Anger, Cancer, Depression, Fear, Words of Endurance

“… And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
JOHN 8:32 (NLT)

Janette and Bill needed a fresh start so the chance to move out of state for a new job opportunity looked like a divine gift. But life after the move was complicated. Bill’s new job didn’t turn out to be what he was promised. Janette was still feeling the pain of wounding words from her previous employer, which made it difficult to handle the stress of her new job. Their children were feeling lonely and insecure as they adjusted to new schools and tried to find new friends. Then just when Janette didn’t think she could handle one more challenge – Bill was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer.

So far from the only home and support system they had ever known, they faced cancer surgery, a colostomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, more surgery and a host of complications and unexpected bills. Janette shifted into ‘survival mode’ and pushed herself to get through each day but the prolonged stress took its toll. She began to experience anxiety attacks – her heart would beat so fast she thought she would die. She was so exhausted she could barely get out of bed in the morning. Fatigue, crying spells, hopelessness, anger, fear and isolation became part of her daily life.

What made things worse was that Janette was dreadfully afraid that she and Bill had done something to cause the difficulties they faced. She had been taught that suffering was almost always caused by personal wrongdoing or a lack of faith. So she believed that she and her husband were somehow responsible for what was happening to their family. Yet she had no idea where they had gone wrong and she couldn’t figure out what horrible sin deserved so much suffering.

No wonder Janette’s perspective on life was shattering. Her emotional health, her views of God and her perspective on suffering were all crumbling under the stress of circumstances and the burden of a perspective that wasn’t true. Although she sensed that she wasn’t seeing things clearly, she was afraid to ask for help. What if her newly made friends at church thought the whole ordeal was due to her personal sin or spiritual weakness too? Where would she find help then?

Fortunately, Janette’s new friends refused to stand by and do nothing. They knew she was hurting and encouraged her to participate in a faith based support group at church. There she began to more closely examine what the Bible taught about suffering.

Then a widowed friend shared about how she struggled with depression following her husband’s death. Her honesty about a personal struggle surprised Janette. Having come from a setting where exposing weakness would result in harsh judgment, her friend’s vulnerability opened Janette’s eyes to the possibility of looking at what was really happening in her own life.

Prompted by another friend, Janette began to list the hardships and losses she had recently endured instead of trying to ignore them. As she did, she realized why she felt overwhelmed, sad and full of anxiety. Who wouldn’t be? The pain she felt wasn’t because of weakness. It was understandable in light of the traumatic losses she had experienced.

Once she faced the truth of those losses, Janette began to grieve. It wasn’t an easy or pleasant process. It was especially heartbreaking for her to realize she no longer thought of God as being wise, loving and caring. But as painful as it was to confront those losses and to uncover the perspective that made them nearly unbearable, Janette is glad she did.

Today as a result of her Bible study and the support of caring friends she has a new perspective. She knows that while some suffering may come as a consequence of our actions of our actions, suffering also comes as part of life. Even more important, she knows that from God’s perspective suffering is an opportunity to draw close to him and she has rediscovered a closer, more personal relationship with her wise and loving God.

As Janette learned we rarely give our perspectives a second thought when life is going well. But when our perspectives shatter and fail us, it is essential to take a close look at what the truth really is so that we can make adjustments in our thinking. Sometimes when our perspective shatters we can finally see the truth clearly and that truth will set us free!

I always try to remind people that as painful as it may be,
truth is always your friend.
No matter how difficult it is to swallow, truth is reality
And that is where ultimate safety, growth and God are.
We need to know the truth.
Sometimes the truth leads us to what is hurting us …
Sometimes it leads us to what we need to change.
At other times it leads us to
what we need to do next in a relationship.
At still other times it leads us to
what our weaknesses or limitations are,
such as what we are not ready to deal with.
But whatever the truth is, it is our friend.

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky


Depression, Grace, Healing, Prayer, Words of Endurance

The Body of Christ is a big part of the delivery system
of healing and growth that God has in store for His people.

