Cancer, Hope, Words of Endurance

Through The Trials

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.


How did Noah and his family fare as they watched for the sign that their trial was over? What lessons did they review as they stumbled – giving thanks – out of the ark that had confined them for so long?

Thank God for the trials! How would we grow without the shifting and shaping of God’s hand in our lives? How would we learn? How would we ever experience the power of God’s presence if we didn’t get into the valleys? I know I learned more in the valleys than I ever did on the mountaintops.

Although I hope for better health, what I need to rest in is the promise of God that will sustain me in all circumstances, no matter what. I think most of us (including me) spend too much time seeking a way out of a situation rather than pleading with God for a way through it.

I’ve learned to be quite content whatever my circumstances. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.




Cancer, Hope, Words of Endurance


The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down.


The waters of the great flood covered the earth for 150 days. It was 40 days after that before Noah opened a window on the ark. How dark, smelly and confining it must have been in the ark for all those days. How difficult (and frightening) that wait must have been.

Waiting is one of the most difficult things we will ever be asked to do. Waiting can prompt us to fret, to stew, to become anxious, even to rebel. Waiting patiently does not come easily to any of us – especially when we are suffering. Yet without developing this trait in our lives, we can never hope to enjoy God’s greatest blessings – nor will we ever become a great blessing to someone in need who finds themselves in God’s waiting room.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.




Cancer, Glimpses of Heaven, Grief, Hope, Words of Endurance

God my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

The familiarity of this oft-quoted Psalm can mask the wondrous truth that God is our loving, faithful Shepherd. Through our personal experience in dealing with cancer and through the experiences of hundreds of others who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we can testify that the Lord is truly our Shepherd.

He will shepherd us through the darkest hours of life, and His greatest desire is to lead each one of us safely to His eternal home in heaven.

But something deep within us tells us that death is not natural. We fight against it as if it is a foreign enemy and in a sense it is. God has placed eternity into the heart of every person so we long for life to go on. Yet we are so attached to life on earth that we resist heaven, the true home Jesus has prepared for us.

Heaven sometimes seems very far away, sometimes not even quite real. But heaven is real. We can count on it. And when we are in the midst of suffering, the hope of heaven can greatly comfort us.

Our desire is to give you a glimpse of heaven, to lift your focus heavenward, to assure you that those who are God’s children will indeed live in His House forever. So come, discover the Shepherd and the awesome pastures He has prepared for you.



Cancer, Words of Endurance

I have learned to go to God first
when a relationship hits a rough spot.
Every time I try to handle it on my own,
I muck it up.

The darkness of suffering creates an environment in which misunderstanding and miscommunication can flourish. When we are forced to navigate through that darkness we all too often bump up against the rough edges, impurities, flaws and weaknesses that mar even our most precious relationships. Our greatest treasures at times may appear to be nothing more than worthless stones.

In such an environment, we may need to refine our relationship skills if we want our relationships to endure and become the the priceless treasures God intended them to be. Just as we need to cut and polish precious stones to reveal and enhance their beauty, we need to chisel away rough edges, cut out impurities and polish our relationships.

Whether we need a crash course in relationship building and maintenance or we simply need to refine our relationship skills, the first most basic truth about relationships is that we can not do it alone – we need God’s help. No matter what relationship challenges we face, we need to ask for God’s help before we do anything else. He is our starting point for polishing the treasure of healthy relationships.

If you don’t know what you are doing,
pray to the Father.
He loves to help.
You’ll get his help and
won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.

God is the author of relationships and the Trinity is the perfect example of relationship unity. God wants our relationships and love for one another to emulate His love. In fact, He commands us to get along with others.

Do all that you can
to live in peace with everyone.
ROMANS 12:18 (NLT)

God knows firsthand how challenging that can be. Jesus lived with a large family in cramped quarters. He was a son, a brother, an employee, a co-worker, a neighbor and a friend. So when we talk with God about our relationship problems He completely understands. But more than that He can help us deal with relationship challenges.

Now that we know what we have –
Jesus, this great High Priest
with ready access to God –
let’s not let it slip through our fingers.
We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He’s been through weakness and testing,
experienced it all – all but sin.
So let’s walk right up to him and
get what He is so ready to give.
Take the mercy, accept the help.

Just as it takes knowledge and wisdom to cut a gemstone, it takes knowledge and wisdom to bring out the beauty of our relationships. We don’t have that on our own but God does. God alone knows the hearts and motives of all men so He knows all about the flaws behind the relationship challenges we experience.

