Endurance for the Journey, Faith, Featured

For 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.
ROMANS 8:28 (NLT)



God tells us that trials in which evil and suffering come upon us “have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7)


God refines us in our suffering and graciously explains why: “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this” (Isaiah 48:10). For emphasis, God repeats the reason.

In my novel Safely Home, set in China, Li Quan voices what some Chinese Christians actually say: True gold does not fear the fire.

Job says of God, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold’ (Job 23:10). Fire strengthens those it refines. They do not seek the fire, but neither do they shrink from it.


In the journal she kept during her cancer years, Nanci recorded these verses and quotes:

And I will put this third into the fire, and test them
as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.
I will say ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘the LORD is my God.”
ZECHARIAH 13:9

“The fire only refines; it does not destroy. We are to be brought through the fire, not left in it. The Lord values His people as silver, and therefore He is at pains to purge away their dross. If we are wise, we will welcome the refining process rather than decline it. Our prayer will be that our alloy may be taken from us rather than that we should be withdrawn from the crucible. Oh Lord, you test us indeed…still this is your way, and your way is best.” Charles Spurgeon

“If God intended for all the days of your life to be easy, they would be. No, in grace, He intends for your days to be His tools of refinement.” Paul David Tripp


Then Nanci wrote:
I love you, Lord. I trust you. I thank you for your tender mercies in all that you do. Wrap my heart in your sovereign grace and love. Thank you, Lord, for valuing our faith in you so much that you test and strengthen it through adversity.



Written with permission by Randy Alcorn and Eternal Perspective Ministries. http://www.epm.org/

Excerpts taken from Randy Alcorn’s Blog. Please learn about Randy’s new booklet to be released this summer, Grieving with Hope. https://store.epm.org/future-products/



On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Grief

It was good for me that I was afflicted,
That I might learn your statutes.
PSALM 119.71 (NKJV)

By God’s grace, Nanci fixed her attention on His attributes. Only eight months into her cancer journey, she wrote,

“I honestly would not trade this cancer experience to go back where I was. These last months have been used by God to propel me into a deeper understanding and experience of His sovereignty, wisdom, steadfast love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, immanency, trustworthiness, and omnipotence.”

Psalm 119.71 says, “It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” If affliction was good for the psalmist, then withholding that affliction would have meant withholding good. The universe is first and foremost about the purposes, plans, and glory of God. God sees eternal purposes and plans and knows ultimate good in ways we cannot.

Our sovereign God weaves millions of details into our lives. He may have one big reason, or a thousand little ones, for bringing a certain person or success or failure or disease or accident into our lives. His reasons often fall outside our present lines of sight. If God uses cancer or a car accident to conform us to Himself, then regardless of the human, demonic, or natural forces involved, He will be glorified.

“Oh great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in deed” (Jeremiah 32:18-19). God is at work behind the scenes, and one day we will understand our sufferings hidden purposes.



Written with permission by Randy Alcorn
and Eternal Perspective Ministries.
http://www.epm.org/

Excerpts taken from Randy Alcorn’s Blog.
Please learn about Randy’s new booklet to
be released this summer, Grieving with Hope.
https://store.epm.org/future-products/


On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

0

Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Grief

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.
ROMANS 8:28 (NLT)

Nanci and I experienced many glimpses of God’s sovereign purposes for years before her cancer diagnosis. We saw that my becoming an insulin-dependent diabetic 35 years ago was God’s plan to increase my dependence on Him. And we saw 30 years ago, that a lawsuit by an abortion clinic for $8.2 million was His way of moving me from pastoring a church we love into a ministry that reaches further than we ever imagined.

God’s hands were not tied by our difficult situations. He took bad situations and used them for His glory and our highest good. His sovereign grace far outstripped our hardships.

If this were not true, anyone facing a terminal illness would have to believe they experienced bad luck, and that God is either not as powerful or not as loving as He claims to be. Parents who have lost a child would have to believe the death was a meaningless accident, and that it wouldn’t have happened if only the child hadn’t been at that place at that time, or if that man hadn’t been driving drunk, or if a thousand other circumstances had been different.

