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Anxiety, Breaking the Chains of Worry, Hope, Prayer, Words of Endurance

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 (NLT)



Something will wake me up in the middle of my sleep – usually it is a hot flash, bathroom stop or Dave tossing and turning. And right when I am ready to snuggle in and go back to sleep – BAM – that is when they hit me and overtake any hope for sleep – WORRIES – my terrors of the night! And to make matters worse, my worries always seem bigger – more magnified – more terrifying in the middle of the night.



I have learned though that focusing and ruminating on all of my worries brings no resolution to my problems or cares nor does it allow for sleep but bringing my cares before God – my helper – does.



Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 PETER 5:7 (NLT)



How awesome is it that we as children of God can take our worries to God and know that He hears our prayers.



The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
PSALM 34:17



AND He not only hears our prayers but He answers them.



I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.
PSALM 120:1



AND it is even more comforting and assuring knowing that …



Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us,
to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
EPHESIANS 3:20 (NLT)



So now when I wake up in the middle of the night and my terrors of the night consume me – I turn to God, give Him all my worries and cares through prayer and then …



I will lie down and sleep in peace,
For you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
PSALM 4:8

I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.
PSALM 63:6-8 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Healing, Hope, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

Michelle Dacus had confidence that God was with her and was working in her life, but making it through each day of her recovery from major reconstructive surgery was a struggle – to put it mildly. Her doctors had no idea how long her debilitating leg pain would last. They couldn’t even promise that it would get better. As a formerly active and energetic 18-year-old, she simply could not imagine a life of constant pain, around the clock medical care, and never being able to walk again.



As she faced the harsh reality of her situation, Michelle remembers asking the Lord what possible purpose her pain could serve. When she received no discernable answer, she resigned herself to trusting God no matter what. She remembers praying, “Lord, I’m going to have to trust you because if I get angry, my spirit will be worse; I’ll be empty. I’m choosing to trust You to work in my life even when I have no clue as to what You’re doing.”



Then the darkness completely overwhelmed her. Michelle was hospitalized with a life-threatening infection. For seven days she batted a 106-degree fever. She was packed on ice and put on powerful medications. “Being in the hospital again was my low point,” Michelle explains. “I just had a sick feeling of ‘Lord, where is this going?'”



When her fever broke, Michelle went home, but in her heart she was ready to go home to heaven. “I said to the Lord, ‘I just give up. I surrender. I am ready just to be with You.’ I remember praying, ‘just take me home.’ I felt that if I woke up in the morning and was still on earth, I would be disappointed.”



The next morning, Michelle woke up – in her bedroom. But something was different. She actually noticed the rose her father had placed on her nightstand, something he had done many times during her illness. “Up to that point, the flowers seemed like just another reminder of my sickness. But I smelled this rose, and it smelled good. I felt as if the Lord was saying to me that this was a turning point, a new beginning. That morning I knew in my heart that God had chosen to keep me going.”



Slowly, Michelle began to heal. When she was strong enough to read the Bible for herself, she remembered a card that her Sunday school teacher had given her before the surgery. Curious, she looked up the Isaiah 45:3 Scripture reference written inside. “As I read it, I just started weeping. It was as if I could hear the Lord speaking directly to me, ‘I will give you the treasure of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by name.’ When I read it, my heart was restored. It was as if the light came on.” That very morning she began recording in her journal all of the riches and treasures God had given her in the darkness.



When she was finally strong enough to go to church for the first time, Michelle received even more treasures from the hand of God. “I walked down the aisle with my walker and every family in our church was clapping. Then, as I was looking at the bulletin, I saw that we were going to sing my favorite hymn, ‘It Is Well With My Soul.’ I just cried. It was such a gift to stand with my walker and sing to God:



When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul



“Being able to worship him at that time affirmed everything. I had known of God’s faithfulness in my head, but that morning I discovered I could sing that hymn from my heart.”



Today Michelle carried in her journal a written testimony of God’s faithfulness during her illness, and she carries those treasures in her heart as well. “The greatest treasures God gave me in the darkness aren’t tangible,” she explains. “I can look at my body and see that God healed it, but the treasures in my heart aren’t visible. I want everyone who goes through the darkness to know that they can receive these treasures too.



