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Anger, Depression, Grief, In Your Darkness, Perseverance, Trust, Words of Endurance

I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
PSALM 63:8



I wanted to run away but I couldn’t. I was angry. He had me stuck between a rock and a hard place. There was no other way for me to turn but to Him. I identified with King David when he said,



You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
PSALM 139:5,7



I shook my fist at Him and cried, “Lord, I hate where I am right now and I don’t understand why. I know your Word is the Truth and the Way so I am going to turn to your Word. So watch out Lord – I am going to learn and hold you to the promises you have made to your children in your Word.”



It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
PSALM 119:71



I had no idea what a monumental step this was for me. I memorized and clung to His promises. I hid them in my heart and cried them out to Him in my darkest hours. His promises comforted me and gave me Hope even though at times I feared they would be true for everyone else but me.



My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
PSALM 119:50



What was most awesome was that God was faithful to every one of His promises for me even in the midst of my fear and doubt. Please know those same promises were made for you too. I urge you to cling to His promises and recall His faithfulness as the Prophet Jeremiah did in the midst of his darkness …



Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
LAMENTATIONS 3:21-23



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Peace, Prayer, The Ultimate Treasure, Words of Endurance

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105



Scripture is more than ink on paper. It is God’s voice, His living Word, and it has the power to infuse our hearts with hope in a way nothing else can. Whenever our pain or circumstances blind us to God’s presence, love, counsel and peace, we can still find Him in the pages of the Bible. His Word can light the way through the darkness. It is the treasure at our fingertips.



To give you a head start in discovering this treasure for yourself, we want to share with you some of the priceless gems uncovered by some of your fellow sojourners.



Rick Rood calls the Word of God, “a river of grace to my heart.” Shortly after his wife was diagnosed with a debilitating illness, Rick found the following Scripture passage that became both a light for his path and instruction for the journey.



Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Psalm 55:22 (NASB)



Lucy MacIntosh sensed and feared the destructive power in the darkness she faced. During those desperate days, she clung to Jeremiah 29:11 because “this verse promised me that God’s plans for good could not be destroyed. Since that time, this has become my life verse.”



“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11



After her injury, there were many times when Ruth Miller could not read Scripture.“I was so angry at God’s lack of action,” she explains, that “until I could handle reading Scripture, which came after about a year, every day I read just two verses: Psalm 31:14-15. These two verses gave me focus through my tears.”



But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.
Psalm 31:14-15 (KJV)



Joanie Thompson considers Isaiah 50:4 to be one of the most important verses in her life, especially during times of suffering. It gives her hope that God will use her suffering to alleviate the suffering of others.



The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
Isaiah 50:4



When she was too sick to read her Bible, Michelle Dacus posted 1 Peter 5:10 -11 on her bathroom mirror and on her nightstand.“Those verses reminded me that God would do something powerful with my suffering. It gave me hope that my pain wouldn’t be wasted.”



And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever.
1 Peter 5:10-11



“As Dave and I walked through the darkness” Jan Dravecky recalls, “the Bible became our lifeline, the compass that steered us through the confusion and doubts that are part of the darkness…The verse that comforted me most in my darkest days was John 10:27-29. Dave clung to 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, which later became the guiding verse for the Outreach of Hope.”



My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
John 10:27-29



Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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Prayer, The Ultimate Treasure, Words of Endurance

by Kim Jones



I found God in the darkness. Or, to be more accurate, God found me— and I wasn’t even looking for Him!



There’s no doubt I was in a desperate situation. I had no answers and absolutely no escape. But because I was an atheist, it never occurred to me to look to God for solutions. My heart wavered between despair and desperation, but even more troubling was the fact that I couldn’t get away from the gnawing sense that someone or something was trying to get my attention.



As it turns out, several friends had been praying for me. They weren’t prayer giants. In fact, they were all new to their faith. They simply were asking God to somehow intervene and introduce Himself to their struggling friend. They not only prayed but through their acts of kindness and genuine concern, they began to lovingly and gently show me a picture I had never seen before—a picture of who God was. (Unfortunately, a few other “friends” assaulted me with Bible verses and pointed out all of my shortcomings, which was a really bad idea that set me back a few months.)