“For the LORD sees every heart and
knows every plan and thought.”

As the creator of relationships, He can guide us through problems we can’t begin to solve. As the source of life and love, God has the power to fix what is broken – to correct what is wrong. He can empower us to love and forgive others even if it is the last thing we think we can do.

On the journey with you,
Dave and Jan Dravecky


Cancer, Grace, Hope, Loss, Prayer, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do,
everywhere you go;
He’s the one who will keep you on track.

One cloudy gray day several months after my amputation, I was driving the car and my emotional state pretty much matched the weather. I was struggling to make sense out of all that had happened to me during the previous few years and I wasn’t coming up with any answers. I had achieved my dream of becoming a Major League Pitcher but a diagnosis of cancer in my pitching arm rocked my world. First there was the surgery that promised to end my career, then my amazing comeback – then just a few days later my arm broke mid pitch – then the reoccurrence of the cancer, more surgeries, radiation, infection and finally – no arm.

I knew I could trust God but I had begun taking a hard look at my life. I wondered where my life might be headed. No arm, no career – just where did God want me to go?

Through the gloom of that day a song came over the car radio and caught my ear:

“First I want to thank You Lord
for being who You are.
For coming to the rescue of a man who’s drifted far.
For calling me to be Your son
and calling me to serve,
Lord the way You’ve blessed my life
is more than I deserve.”

Somehow that song touched my heart right where I was at that point in time. As it continued I broke down and cried.

“Let me be the evidence of what Your Grace can do,
to generations struggling to find themselves in You.
May they come to know the love of God.
May their eyes be made to see.
Give me the opportunity to
share the truth that sets them free!”
That was it! That song spoke into my life and directed it to where it needed to go. It perfectly expressed the vision in my heart – a vision I had not yet been able to see.

I never expected to cry from a song but I prayerfully and tearfully joined in the chorus:

“This is my prayer,
lifted to you,
Knowing you care
even more than I do.
This is my prayer lifted in Your name.
Your will be done
I humbly pray.”

I haven’t heard that song for years but the memory of it takes me back to that grey rainy day when God broke through my fog and gloom and reminded me of my heart’s deepest desire – for my life to reflect Jesus where ever He will lead me. What a treasure!

When you hurt,
I mean really hurt,
Where are the blessings?
What good can actually come of it?
Suffering can not only draw you closer to God,
But He can use it to reveal blessings
that will give you hope to hang onto.

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

(The song “Prayer” was sung by Petra and written by Bob Hartman, John Elefante)


Cancer, Doubt, Fear, Grace, Guilt, Words of Endurance

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses,
for he faced all of the same testings we do,
yet he did not sin.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive his mercy,
and we will find grace
HEBREWS 4:15-16 (NLT)

I have always had high expectations of myself – never wanting to fail – always wanting to be strong – never weak – earning my success – in the game of baseball and in my everyday life.

All that changed when cancer entered my life. Oh I was strong and performed well at the beginning of my journey of suffering. But as the journey took me into the wilderness and the days became long and endless, I experienced a weakness of my being that I had never felt before.

I had a fear of death – I doubted – then shame for my lack of faith. I experienced frustration over my weakness and my failure to overcome. This resulted in anger – rage filled fits – then extreme guilt over my sin. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, my inclination was to run from God and hide. BUT … running and hiding from God was not the answer. In order to endure I needed to run to Him and receive His grace even though I felt I had not earned it and therefore I did not deserve it.

But God loves who we really are – whether we like it or not.
God calls us, as He did Adam, to come out of hiding.
“Come to me now,” Jesus says.
“Acknowledge and accept who I want to be for you:
a Savior of boundless compassion,
infinite patience, unbearable forgiveness,
and love that keeps no score of wrongs.
Quit projecting onto me your own feelings about yourself.
At this moment your life is a bruised reed and I will not crush it,
a smoldering wick and I will not quench it.
You are in a safe place.

God’s grace is an incredible source of fuel for enduring the journey. It encourages us to keep going even when we fall because we know He understands and knows our weaknesses yet He still loves us. This was a huge source of fuel for me to continue taking steps forward on my journey with Him knowing that …

“If we have only the will to walk, then God is pleased with my stumbles.” CS LEWIS

Sometimes we are so sick and tired of stumbling that we don’t want to walk anymore. What a blessing it is to know that all we need to have is the will to walk with Him, and God is pleased with us – even when we stumble. That’s an incredible expression of grace. That is a tremendous motivation to keep stepping forward and endure the journey!

