Cancer, Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Healing, Love, Peace, Trust, Words of Endurance

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
JOHN 20:29



When dealing with a season of doubt, I am always encouraged and inspired by the faith exhibited by others -especially those who believed and had not seen.



First consider the famous “Hall of Faith” listed in Chapter 11 of Hebrews. The list includes such “Greats” as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. All who exhibited great faith in the midst of much tribulation and what is even more amazing to me is that …



All these people were still living by faith when they died.
They did not receive the things promised;
they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance,
HEBREWS 11:13



Then there is Stephen, “… a man full of God’s grace and power …” (ACTS 6:8) who as he was about to be stoned he …



… looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God,
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God.”
ACTS 7:55-56



Wow! To have that kind of faith, strength and trust while facing imminent death- I truly cannot fathom!



But nothing inspires my faith more than when I have the privilege to witness the faith of the people we meet through our ministry, Endurance. Our ministry is to bring comfort, encouragement and hope to all we meet but inevitably we are the ones who end up encouraged the most. One such person who has blessed us is Mary Schiltz.



Mary lost her battle with ovarian cancer this past weekend. I have followed Mary’s journey ever since she walked through our ministry door over two years ago when she was inquiring about encouraging resources for others in her church who were battling cancer. Mary was one of the most awesome people I have ever met. She has been an inspiration to me and to so many others just by the way she lived her life and fought to beat her cancer. Her love for the Lord, her family, friends and church family was something to behold.



This past summer, when she felt she might not beat her cancer she asked me “Jan, how do I do this? I don’t know how.” I did not know how to answer her but I can honestly tell you for someone who did not know how to walk through her final days on this earth, Mary did it with grace, love, humor and great faith.



Like the “Greats” listed in the “Hall of Faith” Mary did not receive her promise for healing on this side of eternity but like the “Greats” and Stephen, Mary’s eyes were fixed on the eternal and her faith has brought her into the eternal presence of her Heavenly Father.



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,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:16-18



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Trust, Words of Endurance

How do I seek Your face when my flesh needs Your hand? What must I do, O Lord, there’s a need to understand.
RITA SPRINGER “I Remain in You”



I can really relate to the verse above from the song “I Remain in You.” Especially because I am constantly seeking God’s face, longing to feel His presence and have a strong inner drive to always understand what is going on. It was not too long ago, when I was going through a season of doubt, that I cried out to God and asked Him how was I supposed to carry on a ministry to others – encouraging them to endure and have hope – when I could not even feel His presence and I myself was desperate for His touch. I totally expected a feeling of condemnation and guilt in response to my cry but much to my surprise and delight instead I heard a soft voice speak to my heart – “My child, what you are experiencing is so pleasing to me because you are in a season of exercising and growing your faith in Me.”



And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. HEBREWS 11:6



I was elated! I was pleasing to God because I had faith in Him even when I could not feel or see Him and doubt was pounding at the door of my heart. But the key was I did not turn away from Him – I turned and cried out to Him because I knew He was there and He was listening. The Bible defines faith in Hebrews 11:1:



Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
HEBREWS 11:1



Faith is exactly what we need when we are plagued by doubt. Faith banishes doubt as it enables us to seek God, to believe in Him, to trust Him and to move on through life with Him even when we do not see Him. We sometimes overlook the fact that faith is also a living thing. Faith is not static and unchangeable. Like a muscle, faith can grow and be strengthened when we exercise it. We exercise and grow in faith when:
*We put the gift of faith into action, such as when we believe in God’s power and ability to do something rather than believing in our own power (Romans 4:19-21)
*We spend time seeking to understand God’s Word (Romans 10:17).
*We are encouraged by others who share our faith (1 Thessalonians 3:2, 10).
*We remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past (Psalm 77:10-12). *We admit our faith is weak and ask God to give us faith (Mark 9:21-24).



It is important that we exercise and strengthen our faith because the Bible assures us that life on earth will test our faith. In the same way that the strength of a muscle is stretched and tested by hard use, the strength of our faith is stretched and tested as we apply it to the trials of life. When our prayers seem to go unanswered – when our pain lingers for months or even years – when God appears to be silent despite our desperate cries for help – our faith is stretched and tested. During times of testing, we are particularly vulnerable to doubt. For some of us, our faith may be stretched to near the breaking point but even then we can find hope and comfort because the Scripture assures us that the testing of our faith refines it – purifies it – strengthens it – proving it to be a genuine faith.



So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold— though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
1 PETER 1:6-7 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Love, Trust, Words of Endurance

Remembering God’s mighty works in the pages of the Bible – and in the pages of our lives –gives us hope in our distress and courage in our trials.
THE ENCOURAGEMENT BIBLE



Have you cried out to God in the middle of the night? I have cried out so many times that I could not possibly keep count. In fact, I think that God and I have a standing appointment at about 2:30 am every night because if I am not crying out to Him for myself, I am crying out to Him on another’s behalf. I find great comfort in knowing that I am not the only one spending sleepless nights in utter despair.