“Being in the darkness gives us a special opportunity to find a place of contentment with the Lord – even when everything in life is upside down. Often we can’t see the treasures when we’re in the midst of the darkness. I know I didn’t. But, if we can endure through Christ’s strength, He’ll give us a treasure that will outlast the riches of the wealthiest man on earth. The riches of earth will perish. We cannot take them with us. But the treasures gleaned in the darkness of suffering are eternal. I’ll take those treasures with me for the rest of my life – and into eternity.”

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Cancer, Pain, Treasures in the Darkness, Trust, Words of Endurance

An outgoing and gregarious teenager, Michelle Dacus was president of her school’s Christian Club and active in her church. She looked forward to graduating from high school and heading off to college where she planned to prepare for a future in social work. But just weeks before graduation, excruciating kidney pain sent her to the emergency room. For the next six months, Michelle’s life was dictated by trips to the ER, catheters, and kidney infections.



This was not Michelle’s first encounter with pain and suffering. When she was just eighteen months old, she had an advanced, life-threatening cancer that engulfed several of her internal organs. For four years, doctors tried to arrest the cancer without harming those organs. It was a delicate balancing act, and much of her treatment was experimental. Doctors told her parents that she probably wouldn’t survive. Yet Michelle survived those difficult years and credits her recovery to “the doctor’s wisdom and the Lord having a plan for my life.”



More than a decade later, however, Michelle’s life was again threatened, this time as a result of the experimental treatments that once had saved it. She needed major surgery to rebuild and repair several damaged organs. Surgery was scheduled for the winter break of her freshman year in college.



Although Michelle did not know how long or difficult her recovery might be, she remembers the drive to the hospital. “I was at peace and ready to get everything taken care of. I knew God was going to come through and be faithful once again.”



After surgery, she remembers seeing her mom’s tears of relief. And she can never forget the pain. “It was as if I had lightning bolts running through my legs. It hurt so much I didn’t want to move a muscle.” The surgery had stretch the nerves in both of Michelle’s legs, leaving her nearly paralyzed and in constant pain. “It was the most severe pain in my entire life,” she says. “I would just lie there, crying. My mom would rub my legs day and night trying to soothe the pain.”



The darkness continued closing in. Instead of returning to college after Christmas break, Michelle returned to her bedroom. For the next three months, she lived in pajamas, unable to walk. She was on such strong pain medication that she was barely able to eat. Her weight dropped to 86 pounds. “I was completely helpless. My Mom had to do everything – even brush my teeth. I had a walker in my room, and with my Mom’s help I would practice standing up and leaning on the walk. It took every ounce of every I had just to do that. There I was, a lively 18-year-old who was supposed to be in college and I could barely get out of bed. I just couldn’t believe how far down I’d gone.”



Like many others who have walked a similar path through suffering, Michelle desperately wanted to feel God’s presence during those dark months. She wanted to focus on God’s Word, but she was too weak even to hold her Bible. She was in too much pain to read. “That was such a hard time mentally and emotionally. I knew God was doing something, but I didn’t know what and I couldn’t feel His presence. But I knew He was there and working.”



God knew exactly what He was doing. Years before, He had prepared a treasure for Michelle that would help her through the overwhelming darkness. Michelle’s only memory of her battle with childhood cancer is a brief moment in a hospital isolation room. “I was only two or three years old, and I remember being alone in a very quiet room. I could see my parents on the other side of the glass and I wanted to be with them. I put both of my hands on the glass and looked at my mom on the other side. She put her hands on the glass opposite mine and whispered, ‘I love you.'”



Michelle considers the memory of her mom whispering to her through the glass to be a gift from God. “God might have given me that memory because that’s how He is. He’s right there, on the other side of the glass. Even though we can’t feel or touch Him, He is there.” Just as she saw her mother on the other side of the glass so many years before, Michelle sensed God whispering to her, “I’m here with you, and I see your suffering. This is in my hands. It will not last forever.”



That image was a priceless treasure that gave Michelle hope. “My natural tendency was to lie in bed and never get out. But the image I had of God saying, ‘Push through, this isn’t going to last forever,’ gave me hope. I knew that God was with me, so I knew that the pain was either going to end or I was going to go home with Jesus.” That treasure gave her a glimmer of hope that no darkness could overcome.



Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.
1 Corinthians 13:12(NCV)

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