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Anger, Cancer, Depression, Fear, Words of Endurance

“… And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
JOHN 8:32 (NLT)

Janette and Bill needed a fresh start so the chance to move out of state for a new job opportunity looked like a divine gift. But life after the move was complicated. Bill’s new job didn’t turn out to be what he was promised. Janette was still feeling the pain of wounding words from her previous employer, which made it difficult to handle the stress of her new job. Their children were feeling lonely and insecure as they adjusted to new schools and tried to find new friends. Then just when Janette didn’t think she could handle one more challenge – Bill was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer.

So far from the only home and support system they had ever known, they faced cancer surgery, a colostomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, more surgery and a host of complications and unexpected bills. Janette shifted into ‘survival mode’ and pushed herself to get through each day but the prolonged stress took its toll. She began to experience anxiety attacks – her heart would beat so fast she thought she would die. She was so exhausted she could barely get out of bed in the morning. Fatigue, crying spells, hopelessness, anger, fear and isolation became part of her daily life.

What made things worse was that Janette was dreadfully afraid that she and Bill had done something to cause the difficulties they faced. She had been taught that suffering was almost always caused by personal wrongdoing or a lack of faith. So she believed that she and her husband were somehow responsible for what was happening to their family. Yet she had no idea where they had gone wrong and she couldn’t figure out what horrible sin deserved so much suffering.

No wonder Janette’s perspective on life was shattering. Her emotional health, her views of God and her perspective on suffering were all crumbling under the stress of circumstances and the burden of a perspective that wasn’t true. Although she sensed that she wasn’t seeing things clearly, she was afraid to ask for help. What if her newly made friends at church thought the whole ordeal was due to her personal sin or spiritual weakness too? Where would she find help then?

Fortunately, Janette’s new friends refused to stand by and do nothing. They knew she was hurting and encouraged her to participate in a faith based support group at church. There she began to more closely examine what the Bible taught about suffering.

Then a widowed friend shared about how she struggled with depression following her husband’s death. Her honesty about a personal struggle surprised Janette. Having come from a setting where exposing weakness would result in harsh judgment, her friend’s vulnerability opened Janette’s eyes to the possibility of looking at what was really happening in her own life.

Prompted by another friend, Janette began to list the hardships and losses she had recently endured instead of trying to ignore them. As she did, she realized why she felt overwhelmed, sad and full of anxiety. Who wouldn’t be? The pain she felt wasn’t because of weakness. It was understandable in light of the traumatic losses she had experienced.

Once she faced the truth of those losses, Janette began to grieve. It wasn’t an easy or pleasant process. It was especially heartbreaking for her to realize she no longer thought of God as being wise, loving and caring. But as painful as it was to confront those losses and to uncover the perspective that made them nearly unbearable, Janette is glad she did.

Today as a result of her Bible study and the support of caring friends she has a new perspective. She knows that while some suffering may come as a consequence of our actions of our actions, suffering also comes as part of life. Even more important, she knows that from God’s perspective suffering is an opportunity to draw close to him and she has rediscovered a closer, more personal relationship with her wise and loving God.

As Janette learned we rarely give our perspectives a second thought when life is going well. But when our perspectives shatter and fail us, it is essential to take a close look at what the truth really is so that we can make adjustments in our thinking. Sometimes when our perspective shatters we can finally see the truth clearly and that truth will set us free!

I always try to remind people that as painful as it may be,
truth is always your friend.
No matter how difficult it is to swallow, truth is reality
And that is where ultimate safety, growth and God are.
We need to know the truth.
Sometimes the truth leads us to what is hurting us …
Sometimes it leads us to what we need to change.
At other times it leads us to
what we need to do next in a relationship.
At still other times it leads us to
what our weaknesses or limitations are,
such as what we are not ready to deal with.
But whatever the truth is, it is our friend.

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky


Cancer, Perspectives, Prayer, Words of Endurance

Early one morning, Gehazi, servant of the prophet Elisha, decided to take a walk around the city of Dothan. He was greatly dismayed to discover that during the night a huge army of troops and chariots had encircled the city. Terrified, he cried out to Elisha …

“Oh, sir, what will we do now?
2 KINGS 6:15 (NLT)

The prophet calmly told him not to fear. He assured him that …

“For there are more on our side than on theirs!”
2 KINGS 6:16 (NLT)

How confusing those words must have seemed! After all, anyone could see there was no escaping the army that surrounded them. But Elisha saw something Gehazi could not; Elisha saw the situation from God’s perspective, so he was not deceived by appearances.

