According to a 2004 Rand Corporation report, depression results in more absenteeism than almost any other physical disorder and costs employers more than US$51 billion per year in absenteeism and lost productivity.
What can you say to a parent who loses a child to cancer? Whatever words we offer are inadequate to lessen their sorrow. We have no answers to questions like, "Why this child?" or "Why now?" and "What do I do now?"
Another question we all ask and cannot answer is, "Where was God and what was He thinking when this horrible thing happened? " For answers, I look to God's written word. It gives me a glimpse into His personality and thoughts.
If God were to telephone and speak to you during times of suffering, perhaps these are some things He might say:
"I know how you feel." God understands the loss of a child because He experienced it. He said to Jesus, "You are my son whom I love." (Mark 1:11) He watched men torture his beloved son. He felt the grief of seeing the people He'd created rebell against Him. "His spirit was grieved." (Isaiah 63:10) The Bible says Jesus was "a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering . . . He carried our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:3) Crucifixion was the most barbaric form of death known to man. It was a cruel, drawn out process. Nails were driven into wrists and ankles. The body was suspended in an abnormal position that crushed the lungs and heart. The pain was excruciating. For this torture, Jesus left the glory of heaven. He left the companionship of angels and the fellowship of His Father for this brutal treatment. He understands suffering like no other can.
In the midst of your struggles, God would say, "I love you." "I have loved you with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3) He demonstrated His great love with the ultimate sacrifice. "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son." (John 3:16)
He would say, "You're not alone. I am with you.." Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, "The Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you." Isaiah 43:2 reads, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you." And Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, "I am with you always."
He would say, "I want to bless you." "He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all. Will He not also graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) Anyone who would give so great a gift at such a great cost must certainly have only our best interest at heart.
God would assure you that, "Nothing bad in this world can separate us." "Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons . . . nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God." (Romans 8:35-39)
God would tell you, "Pain is part of life." "In this world, you will have trouble." (John 16:33a)
But He would also say, "Take heart." The next part of that verse says, "But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
He would tell you, "Lean on me." "Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
He would say, "Trust me." "My peace I give to you . . . Do not be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:28)
He would promise, "I can make you strong." "My strength is made perfect in (your) weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
He would say, "I can bring good, even from tragedy.." "In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him." (Romans 8:28)
He would say, "Ultimately, nothing â€" not even death â€" can hurt you, if you belong to me; because, through my son, you have the hope of eternal life." "Death where is your victory . . . Where is your sting? Death has been swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Even with the King of Kings leading us through life, it will be difficult; but we can endure, and even overcome, any struggle. He can strengthen us with the knowledge that no matter what happens in this lifetime, nothing here can steal our hope of the eternal treasure He wants to give us. He's created an everlasting kingdom where pain, suffering, tears and death will no longer exist; and He offers that home to all who will come.
Life may be filled with sorrow, but it won't be as hopeless with Jesus as it would be without Him.
When we're suffering, only God can provide the perfect peace for which our hearts long. God's love carries us through anything and overcomes any situation, burden, or grief -- no matter how great.
The heart of Christianity revolves around a tragic and unjust death. The best man who ever lived -- an innocent man -- had to suffer, so how can we expect lives free from pain and sorrow? Yet, God brought life and good out of the tragedy of Jesus' death. He can do the same with our suffering too, if through that suffering we grow closer to Him.
Author Marsha Jordan is founder of a nonprofit charity called Hugs and Hope for Sick Children (http://www.hugsandhope.org). More of her articles on depression are in her book, Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter, a compilation of essays illustrated with drawings by critically ill children.
In this book, the author combines hope with humor, drawing upon her own experience of living with chronic pain and depression. She opens her life and her heart to share everyday experiences and the lessons God has taught her from them. Her thought-provoking essays are illustrated with drawings created by children battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Anyone who has ever been discouraged or faced tough times will be encouraged by essays about everything from husbands, wild bears, and a day in the emergency room, to aging, in-laws, and living with chronic illness.
Other essays in the book include, "More Than I Can Handle," "Ten Tips For Beating Depression," "Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?" and "What Did I Do To Deserve This?" Learn more at http://www.hugsandhope.org/book.htm