Relationships, Words of Endurance

It’s hard enough to keep healthy, balanced relationships when life is going well, but when we find ourselves on the rocky, unpredictable road of adversity, it’s almost impossible. Relationships get complicated – fast. Family and friends of those who are suffering often feel like they’re walking on eggshells, never quite sure what is expected of them, what to do, how much to help, when to back away, or what to say. Sometimes they react in extremes: undermining the cancer patient’s self-esteem by doing too much and interfering in every aspect of life or totally withdrawing.

The Bible, God’s manual for healthy relationships, provides some guidelines that can help us deal with the changing needs of relationships under stress. These guidelines remind us of our true needs and suggest ways to meet those needs without stepping on toes, abandoning, or demeaning the one who is suffering.

What I Need

I need your presence when I’m suffering (Job 6:14).

I need your prayers. At times my suffering makes me feel far from God and my prayer life suffers because of it (Ephesians 6:18).

I need your God-given gifts to strengthen and encourage me (1 Peter 4:10).

I need your strength to help me carry my burden (Galatians 6:2).

I need your unconditional love when I’m not lovely (2 Timothy 1:16-18).

Sometimes I need your advice when I’m not sure what to do (Proverbs 12:15).

I need you to accept my tears and to acknowledge the pain that prompted them (Romans 12:15).

I need your silence at times to acknowledge the depth of my pain (Job 2:11-13).

I need to be left alone sometimes to sort out my emotions and talk with God (Matthew 14:23).

I need your hand to reach down and lift me up when I fall (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

I need to know your struggles so that I can serve you and not just focus on my pain (Philippians 2:4).

How I Need It

Please keep your promise to be near. Your presence reminds me that God hasn’t forgotten me (Proverbs 3:28).

The greatest gift you can give me is to connect me to God, to life my needs before Him (Mark 2:1-5).

I need your gifts to be motivated by love – not pity or a need to “fix” or correct me (1 Corinthians 13:8,13).

Please don’t try to carry my whole burden. You’ll undermine my self-esteem and independence (Galatians 6:5).

When you withdraw from me, my sorrow only increases (Job 6:14-17).

I need support and encouragement more than advice, so please give advice only when I ask for it (Proverbs 12:18).

Tears may be uncomfortable, but I need to express my pain. Don’t minimize my sorrow. Let me cry (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

Suffering is sacred ground that often defies explanation and, therefore, word (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

I know my needs can be hard to figure out. They’re confusing to me, too, so you’ll need to let the Holy Spirit lead and direct you (Galatians 5:18).

I don’t need an explanation or judgement as to why I’m down (James 4:12).

Don’t try to protect me from your pain. It makes me feel as if I have no value as a friend or as a believer (Galatians 6:2).


Anger, Perseverance, Relationships, Words of Endurance

by Jan Dravecky

When Dave was pitching for the San Francisco Giants, we had a good life. We had a good marriage, two great kids, and a growing relationship with God. We had good friends and some close relationships, but baseball life had moved us around enough that we found it difficult to maintain close relationships. We had each other. What more could we need?

We approached Dave’s cancer, with all its career – and life-changing implications, in much the same way we handled anything else – thinking that our relationship with each other was all we needed to get through it. After all, our culture teaches us that the one person you can trust, the one person you can lean on, is yourself and that each of us has everything we need within ourselves. So the fact that Dave and I also had each other seemed to be more than enough. We were in for a surprise.

As Dave’s cancer progressed, we found ourselves in a predicament. Dave was too sick to be a support to me, and when I became depressed, I was unable to be a support to him. We reached a point at which we no longer had each other for emotional support. By the time we had moved away from our baseball friends, and we had no close friends on whom we could lean. Plus, because we were so accustomed to depending on ourselves, we didn’t know how to need and depend on other people. We were surprised to discover how important it is to be able to count on the support that comes through close relationships with other people during an extended time of suffering.

When I lost Dave’s emotional support, I didn’t know what to do. I was dying inside because I didn’t have anyone else in my life on whom I would lean. The one person I had needed most in my life was my mother, and when she died so suddenly, a part of me decided to never need anyone that much again. So I stood alone.

My fear of loss in close relationships didn’t change the fact that I was human and that I needed those relationships, however. The line from the song Barbara Streisand made famous, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” is very true. God created us with the need for close relationships, and He has provided other people to meet that need. In Genesis 2:18, we read that God considered Adam and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” That simple sentence helped me realize that we are made to need other people and that we will suffer if we don’t have those relationships.

When you are suffering, every relationship you have is tested.

