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

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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, 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, Grief

My heart cries out over Moab;
her fugitives flee as far as Zoar,
as far as Eglath Shelishiyah.
They go up the way to Luhith,
weeping as they go;
on the road to Horonaim
they lament their destruction.
ISAIAH 15:1-5 (NIV)



The ancients seem a lot better than we are at expressing deep emotion. We often bottle it up; they raised their voices in loud laments. “My heart cries out over Moab,” Isaiah wailed. We might follow their example.


I used to deny my feelings of sadness until my doctor insisted I let them out. One Christmas I was upstairs alone in our guest room, wrapping presents for the kids. I thought of past Christmas seasons when I would delight in choosing just the right gift for my parents. How I looked forward to watching them open their presents! But both had passed away years before and I would never be able to give them another Christmas gift. My heart was sad.


My first instinct was to run, get the children and cheer myself up. Then I recalled my doctor’s voice: “Stop!” So I stopped and allowed myself to feel. Soon I started to cry. I didn’t just cry; I wailed, feeling the sorrow from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. Yet after I was done, I felt lighter, cleaner. Crying felt so good that I wondered why I had avoided it for so many years.



A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
ECCLESIASTES 3:4 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Grief

Then Joshua tore his clothes and
fell facedown to the ground
before the ark of the Lord,
remaining there till evening.
JOSHUA 7:6 (NIV)



When Joshua was overcome with grief and despair because of Achan’s sin, he didn’t try to keep a stiff upper lip or to stuff his emotions. Rather, he fell on his face before the Lord and expressed himself openly.


Here are a few thoughts on expressing grief, compiled by a panel of grief therapists: Don’t suppress the pain you feel; it will only resurface later. Experience it, feel it, and resist the temptation to “stuff it.” Grieving is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of integrity. Grief means you are being honest about the feelings in your heart.

Talk about your loss instead of trying to protect your friends and family by your silence. Seek out people who understand what you are experiencing.

Perhaps join a grief support group or see a grief counselor. It’s okay to tell family and friends what you want them to do to help you grieve.


No matter how you feel, talk with God. Even if you are angry, tell God. He’s big enough to handle your pain and your questions.


You’re blessed when you feel
you’ve lost what is most dear to you.
Only then can you be embraced
by the One most dear to you.
MATTHEW 5:4 (THE MESSAGE)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Grief, Prayer, Words of Endurance

Then he prayed, “Oh Lord,
God of my master Abraham,
Give me success today,
and show kindness to my master Abraham.
GENESIS 24:12 (NIV)



We tend to think that prayer should come easily to us, and many times it does. But prayer in the face of suffering can be a different story.



We are often surprised when prayer becomes difficult, when it seems fruitless, when the needs of the moment are so overwhelming that we don’t know where to begin. During these times it’s easy to lose confidence in our ability to pray or in God’s willingness to respond.



The truth is, prayer can be extremely hard work. Oswald Chambers describes it as “not a preparation for work, it is work. Prayer is not a preparation for the battle, it is the battle.”



And that about wraps it up.
God is strong, and he wants you strong.
So take everything the Master has set out for you,
well-made weapons of the best materials…
God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.
In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.
Pray hard and long.
EPHESIANS 6:10, 17, 18 (THE MESSAGE)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
DAVE & JAN DRAVECKY

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Grief, Prayer, Words of Endurance

God heard the boy crying,
and the angel of the Lord called to Hagar
from heaven and said to her,
“What is the matter Hagar? Do not be afraid;
God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
Lift the boy up and take him by the hand,
for I will make his into a great nation.”
GENESIS 21:17-18 (NIV)



“Lord, thanks for putting the warning sign up there that tells us we will suffer, that suffering is a part of life in this fallen world. But thanks also for allowing us – for allowing me – the freedom to express my fears about the future. For only when I do so am I able to realize my dependence upon the One who understands my suffering better than anyone. Because he did not lose heart when He suffered, I, too, can find the strength to live courageously in my own difficult circumstances. Amen!”



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.
Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;
then you won’t become weary and give up.
HEBREWS 12:1-3 (NLT)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
DAVE DRAVECKY

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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.
PSALM 23:1-4 (THE MESSAGE)



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.



