Jan pour out her heart, I thought, “Hey, what she’s going through is similar to what’s happening to me.” Over a period of 18 months of counseling, I began to understand my feelings and, for the first time in my life, learned how to express them—and that wasn’t easy for a jock like me. I also found encouragement and motivation through the hope I have in Jesus Christ. Even as a follower of Jesus Christ, I sometimes wanted to crawl into a corner, paralyzed by fear. But I learned to trust that no tragedy or trauma could ever diminish my worth. My worth is not in what I did, but in who I am—a child of God. With this true perspective of myself, I gained the ability to endure the changes and challenges of living without my left arm. And I laid down my ball and glove. Now, more than 20 years later, I’ve come to recognize that God has a special purpose for my life in offering His comfort, encouragement and hope to others—perhaps even to you or someone you know—on the journey of suffering. Please share this to encourage a friend or loved one.


Articles, Counsel, Words of Endurance

Seeking Wise Counsel

The Bible clearly encourages us to “seek wise counsel.” In addition to seeing your medical doctor, obtaining good Christian counseling, when effective, can shed light on the source(s) of emotional pain and offer practical, biblical steps toward healing. Much like choosing a physician, selecting the right counselor can be a process. We encourage anyone seeking counseling to proceed with wisdom and prayer. Do contact your insurance company as many policies cover counseling but may have specific guidelines or prerequisites. The following organizations provide either direct Christian counseling or referral to local sources.

Local Churches

Many churches provide free counseling. The quality of counseling, however, can vary greatly. Listed below are some suggested guidelines for choosing a local church counselor.

  1. Do they use the Bible and Biblical principles as their primary counseling tool?
  2. Does the church have experience dealing with your particular issue?
  3. How long has their counseling department been providing counseling? Are their counselors trained? If so, how much and what kind of training do they receive?
  4. Do they believe in medical intervention if it is warranted? Will they refer counselees for medical care?
  5. Are there situations when they refer counselees to professional Christian counselors? If so, what are those situations?
  6. Do they have an initial in-depth screening to determine appropriate counselor placement?

American Association of Christian Counselors

AACC represents thousands of evangelical professionals, pastoral and lay counselors nationwide who are dedicated to promoting excellence and unity in Christian counseling. To find a Christian Counselor in your area, you can access their website or call AACC.

New Life Ministries

New Life Ministries is a non-profit ministry that seeks to provide resources that will help you with your life challenges. New Life has a large network of professional, Christian counselors located throughout the country. The network counselors have gone through an extensive application and credentials verification process. The Network Counselors agree with New Life’s Statement of Faith and meet the professional standards set for the members in the counseling network. Let New Life Ministries help you locate and connect with a New Life Network Counselor in your area. Personalized and confidential referrals are given by phone only. Call New Life at 800-639-5433 TODAY!

Focus on the Family

Focus On The Family is an educational organization consisting of fifty-two separate ministries, each dedicated to the preservation of the home. Recognizing that many families face emotional and spiritual issues that require counseling, Focus On The Family has developed a nationwide network of Christian counselors and Pastors who specialize in counseling. After a free phone assessment, their trained staff can provide a list of counselors in your area and information on cost, including sliding fee scales and voluntary services.

National Association For Christian Recovery (NACR)

The NACR exists to acknowledge and honor the inner challenges of healing. They provide referrals to counselors nationwide and produce a quarterly magazine, STEPS, which is dedicated to issues involving recovery from depression and other disabilities.