Then Elisha prayed …

“O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!”
2 KINGS 6:17 (NLT)

And suddenly Gehazi saw something he never imagined was there: the enemy was itself surrounded by the Lord’s army of horses and chariots of fire! Like Gehazi, we need to remember that what we see isn’t necessarily the whole truth. We need to see the truth from God’s perspective.

PASTOR RON MEHL battled cancer for 22 years.
During that time he was intimately aware
of our need for God’s perspective
as we endure times of suffering.

Wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective.

We pray for all of us that when we face adversity and trials that seem way too big for us to ever overcome and we cry out in despair as Gehazi did, “Oh Lord what will we do now?” that we will pray as Elisha did, “O Lord open our eyes and let us see!” Because remember …

“If there’s anything we need in a stormy trial,
it’s perspective …
when we catch the updrafts of God’s Spirit
and are lifted to new heights,
trials look extraordinarily different.”

On the Journey with You,
Dave & Jan Dravecky


Cancer, Grief, Hope, Laughter, Words of Endurance

A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

The topic of conversation was laughter, but you never would have guessed it from our friend Don’s expression. A successful businessman with more to do than hours in which to do it, he confessed – “I don’t know how to see the lighter side of life. I take life too seriously. I know I need to ‘lighten up’ but I literally don’t know how.”

Don isn’t alone. Carole feels the same way. Her husband’s death following a decade-long battle against cancer has left her with an overwhelming new job description – widow, single parent, and recovering but exhausted caregiver. “Some mornings,” she says, “it’s all I can do to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.” Learning to lighten up simply isn’t on her to-do list. It’s all she can do to survive.

Been there?

Well so has Beth, whose husband Chad suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Chad was diagnosed when she was pregnant with their second child. For the next eighteen years daily life in their home involved life-support equipment, feeding tubes and nurses.

Despite the challenges and uncertainty, their home was anything but gloomy. Early on in Chad’s battle, Beth made a conscious decision to look for the humor in every situation. She knew that if she didn’t the sorrow would overtake her and her family. As a result their home was full of life and laughter – lots of it!

For Beth humor was an important coping mechanism. She agrees wholeheartedly with the person who said, “Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper – it doesn’t permanently solve any problems but it makes things more acceptable for a while.”

Beth has learned that she is not in control of the circumstances of life. She can control only how she responds to them. Her response is of the utmost importance because her response sets the emotional tone for her entire family. She can afford to lay her problems down – to loosen her grip – so they don’t consume her every thought. She can relax because she knows who controls the circumstances and who holds her in the protection of His hand.

But what encouragement is there for individuals such as Don and Carole who finds themselves in situations in which they simply are not able to see the lighter side and to make matters worse they may even feel guilty for not being able to lighten up? Oh but take heart because God gives us permission – even encouragement – to express the full range of our emotions. The Scripture says there is …

A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,

And in their book, Dear God, It’s Cancer, authors William Fintel, M.D. and Gerald McDermott, Ph.D. emphasize that …

“… both tears and laughter are gifts of God –
and you need them both
to make it through the trials of cancer.”

So no matter how many tears we shed – no matter how deep and dark the pit we found ourselves in – we have discovered on our own journey that there is always a time to laugh and it sure makes the journey easier to endure. As the comedian Bob Hope – who had the gift to make others laugh – said …

“I have seen what a laugh can do.
It can transform almost unbearable tears
into something bearable –
even hopeful.”

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky


Anger, Cancer, Depression, Relationships, Relationships in Trouble, Words of Endurance

He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has to be forgiven.

Five years ago, Jennifer Smith descended into the valley of adversity. Like many others who travel the lowlands of pain and sorrow, she began her journey by walking upright – strong and full of faith. But during the years that followed, a series of devastating events ad a crushing relationship problem undermined her strength and her once rock-solid faith, reducing her walk to a crawl.

Her journey through the valley began when William, the youngest of her three sons, was diagnosed with cancer. William endured three months of daily radiation and hypothermia treatments, but the cancer in his arm continued to grow. When he was 19, William’s left arm had to be amputated in order to save his life.

At first, as is true for many amputees, William handled the changes in his life well. But the prolonged stares, the unanswered questions, and the shattered dreams proved to be more than this athletic, sensitive young adult could manage. Like many other amputees, William slid into a deep depression. The next few years brought four failed suicide attempts, drug addiction, and admission into a treatment facility that required his entire family to move halfway across the country so that they could be near him.