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
DAVE & JAN DRAVECKY

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Grace, Grief, Pain, Words of Endurance

EXCERPT FROM MENDED: (OUT OF THE RAG PILE, BACK ON THE HANGER


BY DEBBIE WOODS (PUBLISHED BY HIGHERLIFE PUBLISHING)



Be gentle with one another, sensitive.
EPHESIANS 4:32 (THE MESSAGE)



By God’s design and to my surprise, I have become deeply involved with a delightful young family. The first son and his twin brothers are only twenty months apart in age – quite a challenge for any mom right there. But in addition, the eldest has autism, and the twins have craniosynostosis, a genetic disorder that affects the skull, neck, head, face, mouth, teeth and hands. Multiple surgeries and complicated orthodontia are required, along with various ongoing physical and speech therapies. Later their sister was born. She, too, has developmental needs. Each child is a delight with unique talents, gifts, and personalities. They enrich my life.



I have spent thousands of hours with these kids, frequently out in public for an adventure together. Generally, I’m too busy directing and supervising them to notice those around us. But over the years, I’ve drawn a conclusion regarding people observing us. When the children with an unusual appearance act inappropriately, I see sympathetic smiles and nods. Some people will comment on my patience or kindness in the situation.



But when the child who appears normal is behaving oddly, I see critical looks and disdain. I believe the assumption is that the child isn’t well trained or disciplined, in need of correction. No mercy or compassion is offered.



It occurs to me that we are all special needs people. We are all fighting a battle, whether seen or unseen. We are all wounded, whether the scars are obvious or not. Dressed in our Sunday best – the tragedy, abuse, violence, pain, neglect, injustices, mental illness, physical illness, and spiritual torment of our lives are neatly tucked in and covered up. Add a smile and “we clean up real good.”



Others assume we are well balanced, well trained, and well prepared to be well behaved in any situation. If we aren’t, criticism and disapproval abound. If our “disorders” and “developmental needs” were known, perhaps others would respond with compassion instead of judgment.



As God, The Great Physician, tends to each of us, let us remember to show grace, kindness, and gentleness to His other patients. Do not be fooled by the Sunday Best; there are stitches, scars, and braces holding us all together beneath the coverings. We are a brotherhood of The Mended.



Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic,
be loving, be compassionate, be humble.
That goes for all of you, no exceptions.
No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm.
Instead, bless – that’s your job, to bless.
You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
1 PETER 3:8-9 (THE MESSAGE)



CONFIDENTLY,
ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Grace, Grief, Peace, Words of Endurance

EXCERPT FROM MENDED: OUT OF THE RAG PILE, BACK ON THE HANGER
BY DEBBIE WOODS (PUBLISHED BY HIGHERLIFE PUBLISHING)



Always be humble and gentle.
Be patient with each other,
making allowance for each other’s faults
because of your love.
EPHESIANS 4:2 (NLT)



“They are all idiots and they are all aimed at you!” (Words of wisdom from my father as he taught me to drive.) “Look out – expect the unexpected from the fools around you.” They are all idiots and all aimed at you became a life motto for me – at the mall, at the grocery store, at the theater, in the school car pool pickup lane, in the church parking lot. I saw a piece of unframed art in an interior design store – an adorable 1950’s child with a hair bow, a rose in her hand and a blank stare. Next to her is the dictionary definition of “idiot”: mentally defective, imbecile, moron, fool, witling. Below, in large graphic print, is the caption “Most of the people around me on any given day.” Can I get an Amen?



BUT then I met THE Father and Amy Grant was singing of “My Father’s Eyes.” And Jesus saw me as a child who had not been loved enough. And Jesus looked beyond my faults and saw my needs. And Jesus had compassion on me – helpless and harassed like a sheep without a shepherd. And I was awed that Jesus walked among the crowds and masses of people, the idiots, fools, and morons, with love and without irritation. And I was humbled by grace.



And THE Father gave me grace -colored glasses to see others as my companions in woundedness. And THE Father instructed me to accept life and people with humility and patience, making allowances for them. And THE Father filled me with His Spirit and the fruit of love, peace, patience and gentleness.



I now wear prescription bifocal sunglasses to drive. This requires me to remove my grace-colored glasses. Now when I’m in traffic with my father’s voice in my head again – “They are all idiots, and they are all aimed at you!” Heaven help me! I know, Daddy, I know. Should I honk or just run them off the road to teach them a lesson? Maybe they are just normal people in their normal confusion on a normal day, like me. Maybe I should make peace with flawed humanity. Maybe I should make allowances for them, as Jesus does for me. Maybe they, too, are slashed and shredded, in need of mending. Can I get an Amen?



Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,
You must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,
Kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Make allowance for each other’s faults,
And forgive anyone who offends you.
COLOSSIANS 3:12-13 (NLT)



CONFIDENTLY,
ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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