In my more gracious and gentle friends, I saw something that was missing in my own life—something I wanted. But in my mind, God didn’t exist, so I couldn’t understand that a relationship with Him was what set my friends apart. God understood my confusion, and in His mercy, He tracked me down until I could deny Him no longer. His overwhelming love pursued me through the darkness until I could resist Him no longer.



I know that everyone’s journey from darkness to light, everyone’s discovery of treasure, is different. God knows exactly what it will take to get our attention. Like a good Daddy, He’ll pull out all the stops to make sure we don’t miss Him, especially when we need Him most. That’s where you, as a friend or loved one of someone who is wandering in the darkness of suffering, can make a difference. You can be the friend who is gracious and gentle in demonstrating the love of God. You can be the one who prays for your friend who is struggling to find God in the darkness.



Asing God to Reveal His Treasure

Whenever you pray for friends or loved ones who are struggling to find treasure in the darkness, you can ask God to:

  • Draw them to Himself. No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him (John 6:44).
  • Surround them with believers. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields (Matthew 9:38 NLT).
  • Help them understand who God is. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (Ephesians 1:17).
  • Give them a hunger for God. O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1).

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Hope, Pain, The Ultimate Treasure, Words of Endurance

Sometimes You Just Need to Know Where to Look



Just because God doesn’t show up in the way we want or expect him to doesn’t mean He isn’t with us in our darkness. Sometimes it is easier to see Him if we know where and how to look:



Through Our Circumstances

During his wife’s extended battle with a degenerative illness, Rick Rood kept a journal in which he “recorded evidences of God’s hand on our lives. During the next twenty years, I returned to this discipline many times. Today, this journal is one of my most precious possessions because it is full of the record of God’s faithfulness to us.”



But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going. I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch. These are the things I’ll be doing for them— sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.
Isaiah 42:16 (MSG)



Through His People

When we question where God is, we need look no further than the hands of those who have fed, encouraged and comforted us to see that He has been with us in the darkness all along.“Sometimes all you have is a person who touches you or brings you water, ”Joanie Thompson explains, “and that is Him.”



Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (MSG)



Through His Word

“When our pain blinded Dave and me to God’s presence,” Jan Dravecky shares, “the Bible assured us of His love.” Another woman wrote, “So many times I needed God to give me direction, to speak hope into my broken heart. I didn’t get the burning bush I wanted. Instead, God spoke to me through His Word.”



If I had not loved your teachings, I would have died from my sufferings.
Psalm 119:92 (NCV)

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Doubt, Faith, Fear, Hope, The Ultimate Treasure, Words of Endurance

Joanie Thompson was well acquainted with the world of suffering and how God could make His presence known in the midst of it. Through her prayer ministry, she had seen God’s love, peace and unmistakable presence touch the hearts of the broken women who had come to her for prayer. She marveled again and again at the unique way God would reveal Himself and meet the true need of each woman’s wounded heart. He never failed to pierce the darkness of each woman’s pain with the light of His love.



Many hurting women had walked out of Joanie’s prayer room with a renewed sense of God’s love, a healed heart and a treasured, personal experience with God’s mercy. Then Joanie became sick. Over a period of months, her health began to deteriorate. Her breathing became labored. She tired easily and had no stamina. It was her turn to receive what she had often seen God provide for others.



For two years, Joanie suffered without knowing what was wrong with her. Exhaustion limited everything, even the amount of time she could spend with family and friends. Her prayer ministry had to be curtailed. Doctors eventually diagnosed her with a chronic lung disease, but there was little they could do to help. They could improve her lung function with steroids, but the severe migraines that resulted were almost worse than the disease. The doctors couldn’t predict whether her condition would improve over time. But the worst part was that Joanie had prayed—as she had for so many others—for God to be near her in her time of darkness, yet God seemed distant and silent when she needed Him the most.



Joanie was not the first of God’s children to question His promise to be “close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18). Job cried out to God,“Why do you hide your face?” (Job 13:24). King David pleaded with God,“Oh my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer” (Psalm 22:2). Such experiences have caused many of us to wonder why, if God wants to give us treasures in the darkness so we’ll know that He is God, there are times when we just can’t seem to find Him.