If onlys and what ifs can rule our lives and drive us crazy. Instead, embracing God’s higher purposes – even when invisible to us in painful and tragic events – affirms God’s greatness. This is not fatalism. It is trust in the character and promises of our faithful, all-wise God.

My friend, David O’Brien, told me, with his slurred and laboring voice, that God used cerebral palsy to deepen his dependence on Christ. Was he better off? He lived convinced that his 81 years of suffering were no cosmic accident or satanic victory, but a severe mercy from the good hand of almighty God.


Written with permission by Randy Alcorn
and Eternal Perspective Ministries.
http://www.epm.org/
Excerpts taken from Randy Alcorn’s Blog.
Please learn about Randy’s new booklet to
be released this summer, Grieving with Hope.
https://store.epm.org/future-products/


On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

0

Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Grief

Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and
all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house.
And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil
that the LORD had brought upon him.
JOB 42:11 (ESV)



When our ministry, Eternal Perspectives, posted Nanci’s words, “My cancer is God’s servant,” someone responded “WHAT? God does not give people cancer. Jesus bore our sicknesses and carried our pains on the cross.”

That reader is not alone in trying to distance God from suffering. But by saying sickness comes only from Satan and the fall, not from God , we disconnect Him from our suffering and His deeper purposes. God is sovereign. He never permits or uses evil arbitrarily; everything He does flows from His wisdom and ultimately serves both His holiness and love.

Joni Eareckson Tada often shares the words of her friend, Steve Estes: “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” God’s “permitting” something is far stronger than it may sound. After all, whatever God permits actually happens; what he doesn’t permit doesn’t happen.

In the final chapter of Job, God reveals that Job’s family and friends “showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). The author told us from the beginning that Job’s troubles were Satan’s idea and actions. Yet the inspired wording indicates Satan’s efforts were, indirectly, by sovereign permission, God’s own doing. Many find this truth disturbing, but properly understood, it should be comforting. What should be profoundly disturbing is the notion that God stands by passively while Satan, evildoers, diseases, and random accidents ruin the lives of His beloved children.

Charles Spurgeon suffered terribly from depression, gout, rheumatism, neuritis, and a burning kidney inflammation. Yet he said, “It would be a very sharp and trying experience for me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me … that my trials were never measured out by Him, nor sent to me by His arrangement of their weight and quantity.”



Written with permission by Randy Alcorn
and Eternal Perspective Ministries.
http://www.epm.org/

Excerpts taken from Randy Alcorn’s Blog.
Please learn about Randy’s new booklet to
be released this summer, Grieving with Hope.
https://store.epm.org/future-products/



On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

0

Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Grief

By your appointment they stand this day,
For all things are your servant.
PSALM 119:91 (ESV)



In March of 2022, my beloved wife, Nanci, lost her four-year battle with colon cancer. All 54 years I’ve known her, Nanci loved Jesus. But from a front-row seat, I watched a wonderful – and supernatural – change in those last four years.

In 2019, Nanci wrote to a friend and fellow cancer sufferer, “The cancer battle has been tough. However, my time with the Ancient of Days (one of my favorite names for God) has been epic! He has met me in ways I never knew were possible. I have experienced His sovereignty, mercy, and steadfast love in tangible ways. I now trust Him at a level I never knew I could.”

I saw Nanci meditate on Scripture daily, read great books about God, and journal – writing out verses, powerful quotations from Spurgeon and many others, and personal reflections. One unforgettable morning, after meditating on Psalm 119:91, “All things are your servants,” she shared with me what she’d just written:

“My cancer is God’s servant in my life. He is using it in ways He has revealed to me and in many more I have yet to understand. I can rest knowing my cancer is under the control of a sovereign God who is good and does good.”

Brokenhearted and Thankful
Nine months later, at Nanci’s request and on short notice, our daughters and their families gathered to hear her speak final words of overflowing love for us and unswerving trust in her sovereign King.