Read what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 77 …


I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
PSALM 77:2



Have you asked these same questions – shared these same doubts? The Psalmist continues on in his despair…



Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
PSALM 77:7-9



During times of trials and afflictions – when God seems so distant – it is easy to slip into despair and feel that God has forgotten us. BUT when we experience great despair and doubt the faithfulness of God – when we find ourselves in the same place as the Psalmist – then we need to do as he did – RECALL AND REMEMBER what God has done.



But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
PSALM 77:11-12



In that place of despair and doubt? Then RECALL AND REMEMBER … RECALL all that God has done for His people as is recorded in the Scriptures.
*Turn to the pages of the Bible and REMEMBER all the mighty works of God RECALL all the times that God has worked in your life and the ones you love.
*REMEMBER all the times that you know – without a shadow of a doubt – that God was present and active in your life. RECALL the promises of God for you.
*And REMEMBER when God was faithful to fulfill those promises to you.
*Then REMEMBER THE HOPE that we all have, as children of God, because of the Lord’s great love, compassion, and faithfulness.



I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
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 3:19-21 (Words of the Prophet Jeremiah)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Love, Trust, Words of Endurance

When we stretch out our hand to help, we stretch out the hand of Christ’s Body.
DR. PAUL BRAND (FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE)



When we need God’s comfort and encouragement, most of us want it in a big way – we secretly long for a “burning bush” experience to erase all doubts of God’s existence. But most of the time, God conveys His love through far more approachable means – through the gentle touch of a human hand or the familiar sound of a friend’s voice. Fallible as we are, God often uses human couriers to make His presence known. During my battle with cancer, I learned to recognize God’s love and care being expressed to me in human form. In our book, When You Can’t Comeback, I reflected:



“At times in the wilderness, God seemed to be distant, if not absent altogether. But just when our mouths were parched and Jan and I felt we would die of thirst, God provided a well in the wilderness, Dr. McGowen. Just when we were completely disoriented, He provided a sign pointing the way, Dr. Townsend. Just when it looked as if every trace of Him had vanished, He provided a flower – Sealy Yates. Just when it felt as if I were going to die from sunstroke, He provided shade – Atlee Hammaker. Through them, we learned that God was not absent in the wilderness. He was there. We saw Him. In the caring eyes of a family doctor. In the sympathetic voice of a Psychologist. In the helping hands of a friend. In the comfortable presence of a fellow ballplayer. In the arms of a loving church.” So if you find yourself questioning where God is in the midst of your suffering, when you begin to doubt His love and concern – you need to look no farther than the hands of those who have fed, encouraged, and comforted you to see that He has been there all along.



“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
JOHN 13:34-35 (NLT) WORDS OF JESUS



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Trust, Words of Endurance

Whenever we look in the realm of nature, we see evidence for God’s design and exquisite care for His creatures. Whether we examine the cosmos on its largest scale or its tiniest, His handiwork is evident … God’s fingerprints are visible.
HUGH ROSS, PH.D., ASTROPHYSICIST



When our faith is shaken to the core and when we question God’s very existence that is when we hunger for tangible evidence of our invisible God. Although the dark passages of our lives may dim our view, we literally are surrounded by a world full of visible signs of God. Even a cursory look at creation reveals evidence of God’s fingerprints in every glance. Feast your eyes on just a few of the “fingerprints” – visible reminders of what God has created by His own hand.



The Largest Fingerprints
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
PSALM 19:2



*A universe that encompasses about a trillion galaxies, each one averaging a hundred billion stars.
*Our own star, the sun, that has a mass or weight of 2 billion, billion, billion tons.
*The planet earth that is perfectly designed for our existence. If the earth varied in distance from the sun by as little as 2%, life on earth would cease.
*The moon that lights our night sky and because of its gravitational force, creates tides that cleanse our oceans and stabilizes the earth’s axis, preventing extreme and deadly climactic changes.



The Tiniest Fingerprints
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
ROMANS 139:13-14



* The human body, comprising of one hundred trillion cells most of which are too small for the human eye to see without magnification.
*DNA, the chemical instruction book of all living cells. If the instructions in just one DNA molecule in one human cell were written out, they would fill a thousand, six-hundred-page books.
*Human DNA that is so complex that if the DNA from just one human being were unwound and joined together end to end, it would stretch from the earth to the sun and back again more than four hundred times.
*Human bone marrow, hidden in the long bones of the body, that turns out a trillion new cells each day.
*Sixty thousand miles of blood vessels within the average-sized human that link every living cell. Within those vessels, blood cells travel at remarkable speeds. A round-trip journey from heart to toe and back again, including a brief stop in the lungs to refuel, normally takes a red blood cell only twenty seconds.
*The human brain, weighing in at only three pounds, is packed with ten billion nerve cells, each with up to ten thousand private lines of communication. The brain’s total number of connections rivals the numbers of stars and galaxies in the universe. In addition, the chemistry of the brain works so marvelously that five trillion chemical operations occur with the brain in any given second.