We no only need relationships with other people, we also need to have healthy relationships. It wasn’t enough for me to know that I needed close relationships in my life and to seek them out. I also needed to learn what makes those relationships healthy. When you go through a period of suffering, it is especially important to have and maintain healthy relationships. It is also more challenging to do so because when you are suffering, every relationship you have is tested.

Relationships have to endure through the many changes that suffering brings. In our case, we went from one extreme to another. When we realized that we needed other close relationships, that we needed other people involved in our lives, we discovered that we had friends who would stand by us. They stepped in and let us lean on them. That was wonderful, but we leaned on them too much. We encouraged them to take responsibility for areas of our lives and to make decisions for which we needed to take responsibility. They became used to running our lives, and when we were well enough to once again take responsibility for those areas, they were hurt. By resuming our responsibilities, we appeared to be rejecting them and their care for us, which was not the case at all. We simply needed to take back responsibilities that were rightfully ours. It took time for the changes in those relationships to be accepted and for the hurt to heal.

An added trial for relationships that endure through suffering is that all the imperfections in the relationship become exaggerated. For example, you may have been in a relationship in which one particular thing irritated you. For years you may have consciously overlooked that one thing. But after dealing with suffering for a period of time, your patience runs out. You’re tired, you’ve given all you have to give, and that one little thing you have ignored for years comes up. And suddenly you can’t handle it. You become angry, you burst into tears, you criticize – whatever. The presence of another’s imperfection brings your imperfection bubbling to the surface!

Clashing imperfections can lead to a relational meltdown, but they don’t have to. Within healthy relationships, there is a recognition that each one of us is imperfect. Healthy relationships are seasoned with grace. Grace accepts a person for who he or she is inside regardless of the behavior that surfaces when the person is under stress. Grace realizes that suffering brings out the worst in a person and loves the person in spite of it. Grace realizes that the person is probably just as horrified about his or her imperfect behavior as you are.

When Dave was battling cancer, he was at times very angry. I remember thinking, Oh, he doesn’t want to be this way. I knew who Dave really was. I knew that the “good stuff” was still there. Grace remembers that despite the ugly stuff that comes to the surface, the good stuff is still there. I have that grace for Dave, and he has that grace for me. So our relationship endures. It’s not conditional.

Conditional love, whether it is in a marriage, a friendship, or another family relationship, will be challenged by suffering. Unconditional love endures because it accepts and loves no matter what. This does not mean that a person becomes a doormat. Appropriate boundaries and respect are essential in a healthy relationship.

It’s no secret that relationships suffer when we suffer. Unhealthy relationships can be especially tumultuous. Despite the challenges we encounter, relationships remain extremely important. Relationships help us endure trials that would otherwise cause us to fall. But it’s important to walk in grace and forgiveness so that those relationships can be what God intends them to be. If we persevere, we will find that our relationships will mature and become some of the most precious blessings in this life – and in the life to come.


Hope, Perseverance, Purpose in Suffering?, The Search for Answers, Trust, Words of Endurance

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good
of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son,
so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
ROMANS 8:28-29 (NLT)

Probably one of the most quoted scripture shared with those who suffer is “… God causes everything to work together for the good …”. While Dave and I were in the midst of our pain and we would hear these words, we would think, “What good can come out of cancer, loss of arm and career, depression and the loss of loved ones?”

As we looked to the Scripture for answers we noticed that verse 28 is often quoted alone without verse 29. Verse 29 is important because it qualifies verse 28 and answered our question: The good that comes from our suffering is so that we may “… become like his Son …”.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. PHILIPPIANS 1:6 (NLT)

Please know that while we were in the midst of our trials we were not aware of the good work that was being done within us. But now that we are on the other side of our valley we cannot deny the good that has come out of our suffering. (Remember that hindsight is 20/20!)

  • We learned God’s Word. It was and still is our lifeline. PSALM 119:71

  • We learned that God could be trusted in the midst of our trials even when we did not understand.

  • He directed our path. We know we can trust Him in every trial. PROVERBS 3:5-6

  • We learned that God’s presence was not dependent upon our feelings. HEBREWS 13:5

  • We learned to persevere in the midst of suffering and our character matured – molded and shaped by the affliction. JAMES 1:2-4

  • Our faith was refined and our convictions were strengthened. 1 PETER 1:7

  • The ministry, Endurance, was birthed. We answered the call to comfort others as we ourselves were comforted by God. 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-5

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.
He brought me to this position
so I could save the lives of many people.
(Words of Joseph, son of Jacob, spoken to his brothers who sold him into slavery years before.)

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky