Endurance for the Journey, Faith, Featured

“God uses uncertainty in our lives to remodel our hearts.
Don’t waste your time looking for a way out of the difficulty you’re in;
Look for Him in the midst of it.”
Bob Goff



We can certainly all agree that there is a lot of uncertainty in life, especially after what we all have experienced the past two years – the Covid Pandemic, riots, world unrest, just to mention a few, added upon our personal trials and losses. Many of us have wondered, how do we cope with all this uncertainty. Well, please do not lose heart.


During my first bout with severe depression and much uncertainty about life, I could not feel or sense God, but it did not stop me from looking for Him and I found Him in the tangible Word of God. I scoured the Scripture to find some reason for the Hope I so desperately longed for. One of the first Scriptures the Holy Spirit led me to was 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:


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 on not what is seen,
but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary but
what is unseen is eternal.

As I turned my eyes from my uncertainties, trials, and sorrows to the Scripture, and ultimately Jesus, I began developing an eternal perspective of life which freed me to experience True Joy in the midst of my pain. I learned that there was an eternal purpose in my pain and I could trust the Holy Spirit to guide me through to the other side.


These past two years, even though they have not been easy, I have experienced His Peace, through it all, trusting Him with every step we took, with every bad news report that we heard. We did not lose heart because we knew Who to fix our eyes on – we knew Who we could trust because we knew Who has been faithful to us on our earthly journey – Jesus. Therefore, we did not lose heart.


Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
and suffering for drink,
He will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with our own eyes.
Your own ears will hear Him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
ISAIAH 30:19-21 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Faith, Featured

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.
HEBREWS 12:2 (NIV)



I am helped to endure my trails when I consider how Jesus endured His own. This verse tells us that great joy gripped the soul of the Master when He looked ahead to what His sufferings would accomplish. He endured for the joy of completing the Father’s will for Him. He endured for the joy He would feel at His resurrection and exaltation. And He endured for the joy of soon being able to present cleansed believers to the Father in Glory.



Jesus, did not “enjoy” the cross, but He was able to endure it for the joy set before Him. By considering Jesus, we, too, can take heart and endure.



We can rejoice, too,
when we run into problems and trials,
for we know that they help us develop endurance.
And endurance develops strength of character,
and character strengthens
our confident hope of salvation.
ROMANS 5:3-4 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Faith, Featured

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us
new birth into a living hope through
the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance
that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.
1 PETER 1:3-4 (NIV)



Sometimes we’re tempted to think that life’s hardships have somehow managed to wipe eternity off the map. We imagine that our suffering demonstrates there is no such place as heaven. When thoughts like that begin to bedevil us, we need a dose of minor-league thinking: Every minor leaguer knows that no matter how uncomfortable and long the trip to the next ball field might be … the trip won’t last forever and the diamond will be waiting for him at the end.


The Bible promises us that no matter how difficult our journey may become the length of our journey never alters the reality of our destination. That is what the Apostle Peter meant when he declared that all those who have been given “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” are also guaranteed “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” And why is that inheritance secure? Because it is “kept in heaven for you.”



So be truly glad.
There is wonderful joy ahead,
even though you must 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 gold.
1 PETER 1:6-7 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Faith, Featured

For we know that if the earthly tent
we live in is destroyed,
we have a building from God,
an eternal house in heaven,
not built by human hands.
Meanwhile we groan,
longing to be clothed instead
with our heavenly dwelling,
2 CORINTHIANS 5:1-2 (NIV)



Our focus must be on the “building” to come, not the “tent” we have now (2 Corinthians 5:1). This is the one message that helped me to get through my ordeal with cancer. In the midst of tremendous fear and doubt and worry, I laid hold of God’s promise of a “heavenly dwelling” (v. 2). I took my disintegrating tent and I camped on the deep certainty God had given me for a new home.


I knew the Spirit lived within me, and I knew the Bible likens the Spirit to “a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:22). As hard as it was to face the very real possibility of my imminent death, this was a great comfort to me.


Now it is God who makes both us
and you stand firm in Christ.
He anointed us, set
His seal of ownership on us,
and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:21-22 (NIV)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Faith, Featured

Once again David inquired of the Lord,
and the Lord answered him
1 SAMUEL 23:4 (NIV)



Is that how my life story will read? Once again, Jan inquired of the Lord. Once again, Jan refused to make a decision until she prayed about it. Once again, Jan chose not to act impulsively but waited for God to give her direction. Once again, Jan did not take matters into her own hands but fully released them to the Lord.


Like a boomerang, David always returned to the Lord. In season and out. While running for his life and running the nation. When he messed up and when he was victorious. And the Lord welcomed him every time.


So my prayer is: Lord, please cause my own heart to continually be drawn back to you, regardless of where it has been or what it has done. Don’t let pride or fear or indifference gain a foothold in me. May my dependence on you cause me to live a life that brings you great honor and glory. And if ever there is a narrative of my days written somewhere in heaven, I pray that it will include the words, “Once again …”



He will be gracious if you ask for help.
He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.
Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
and suffering for drink,
He will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
Your own ears will hear Him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go.”
whether to the right or to the left.
ISAIAH 30:19-21 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Faith

In all the travels of the Israelites,
whenever, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle,
they would set out;
but if the cloud did not lift,
they did not set out –
until the day it lifted.
EXODUS 40:36-37 (NIV)



Where’s my cloud?


Wouldn’t it be easier to follow God if we had something like that big cloud to lead us? The Good news is that we do! The God who inhabited that cloud now inhabits me! Because Jesus is my Savior, God’s Spirit lives within me.


Wherever God dwells and reigns, there is peace, joy, wisdom – the overflow of His character. When God’s peace evaporates and His joy disappears, I know it’s time to “check my position” with Him. Have I been going off on my own? Have I been calling my own shots? Have I been depending on my own strength, my own abilities? No wonder I feel so empty!


That’s about the time I need to push for an immediate change in leadership. I need to wait on Him, just like the Israelites waited for that cloud. I need to lay down my plans and hand over the reins of control so he can lead once again … and I can follow.



Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
MATTHEW 6:34 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Faith, Grace, Love, Relationships, The Treasure of Relationships, Words of Endurance

Next to God Himself, we need each other most.
A.W. Tozer

The Treasure of Deepened Relationships

Michelle Dacus considers the time spent with her mom during her long and difficult recovery from life-threatening surgery* to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “The treasure of spending that enormous amount of time with my mom impacted our relationship for the rest of our lives. Her selflessness was amazing. I never would have known the depth of her love without this experience. One of the greatest treasures God showed me in the darkness was to spend quality time with the people you love, to invest in those relationships and not to take them for granted.”



Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7



The Treasure of Grace

Karen knew about grace, but she didn’t realize what a powerful treasure it was until her best friend’s family was shattered by divorce. “Every time a family member would call, all I could do was pray under my breath for grace. I didn’t have answers, and they didn’t want them. I couldn’t share wisdom because I didn’t have any. Each family member’s faith was shaken. What they needed – the only thing I could give them – was grace. Until I walked through this devastation, I had no idea how powerful grace is or how quickly God could send grace to you and through you to nurse the wounds of the brokenhearted.”



And God is able to make all grace abound to you.
2 Corinthians 9:8



The Treasure of Learning How to Love

For more than half of their 32 years of marriage, Rick Rood cared for Polly as she battled a degenerative illness. Rick came to realize “that the burden we had been handed was also, in some mysterious way I could not yet understand, a ‘gift’ from the Lord…Five years into Polly’s illness it dawned on me what God was doing in my life…When Polly became ill, God enlisted me in a life-shaping process. Part of this process involved His gently and patiently chipping away at qualities that He knew needed to diminish in my life. The other part was gradually instilling in my heart the qualities He wanted me to acquire…the most important was love. I loved Polly before, but God used this illness to transform my love for her.”



