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Doubt, Endurance for the Journey, Fear, Grace, Healing, Hope, Lighten Your Load, Words of Endurance

I am not saying this because I am in need,
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
PHILIPPIANS 4:11-13



As a Christian athlete, whenever I was being tested physically, my mantra was always –



“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
PHILIPPIANS 4:13



When I was stricken with cancer, I would recite this same verse over and over reminding myself that I, too, could overcome this new obstacle. But after several surgeries and radiation, I was seriously weakened and I began to doubt whether I had the strength to ever overcome this one. I was frustrated with my own weakness and inability to overcome.



A friend of mine was aware of my weakened and discouraged state, and decided that I could use some encouragement. He asked his friend, Chuck Swindoll, a well-known pastor and author, to give me a call and encourage me. Since I had listened to Chuck on the radio for years and admired him greatly, I was thrilled when I answered the phone and realized it was he who was calling me.



Chuck told me that he wanted to call and encourage me with a vignette that he was writing on Philippians 4:11-13. I remember immediately popping up and saying proudly to him that Philippians 4:13 was one of my favorite life verses.



He responded gently back to me and said, “Yes, Dave that is a powerful verse but your emphasis should not be on verse 13 alone but also on verses 11 and 12 that proceed that verse.”



He then shared that Paul stated that he had learned the secret of contentment no matter what his circumstances. He pointed out that Paul was under house arrest at the time. He had experienced poverty and prosperity, being filled and going hungry, having abundance and suffering need – yet in all circumstances he experienced contentment.



Chuck then shared “Contentment is possible no matter how dire your circumstances. The secret to Paul’s contentment was knowing Christ’s strength was perfected in his weakness.” He then quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 where Paul wrote:



But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake,
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10



When I considered that Christ’s strength was perfected in my weakness – my own inability to overcome – I experienced contentment because I knew I could trust Him no matter how dire my circumstances – no matter how weak I am.



What is the secret of contentment even through the trials of life? Focus on Jesus not your circumstances.



My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
PSALM 73:26



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Anger, Endurance for the Journey, Grief, Lighten Your Load, Perspectives, Trust, Words of Endurance

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering,
as though something strange were happening to you.
1 PETER 4:12



No one wants to suffer – no one enjoys suffering – it is even worse when we are taken by surprise – blindsided by the painful trial – there is no perfect time to fit suffering into your schedule.



I found that whenever I encountered a trial or affliction, I not only would experience the pain of the affliction but I would then experience shock (I absolutely hate surprises), anger (I was angry that I even had to go through this) and then resistance to the affliction.



Then one day, in the midst of our darkest valley, a friend gave me the book, Let Go by Fenelon and I read his following words:



“A cross which comes from God ought to be welcomed without any concern for self. And when you accept your cross this way, even though it is painful, you will find that you can bear it in peace. But when you receive your cross unwillingly, you will find it to be doubly severe. The resistance within is harder to bear than the cross itself! But if you recognize the hand of God, and make no opposition to His Will, you will have peace in the midst of affliction. Happy indeed are they who can bear their sufferings with this simple peace and perfect submission to the will of God! Nothing so shortens and soothes suffering as this spirit of non-resistance.”
FRANCOIS FENELON



WOW! It was another AHA moment for me. Suddenly, I realized that not only did I carry the pain of our affliction – something that I did not choose nor could I change – but I also compounded and intensified my pain with my anger and resistance – something I chose to feel and I could change. I was choosing to carry double and triple pain when I only needed to carry the single pain of the affliction, which provided enough pain by itself.



When I finally accepted the affliction, trusted and submitted to the will of God – knowing that nothing happens to me that first does not pass through His Hands – my anger and resistance dissipated. This shift in perspective and position lightened the extra load I was carrying – I actually experienced peace in the midst of the affliction.



“Choices. Choices make the difference. Two people are in the same accident and severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident. It happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives and the lives of their families and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and remember what happens. It is precisely these spiritual choices that determine whether we live our lives with dignity.”
HENRI NOUWEN



We always have a Spiritual choice. Whenever we face affliction and pain, while we may initially respond with our flesh in anger and resistance, we can shed the weight of our negative emotions by turning our eyes upon Jesus – trusting Him – a Spiritual Choice. As we consider Him who endured unbelievable suffering, we, too, can endure the journey through suffering.



Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
HEBREWS 12:2-3

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