In their new surroundings, they were very much alone. But Jennifer’s strong faith and deep bonds with her husband and other two sons seemed to meet her relationship needs. After all, she was battling for her son’s life. Who but family could possibly understand?

Three years after her youngest son lost his arm to cancer, her oldest son, Cody, was in an automobile accident. When they got to the hospital, Cody lay in a coma, hooked up to life support. The doctors held out little hope for his recovery, but the family refused to give up.

For the next year, despite William’s suicide attempts and near fatal overdoses, Jennifer, her husband, and their middle son, Andrew, fought tenaciously for Cody. Although he regained consciousness, severe head trauma left him with the functional and intellectual capabilities of a toddler. Still, the family prayed, accompanied him to grueling physical therapy, and – despite professional recommendations that Cody be institutionalized – brought him home.

Even though her oldest son didn’t know her or recognize her as his mother and her youngest son was racing head-long down a self-destructive path, Jennifer still had the support and love of her husband and middle son. Or so it seemed. That’s why the call caught her by surprise. It was one of Andrew’s best friends from back home. He had called to confirm what day Andrew would arrive.

Arrive? Jennifer didn’t even know he was leaving! She knew that he was having trouble watching Cody struggle. She and her husband had even gone apartment hunting with him, hoping to help him find a place of his own so he could have some much-needed space yet remain close to the family. But why would he move halfway across the country? Why didn’t he tell her?

Shocked, hurt, and feeling deeply betrayed, Jennifer confronted her son, asking how he could possibly walk out on his family when they needed him so much. His only response didn’t ease her pain: “I just can’t take it anymore.” Jennifer “couldn’t take” her son’s response. Days later, locked in her bedroom in self-imposed exile, she listened as her son loaded his belonging into his car and left. She didn’t say goodbye. She didn’t even speak to him for a year.

Despite talking with her priest and continually asking God to help her forgive her son, Jennifer couldn’t bring herself to forgive him. “I understood why he had to leave” Jennifer explains, “but the way he did it hurt so much.” She tried to forgive him because she knew she had to, but she didn’t think she could ever truly forgive him – and many times she wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Jennifer didn’t know how to break the cycle, how to break free from the hurt, so she held onto her anger. Her bitterness grew. In time, she discovered that her relationship with Andrew wasn’t the only troubled relationship in her life. Although she never lost her faith in God, Jennifer concedes that she lost the ability to sense His love and presence. “I still believed in God and went to church, but I knew something was missing. I didn’t feel the presence of God during that time. I had no joy or happiness.”

One year after he left, Andrew called home during the day – something he never did because he knew his mom wouldn’t talk to him. But this call was different. He was crying. He was scared. He had developed several painful lumps on his back, lumps that reminded him of William’s cancer. He needed his family.

And Jennifer needed to look at their relationship from a fresh perspective. She had nearly lost two sons to tragedy. As she found herself facing the possibility of losing a third son, her anger and bitterness seemed out of place and inappropriate. She dropped to her knees as soon as she hung up the phone and prayed for her son like she hadn’t in years.

She found herself praying for forgiveness, too. “I had to ask God to forgive me for walking in bitterness for a year. I had lost a year with my son, a year that I can never get back.” As one who had felt the sting of betrayal and disappointment firsthand, she learned an important truth about forgiveness. “Life is so short, you have to forgive. How could you ever live with the guilt if the person you haven’t forgiven were to die?”

Andrew’s lumps turned out to be bone fragments from a previous injury. But like Jennifer’s unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger, they had to completely surface before they could be dealt with and removed. Today, Jennifer would say their relationship is fully restored, although she still wrestles with occasional angry thoughts. But she realizes that hurt was at the root of her anger toward her son. The trust between them was damaged, and Jennifer knows that restoring trust takes time. She also knows that a lack of forgiveness can rob us of the fellowship, joy, and peace that comes from the most important relationship of all – our relationship with God.

The Painful Truth

Like many other who have traveled the rocky road of pain and suffering, Jennifer discovered some painful truths about human relationships:

  • Count on it – relationship problems that were manageable before affliction become markedly worse during affliction.
  • The more we love someone, the more it hurts when the relationship encounters difficulty.
  • Relationship problems can’t always just be prayed away. They may also require time, appropriate action, or even outside intervention.
  • Emotional pain can blind us from seeing the conflict clearly and taking the steps needed to bring reconciliation.
  • Unresolved relationship problems often lead to depression.
  • When we have relationship problems with family and friends, our relationship with God is always affected, and usually, the effect is negative.
  • A lack of forgiveness can cause us to lose our way spiritually.