Love never fails…and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:8,13



The Treasure of Seeing Others Grow in their Faith


“I wouldn’t give up one thing I have been through,” Joanie Thompson, who suffers from a chronic lung disease, explains, “if it meant my children would not know what they know today and would not have experienced what they have experienced…I watched them plead with the Lord to heal me…I’ve seen them allow the Spirit of God to empower them…and that probably is the greatest thing that compels me to keep going.”

I will gladly spend myself and all I have for your spiritual good.
2 Corinthians 12:15



The Treasure of Compassion


Before she became a quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada, president of a respected and influential ministry to the disabled, confesses that she “could have cared less about people in wheelchairs. But when God awakened me from my spiritual slumber with an ice-cold splash of suffering in the face, my thinking changed real fast. God used my pain and my heartache to cause me…to care about other who are hurting.”

He (God) comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4



The Treasure of a Testimony


A pastor once told his congregation, “Your best argument for your faith is your testimony: how God met you, changed you and continues to impact you daily.” Michelle Dacus would agree wholeheartedly. “My greatest tool and treasure for reaching the lost is my testimony. For the rest of my life, I’ll be using it. It’s a treasure I will pull out every day…a gift God gives me to share.”



Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.
Psalm 66:16

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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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Faith, Pain, Peace

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.



Always surrender to God, not to the circumstances.
Ron Mehl



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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Cancer, Faith, The Winds of Change, Words of Endurance

I really struggle with surrendering my plans to God. Surrender feels like weakness to me. That’s why I’ve memorized this quote by Henrietta Mears:
“The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”
BEVERLY JONES



After Dave’s comeback game, I figured he would continue pitching and go on to complete a satisfying Major League baseball career. I was excited about the opportunities baseball could give him to share what God had done in his life through his battle with cancer. And as far as our personal life was concerned, I thought the worst was over. I thought life would finally return to “normal,” that there would be no more major changes or surprises on the horizon.



I was wrong on both counts. My desires for Dave’s baseball career and my plans for our life as a couple and as a family weren’t selfish. In fact, they were completely normal. But they were my plans. They obviously weren’t in God’s plan.



Four days after Dave’s comeback game, the winds of change upgraded to hurricane status and stayed there long enough to sweep away any thought of rebuilding life exactly as it had been before. First, Dave’s arm broke. Then it broke again. Then the cancer returned. Then Dave needed more surgery, additional treatment, more setbacks, and finally the amputation. During that process, I not only gave up on my plans, I was beginning to seriously question God’s plans.



I eventually learned (the hard way) that drastic changes in our lives require us to identify and grieve our losses in order to maintain our emotional and spiritual health. We have to acknowledge the things that are precious to us that we have lost in the storm. Those losses may be things like our dreams for the future, our career aspirations, our innocence, and in our case, even a pitching arm.



Like other people who have come face to face with the storms of change, I had to face the reality that God might have other plans—and that I might not like them. If it comes down to a tug-of-war with God over who gets their way, God is going to win. Scripture assures me that He will: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). We have but two choices: fight God and resist His plan or surrender to God and submit to His plan. Although making that choice is easier said than done, I can truthfully say that every divine detour God gave us ended up being the very best thing that could have happened.



When Jesus faced the ultimate storm, His death on the cross, He looked God straight in the eye and spoke these all-too-human words, “My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39). This simple plea is what makes Him the perfect Savior. He understands our human nature, our resistance to change, our struggle to surrender our desires and plans to Him. In contemporary terminology, He’s “been there, done that.” Now He stands prepared to empower, encourage, and embrace us as we face the storms of life, the inevitable changes that are a part of our journey here on earth.



. . . Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
HEBREWS 4:14-16

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