I've been dealing with depression, in various degrees, for about 30 years. Some of the valleys have been really, really deep. The consuming hopelessness takes over every moment of every day.
On top of that, I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in 2011.
But through it all, the Lord has been indescribably gracious to me:
- Even before I knew Him, He gave me times of respite from the depression.
- In the deepest valleys, He gave me the strength to just keep breathing. It wasn't "one day at a time," but "one moment at a time."
- He sent me friends who reminded me of His promises, who listened to me, who showed me compassion, who walked alongside me, who encouraged me, and who never said "Snap out of it."
- On the day of my call-back mammogram, He lifted my depression. He carried that burden for me for months.
- After my suspicious mammogram, He led me to an outstanding surgical oncologist. I'd called the office to make an appointment with the primary doctor in the practice, but her schedule was jammed for months. Her associate, however, was exactly the right doctor to help me through the biopsy, diagnosis, and surgery.
- During my radiation therapy, He gave me opportunities to show His love to others. Our appointments were the same time every day, so I saw the same women every day. One day another patient in the waiting room learned that her mother had passed away. She was distraught, and God worked out the timing so that I could stand with her, hold her hand, and just be with her while she waited for a family member to pick her up. The next time I saw her, she said that I was an angel sent to her.
- Fast forward to the middle of last year. My primary doctor, who had been treating my depression, suggested that I see a specialist. I found one through online reviews and "Best Doctors" magazine articles. When I called his office to make an appointment, the secretary gave me an appointment with another doctor. She has been excellent. She has stayed in close contact, encouraged me, and persisted in trying to find the right combination of medications. It's been a challenge, because every patient is different. But recently we have hit upon a combination that has been wonderful. I haven't felt this good for this long in as long as I can remember.
- Just last week I received a letter from my surgeon who said that I'm ready to "graduate" into the survivorship program. I'm not yet sure exactly what that means, but it's a step forward!
God has been so good to me! In thinking about trials, though, I know that mine don't compare to what Jesus went through during His life on earth.
Isaiah wrote that Jesus was "a man of suffering, and familiar with pain." He was despised, betrayed, beaten, humiliated, and crucified. Even worse, I think, was that He knew how His life on earth would end. Yet He endured the suffering and pain for you and for me. So that through His sacrifice we could have eternal life. So that we might have hope instead of despair.
About carrying that cross? Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
He has given me not only hope for the future, but also rest for my soul. It's truly an incomparable gift.