For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.
Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—
his eternal power and divine nature.
So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
ROMANS 1:20



On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Words of Endurance

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Because of the joy awaiting him,
he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.
Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
HEBREWS 12:1-2



I was raised in the Christian faith and church. But in my early 20’s, after my first season of depression, I began to doubt my faith in Jesus Christ. I can remember declaring to my mother (I am sure much to her horror) that I did not believe in God and I certainly did not believe in Jesus or His resurrection. I turned to the world and avoided God at all costs.



You can only imagine how upset I was when a year later Dave called me, before I joined him in Amarillo, Texas for the baseball season, to tell me that he had accepted Jesus as his Savior. I remember thinking –
“Oh my gosh, I am married to a Jesus freak!”



When I arrived he was already involved in a Bible study with seven other Christian couples on the team. He insisted that I join him and because of my desire to fill that void that existed within my heart since I stopped believing, I agreed to go. I had a lot of questions and I was looking for answers – I wanted to believe but I wanted proof.



I knew at the core of Christianity was the resurrection of Christ. And in my inquisitive, skeptic mind I pondered, “How can I be sure that the resurrection really did take place?”



I was drawn to read the book “The Resurrection Factor” by Josh McDowell. As a young man, Josh McDowell considered himself an agnostic. He truly believed that Christianity was worthless. However, when challenged to intellectually examine the claims of Christianity, Josh discovered compelling, overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. He trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and eventually started the Josh McDowell Ministry.



In his book, Josh presented all the evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ. As I read and researched what Josh presented – the evidence satisfied my skeptic heart. I was convinced of Christ’s resurrection – I believed and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.



I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me.
Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.
He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve.
After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time,
most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.
Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:3-8 (Words of the Apostle Paul)



If you find yourself enduring a season of doubt, I encourage you to consider once again the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Go to www.Josh.org or www.Jesus.org, which are wonderful resource websites. Review the evidence for the resurrection and remind yourself or possibly discover for the first time why you never need to doubt your faith in Jesus Christ again. Consider the resurrected Christ so that you may endure with hope and receive the salvation of your soul.



Though you have not seen him, you love him;
and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him
and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 PETER 1:8-9



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Trust, Words of Endurance

All Scripture is inspired by God
and is useful to teach us what is true
and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.
It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
2 TIMOTHY 3:16 (NLT)



Whenever I am dealing with doubt, instinctively I immediately turn to the Bible. To me, it is the one tangible evidence of God’s existence that I can touch and experience. But I have not always had this complete confidence. During one season of doubting God, I began to doubt the authenticity of the Bible. So with my inquisitive mind, I began to do some research and I learned many invaluable facts about the Bible that would sustain me during future seasons of doubt.



I learned that the Bible has had a greater impact on human history than any other book. The desire for copies of the Bible inspired the invention of the printing press. Worldwide, billions of Bibles have been sold and the Bible continues to outsell every book ever published.



Yet the Bible is more than an influential bestseller; it is God’s Word. The Bible is God’s letter to the human race. As the Scripture claims, it originated with God, not with men. (2 Peter 1:20-21)



So given the vital importance of the Bible’s claims, how do we know we can trust its authenticity? How do we know it is actually from God? Consider the following facts:



Unity
The Bible was penned on three different continents, in three different languages, over a span of approximately 1500 years. Century after century, 40 different authors from diverse backgrounds wrote their portions of this book. And even more amazing is that after careful study; the 66 separate books of the Bible are in complete harmony and unity.

Scientific and Historical Accuracy
What I absolutely love is how the Bible is far ahead of scientific research. Centuries before scientists took note of it, the water cycle was described in the books of Ecclesiastes 1:7, Isaiah 55:10 and Job 36:27-28. ISAIAH 40:22 speaks of the “circle of the earth” even though for the next 1500 years most people still believed that the earth was flat. Scientists now agree that a catastrophic, worldwide flood, such as that described in Genesis 6, actually did occur. Archeological evidence agrees with the lives and recorded deeds of Bible characters.



Relevance
The moral directives and standards for living put forth in the Bible are as relevant today as they were when they were written. Unlike other works of literature, the Bible – Genesis to Revelation – addresses hundreds of controversial topics and does so with an amazing degree of harmony.