As one of our grandsons sat beside her, listening to her struggling to speak and to me reading powerful words from her journals, he said, “Grams, if you can trust God in this, I know I can trust Him in whatever I’ll go through.” Another grandson told her, “I will never forget what you said to us today.”

Exactly one week later, I held her hand and watched her take her last breath in this world under the curse.

Every day during those four years, I witnessed God’s sanctifying and happy-making work in my wife: “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope … because of God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:3-5).

Nanci and I – and thousands worldwide – prayed daily for her healing. God’s final answer was to rescue her from suffering and bring her into his presence where it is “better by far” (Philippians 1:23). Through her afflictions, He achieved in her an “eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). She praised Jesus for it, and I will forever do the same, though I miss her immensely.



Written with permission by Randy Alcorn
and Eternal Perspective Ministries.
http://www.epm.org/

Excerpts taken from Randy Alcorn’s Blog.
Please learn about Randy’s new booklet to
be released this summer, Grieving with Hope.
https://store.epm.org/future-products/

(Last year we had the privilege of meeting Randy Alcorn and spending some time with him over dinner. We were both so encouraged by him and what he shared about his wife’s journey with cancer and the grief journey he had personally been on since she went to be with Jesus. Randy leads the ministry of Eternal Perspective Ministries and has written many excellent, encouraging books on heaven. Here at Endurance, we send out Randy’s devotional “50 Days of Heaven” in every Encouragement Grief Box that we send out. We feel honored that he would allow us to share with all of you excerpts from his Blog on his journey with his wife, Nanci, and his insights into his journey through grief. May you be encouraged by Randy’s words.)


On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Perspectives

Taking Charge of Our Attitude

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person
by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,
which is good and pleasing and perfect.
ROMANS 12:2 (NLT)


Back when I was dealing with my “New Physical Normal” I was given this quote by Chuck Swindoll. I loved it so much that I had it printed, framed and hung it in my office. If you are experiencing any kind of “New Normal”, I hope that this is as much of an encouragement to you as it was to me.


ATTITUDE
by
Charles Swindoll


“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past … we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured

Dealing with a New Physical Normal
By Abi Gordon

For I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.
I have learned the secret of living in every situation,
whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
PHILIPPIANS 4:11-13


Don’t base your hope and joy on your circumstances or acceptance of others, but rather root them in Jesus and His promises. If you try to glean hope and joy from circumstances and acceptance, then you may experience much disappointment and heart ache.

It is guaranteed that some people will drift away from you when they see that you are different. They will forget to look beyond the physical differences to see your true self and heart that made them come to love you in the first place. I’ve experienced this loss of friends and it is painful to endure.

However, there will be those that remain in your life no matter what occurs, and their love will be such that they will adapt alongside you in your new normal. They will be happy to journey through life with you through thick and thin. These friends and family are treasures.

Our circumstances will always shift and break your dreams if you cling to them too tightly. It is wonderful and necessary to make dreams and plans, but hold them loosely. Know that God will guide your steps for what He knows is best for your life as He works to fulfill His plan and make all things work together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) Set your mind on the things of eternal nature, the promises that never fade, and most importantly, on Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)



So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:18



(Written with permission from the blog of Abi Gordon)
(Sign up for Abi’s Blog at EphemeralandFaithful.com)


On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Grief

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under the sun.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
ECCLESIASTES 3:1,4 (NLT)



It’s okay to grieve your new normal! People too often try to suppress the expression of other’s grief by making comments dripping in positivity or redirecting the sufferer from their grief because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Grief can rub others the wrong way because happiness and positivity is much more acceptable and comfortable to society overall. When a person is out of their comfort zone, they do what they can to change things to get back into their comfort zone even if it means they diminish someone else’s emotions. Humans like to fix things if they sense they are broken.


Even the DSM-5, which is the book of official diagnoses for psychological illnesses, created a new diagnosis in 2022 of “prolonged grief disorder.” I have such a problem with this because every human grieves differently in different ways and for different lengths of time. To force humanity into a box that squelches emotion is so wrong. Grief, about losing your body’s ability to function, does not mean you are broken, no matter how long you grieve or how you grieve!


