Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
All of us who have faced cancer know what it is to be in the ‘depths.’ We know what it is to struggle with depression.
Depression is an experience of sorrow in response to a loss which threatens our self-esteem or future hope. The actual and potential losses that come with cancer are many, both for the person with cancer and for all who know and love someone who has cancer.
This sorrow is an important part of our adapting to the reality of cancer. It is a natural consequence of our commitment to face this difficult reality and to be honest about all it means in our life. Fortunately, this sorrow does not stay with us forever. It comes and goes as we ride the emotional roller coaster of living with cancer. But when depression does visit us, it can be a very unwelcome guest.
Depression is like living in the depths of a dark well. When we are in this well, there seems to be no way out. Everything seems dark. We have negative thoughts about ourselves, about our future, about others and even about God.
It is not uncommon when we are depressed to wonder if God is displeased with us. We may wonder if God will withdraw from us until we can “get our act together” and “cheer up.” But God does not withdraw from us in our darkest moments. It is, instead, in those moments that God moves even closer to us with compassionate and mercy. The psalmist tells us:
The Lord is close to the broken hearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Jesus was known as “the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” We can trust him to understand and to honor his promise to be close to us when we are sorrowing.
Dealing with depression can be made a bit easier by doing things like taking a walk, listening to good music, talking to a friend, and reading the promises of Scripture. In times of depression, we need hope. Jesus is not only the man of sorrows, he is also the source of our hope. He has committed himself to us as Healer, Comforter and Friend.
May you find God to be close to you when you are broken hearted. May your hope in God’s unfailing love for you be renewed with each new day.
Questions for Discussion – Session 1
1. In your journey with cancer, what times have been the most discouraging for you?
2. What about being depressed is the most difficult for you?
3. What has helped you when you have been depressed?
Questions for Discussion – Session 2
1. We often have negative responses to our ourselves when we are depressed. What negative thoughts do you have about yourself when you are depressed?
2. Paraphrase Psalm 34:18, using your own words.
3. How might it be helpful to you to think of God as close to you when you are depressed?