The knowledge that other people have felt alone in the darkness of their suffering can be consoling. After all, giants of the faith—even Jesus—have felt abandoned by God (Matthew 27:46). Perhaps the inability to “connect” with God is, at least for some of us, part of the journey rather than a random, isolated experience. But why does God allow His presence to be hidden from us when we need and long for it the most?



We may never understand the why, but there is good news in the unanswered question. Our struggle to connect with God is evidence that our relationship with Him truly matters. It is evidence that although our faith may be threatened by the harsh reality of suffering, it is far from dead. And when God is hidden by the darkness, we may realize:

  • How desperately we want and need Him (see Psalm 73:25).
  • That every word of the Bible is true (see Mark 13:31).
  • That we are being prepared for a greater ministry (see 2 Corinthians 2:3-6).
  • That we have no source of true meaning and hope other than God (see John 6:67-69).
  • That earth is not our true home. Our hearts long to be with God in heaven, in uninterrupted relationship with Him forever (see Psalm 84:1-10).
  • That God is with us, and when we can’t perceive Him we must learn to live by faith (see 1 Peter 1:6-7).



God never “showed up” in the way Joanie expected, but she did find treasure in her relationship with Him—treasure that can never be hidden.



When God seemed hidden from sight, Joanie learned that her faith rested on what God had already done, not on what He was doing in the present. She realized that Jesus died on a cross and rose again to prove the extent of His extravagant love for her. History confirms it. Scripture details it. So whether or not she could feel His nearness in her present suffering, she knew He was already with her. In time, Joanie quit wrestling with the “Why didn’t He come?” question because, as she explains it,“He had already come. I realized that I still had the cross. Sometimes that is all we have, but it is enough.”



Dear God,
I am desperate in this darkness.
Please speak to me through Your Word.
Open my eyes, unstop my ears, soften my heart, so that I might see You in these pages,
hear Your voice speak these words
and be open to Your instruction.
Give me a hunger for Your Word.
Give me wisdom to understand it.
Guide my hands and my heart to a Scripture that will light the path before me.
Lead to me to a quiet place and time
where Your words can sink into my heart
and transform the darkness inside.
Amen.

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Hope, The Ultimate Treasure, Words of Endurance

Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God
ISAIAH 50:10



Pastor Ron Mehl was intimately familiar with the landscape of suffering. For 22 years, he lived in the shadowlands of a long-term cancer battle. For at least 15 of those years, he was in chemotherapy, and for the last decade of his life, his entire body ached as if he had a terrible case of the flu. Despite this deep physical trial, Ron lived a full life as a dedicated pastor, worldwide speaker and author of more than a dozen books. In one of the last books he wrote, Ron shared his secret to navigating the landscape of suffering and finding treasure there as well.



The great key in all of life is to surrender to God. The best and most appropriate thing you can ever do is turn to the Lord with all your heart. If it takes some set of overwhelming circumstances to push you into His arms, then count those circumstances as your friends…



Surrendering is a good idea when you are facing dark and hopeless times. But always surrender to God, not to the circumstances. There is a very big difference.



It’s one thing to sigh and shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, there’s nothing I can do,” and it’s another thing altogether to surrender your situation to the Lord who loves you. When you surrender your life and your circumstances to God, everything changes.



Yielding to His will and His plan is step number one. Once that is done, you can begin to ask Him some questions as you pray. Perhaps you might say something like this: “God, what do You see?” In other words, “How does this situation look from Your vantage point? Please help me to find Your perspective on my situation.”



The second question you might ask is, “God, what are You going to do?”



Third, you might ask, “God what should I be doing?”



In other words, “God I don’t know what’s going on here. I know what I see, but I want to look to You. So I’m asking You for wisdom to let me see these things as they truly are.”



When I’m facing a trial or a difficult circumstance, I find that I need a refresher course on God. I need to remind myself about the parting of the Red Sea. I need to remember about the manna from heaven, how Jesus healed the blind man, and how He stilled the storm with a single word.



I give myself a quick refresher course on God and His blessings to me, and that helps me surrender to Him… not to my circumstances.

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