Taking time to grieve yet trying not to dwell on the sorrow is a lifelong process and should be accepted, embraced and allowed. There is a time to grieve …


(Written with permission from the blog of Abi Gordon)
(Sign up for Abi’s Blog at EphemeralandFaithful.com)



On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Relationships

All praise to the God and Father of our Master,
Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times,
and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else
who is going through hard times so that we can
be there for that person just as God was there for us.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-5 (THE MESSAGE)


Look for opportunities to use your disability or illness to reach others in a similar situation. Humans naturally seek out those with similar desires, passions, situations, and hobbies. There’s something special about connecting with those who are also suffering physically. You can build each other up, guide one another through medical scenarios, creatively find ways to adapt to life and understand each other in ways that able-bodied folks cannot.


Even the Bible speaks, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, to comforting one another with the comfort we have received. There are ways you can connect with other people who are suffering via social media presence and specific social media groups, support groups at hospitals, friends of friends, and in-person connections. These people do not have to be in the same situation that you are in but can be anyone who has physical challenges.


You can learn from one another and edify one another in wonderful ways. This can provide great purpose to the suffering in your life as you lift each other up and encourage one another in your faith. I started a social media page where I educate people and have connected with so many people in similar situations who battle medical conditions. I have made very meaningful, long-lasting relationships with fellow warriors and caregivers alike. Using my illnesses and disabilities to help and love others has turned something terrible into something purposeful.


So speak encouraging words to one another.
Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this,
no one left out, no one left behind.
I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:11 (THE MESSAGE)



Written with permission from the blog of Abi Gordon
(Sign up for Abi’s Blog at EphemeralandFaithful.com)

On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Perseverance, Perspectives

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things
or that I have already reached perfection.
But I press on to possess that perfection
for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
No, dear brothers and sister, I have not achieved it
but I focus on this one thing:
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive
the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
PHILIPPIANS 3:12-14 (NLT)


Don’t get dangerously caught up in reminiscing the good old times of the past. This is one of the most difficult action steps to implement. Grieving the old you or the you that will never be, can be immensely overwhelming but it is completely unavoidable. I struggle with this day after day. There are days when I will scroll through my photos or social media and get caught in a cycle of daydreaming of what could have been; what should have been; yearning to be the old me again.


I miss me, I miss all I could do, I miss my happier demeanor, I miss having the friends who bailed just because of my illness, and I miss feeling like I fit into society normally. Dwelling on these desires tends to cause roots of bitterness to grow within my heart and self-hatred builds quickly. Some days I despise who I am. In these times, God has to intervene and help me simply live in the moment and love the moment that He has granted me now.


One of the biggest pieces of advice I have for those who are new to a disability or illness, is to try to look back at when the disability or illness began simply to see just how far you have come. Don’t look back at life before your disability occurred or your illness worsened, because you will likely only see all you have lost. I often have to force myself to look at photos from past surgeries and hospital stays or read old journals from when I was at the low points of my life to compare to where I am now. For instance, if I am trying desperately to get back to my ability to hike mountains, figure skate, and test to see if I can physically perform any of the duties of my old job, then I will only frustrate myself, break my heart, and invoke feelings of anger and deep sorrow due to my loss.


However, if I back up and remember to where I was physically when I was recovering right after major surgery, then I can be encouraged by how far the Lord has brought me. I could not even sit up or get ready for the day independently but now I can do everything independently with confidence. I travel, cook and bake, work part-time, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy the outdoors in my wheelchair, all as a result of my efforts at rehabilitation, both inpatient and daily.


Allowing your mind to drift back and dwell in the past will cause you to lose your appreciation for today and you will miss all the potential that the present day holds. Live and appreciate one moment at a time. Allow yourself to be present in each moment and then press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.


Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs,
but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
All athletes are disciplined in their training.
They do it to win a prize that will fade away,
but we do it for an eternal prize.
So I run with purpose in every step.
1 CORINTHIANS 9:24-27 (NLT)


(Written with permission from the blog of Abi Gordon)
(Sign up for Abi’s Blog at EphemeralandFaithful.com)

On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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