Preservation
Although many have tried, the Bible cannot be destroyed. Jesus affirmed this truth when He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). Portions of the Bible were written first on perishable materials that were copied and recopied for hundreds and even thousands of years. Even so, the Scriptures have never diminished in style or correctness, nor have they faced extinction. When compared to other ancient writings, The Bible has more manuscript evidence to support it than any ten pieces of ancient, classic literature combined.



Fulfilled Prophecy
The Bible stands alone as the only piece of literature that accurately predicts the future. The Old Testament, for example, contains more than 300 references to the coming Messiah that were precisely fulfilled by Jesus Christ. In addition, the Bible has many other prophecies that have been fulfilled and verified through archeological evidence.



Influence
Part of the beauty of Scripture is that is alive, empowered by the Holy Spirit of God (Hebrews 4:12). While some books can change a person’s thinking, the Bible is the only one that can change a person’s nature. Thus its life-changing power is one of the greatest proofs that the Bible is true.



When doubts about God begin to erode our faith – take heart and know that we can open the pages of His mighty miraculous Book and know that its words and the God who inspired them, are absolutely trustworthy.



For the word of God is alive and powerful.
It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword,
cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.
It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
HEBREWS 4:12 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Prayer, Trust, Words of Endurance

God’s invisibility guarantees I will experience times of doubt.
PHILIP YANCEY (REACHING FOR THE INVISIBLE GOD)



Is it really necessary to see something with our eyes before we can believe it exists? Many of us would answer with a wholehearted “Yes!” Yet when we stop to think about it, much of what we do every day is in response to forces, influences, and realities that we cannot see. Consider this brief slice of life for example:
• Even as I ponder the concept of believing in what we cannot see, gravity holds me fast to the seat of my chair.
• As the sunlight streams through my office window, I fight off the urge to nap – an urge that is prompted by the unseen, yet very effective, radiant warmth of the sun.
• In an effort to stay awake, I walk into the kitchen to warm up my tea by the invisible energy of my microwave.
• As I wait, I glance out the window. For a moment the beautiful dance of the pine trees distracts me. Their dance is powered by the wind of a coming storm that is not yet visible on the horizon.
• As I consider the approaching storm, my heart becomes heavy with concern. Motivated by the invisible power of a mother’s love, I wonder when my children will return home safe and sound.



My afternoon of pondering has not answered my question, but it has led me to the undeniable conclusion that we not only are capable of believing in what we cannot see, but that we must believe. We can’t see the ultraviolet radiation of the sun but we believe in it enough to put on sunscreen. We can’t see gravity but we believe in it enough that we don’t attempt to fly without mechanical assistance. Yes, it can be difficult to believe in a God we cannot see. But if we can’t see the most powerful forces in our universe that influence our life every day, why are we surprised that we can’t see God, the powerful creator of those forces? Perhaps we can take comfort in the knowledge that God’s invisibility is evidence of His power. We want and need a powerful God. As a friend of mine says, “If God were small enough for our minds, He wouldn’t be big enough for our needs!”



Declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
ISAIAH 55:8-9



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Dealing With Doubt, Doubt, Faith, Hope, Trust, Words of Endurance

Although they were unsettling,
my doubts led me to search,
to ask questions that eventually strengthened my faith.
Pastor Frederick Buechner has called our doubts
“the ants in the pants of faith – they keep it alive and moving.”
I had a lot of ants.
JAN DRAVECKY



Debbie had been battling MS the majority of her adult life. She was worn out – not just physically and emotionally but spiritually as well.



“I seem to have lost God in all of this,” she shared. “I feel like I’m losing hope and what’s worse is that I can’t see God. I need so much to feel His presence but I can’t see Him. I even feel silly for believing in God. I wonder if God is real. What is it that I believe? What have I put my faith in?”



Her words, although they may seem shocking to some people, were no surprise to me. Many people who have endured a season of suffering echo the same doubts. Have you been there?



A number of years ago, Debbie’s words could have been my own. In the midst of a deep depression, I reached a point where I felt stupid believing in a God I couldn’t see. I wanted to see God visually because I could no longer feel him. I could so identify with the disciple Thomas, also known as “Doubting Thomas.”



“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
JOHN 20:25 (WORDS OF THE DISCIPLE THOMAS)



But the Bible tells us that we are not to live by our own sight –



For we live by faith, not by sight.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:7



No human can literally see God and live but I learned that there are definitely ways for us to “see” God.
We can “see” God in His Word.
We can “see” God through His Son, Jesus.
We can “see” God in the love of others.
We can “see” God through the beauty of His creation.
We can “see” God as we look back on the times we know He touched and worked in our life.



The next several weeks we will be exploring each one of these ways for us to “see” God. Hopefully this will open the eyes of our hearts to “see” a glimpse of our invisible God. I pray that you discover, as I did, that He’s not so invisible after all.



Be merciful to those who doubt …
JUDE 22



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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