When he was a teenager, Henry Cloud dreamed of becoming a professional golfer and he was well on his way to fulfilling that dream. A successful amateur, he was recruited to play NCAA golf in college. But the dream began to fade when he developed severe tendon trouble in his left arm. Doctors couldn’t figure out the cause or how to treat it. Henry’s game suffered and after two years of hampered play, he quit. The dream was over.

One afternoon, alone in his room, Henry tried to figure out what to do next. The enormity of his loss became unbearable. He explains,

“I looked at various interests and majors only to arrive at a deep emptiness and sense of darkness regarding the future. I was at the end of myself. Thoughts about all aspects of life that were not working went through my head like a whirlwind. What will I do? How will I find my way in my career and in my relationships? How can I change into a person who is not so depressed and unable to figure all this out?”

Although the door to professional golf was shut God had other plans for Henry. Slowly Henry’s perspective on what his life would be began to change. He committed his life and his uncertain future to God. He joined a Bible study that helped anchor him spiritually. Yet he still struggled with depression. One day he confided to a Christian friend,

“I asked God to help me but I don’t feel any better. I thought that if you prayed God would make you feel better.”

Because he still felt depressed Henry concluded that God wasn’t doing much in his life but that shattered perspective would change too. Henry’s friend introduced him to Bill and his wife, Julie. Bill was a wonderful Bible teacher who helped Henry discover his love of the Bible and theology. Through conversations with Bill and Julie, Henry discovered that the emptiness he was feeling “was not emptiness at all but sadness and hurt about the loss of my dream to play professional golf.”

As Henry worked through the counseling material Julie gave him and began applying what he was learning, the burden began to lift from his shoulders. Before long, he knew God was calling him to go into Christian counseling.

“Sometime later,” Henry continues, “I realized my depression and feeling of emptiness were gone! I actually felt good about life and about me.” But
Henry was also disappointed and disillusioned. “God had changed my life. My life had taken a 180-degree turn. But God had not healed me when I sought healing. He had not supernaturally ‘zapped’ me.”

As he talked to people about his disappointment, Henry heard the same thing over and over, “God uses people, too.” Henry “hated” hearing that phrase. I wanted God to touch my depression instantaneously and help me. Instead, he used people.”

Henry’s difficulty was that he had always considered God’s supernatural intervention to be true spiritual healing – Plan ‘A.’ He thought that when God used people to heal it was the ‘inferior’, although effective, Plan ‘B.’

“I accepted that I was one of those people who got Plan ‘B.’ So there I was, grateful and somewhat disappointed at my grade ‘B’ healing. It was good but it felt more like sitting in the bleachers than in the box seats.”

Then Henry read a Scripture passage that changed his perspective on how God had been working in his life:

From him the whole body,
joined and held together
by every supporting ligament,
grows and builds itself up in love,
as each part does its work.

Henry couldn’t believe it so he read it again. Plan ‘B’ wasn’t second rate after all! People helping people were in fact God’s Plan ‘A’!

While Henry was waiting for God to share his grace through supernatural ‘zapping’, God was giving it to him through His people.

“I was waiting for Him to speak to me directly; He was speaking to me through his people. I was waiting for him to give me direction in life; he was the strength behind the direction people were giving me. I was waiting for him to heal my depression; He sent special people to comfort me.”

Henry’s perspective on life and how God would work in his life had been completely transformed. He no longer felt as if he had gotten Plan ‘B’ – as if he had received a lesser healing.

“I had received God himself and the healing he had always planned to give through his people.”

We are so thankful that God used Henry Cloud and John Townsend to bring healing to the both of us through their writings and counseling sessions. God restored our shattered perspectives through these two men of God who through their own God gifting brought us to a healing place and there we saw the power of God.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere;
but they all originate in God’s Spirit.
God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere;
but they all originate in God’s Spirit.
God’s various expressions of power
are in action everywhere;
but God himself is behind it all.
Each person is given something to do that shows who God is:
Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky