Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope, Perspectives

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
HEBREWS 12:1-2 (NIV)

Everything can change in an instant. We’ve all heard this, brushed it off, and thought it would never happen to us – until it did. Sometimes life can negatively change gradually though – the gradual change can kick you just as harshly as the instantaneous change. There is a quote from CS Lewis that says, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back, everything is different?” This is SO true.

Living with chronic illness, I have experienced both instantaneous and changes in my body’s functionality, which as you can imagine has affected my physical abilities and lifestyle. Many times, people say, “There is no way I could go through something like you go though.” Well, you may not have a choice at some point in your life. I certainly didn’t have a choice when my body turned on me. So just how does one navigate a new physical normal when you can never return to the old you as much as you try?

#1 Know that you are so much more than your
physical disability or illness.

In God’s eyes, you are created in his image and His love can never be overwhelmed by mere physical status. Many times, when a disability is developed or illness occurs, unfortunately it is not the first thing that people notice and comment on. Questions like, “How are you feeling today?” and “Can I help you?” are the first things they speak combined with a certain look of pity in their eyes and their actions. While these questions and their concern are well intended and grounded in thoughtfulness and love, they tend to forget to see beyond your broken physical body and ask about life, family, friendships, relationship with God and whatever other challenges you may need help with or prayer for in your life.

This constant focus by others on our body’s ailments can be discouraging, drag us down, and morph our perspective of our identity. Yes, we have a disability or illness, which is a huge part of who we are – it guides our actions, words, interactions, acceptance or denial by others and abilities. However, the foundation of our identity must be found in the Scripture as in Hebrews 12:2. Fixing our eyes on Jesus is vital to remember who we are: a human loved deeply and created in the image of God with a soul, a personality, interests, passions, gifts and uniqueness. There is so much more to us than our physical challenges, and this truth must be clung to when our identity is threatened by our physical status.

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.
People judge by outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 (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


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope

But you are a chosen people,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people belonging to God,
that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness
into his wonderful light.
1 PETER 2:9 (NIV)

Peter’s first letter, written to persecuted believers scattered throughout Asia Minor, is rich with real hope. This isn’t shallow “feel good” material; it is a deep well of wisdom, courage and need-specific counsel. So what do you say to Christian friends facing a prolonged season of pain, rejection or outright persecution? Peter’s letter offers a place to start.

Remind them of who they truly are! They are of inexpressible, surpassing value to God and his eternal kingdom (2:9-10).

But you are a chosen people …

Urge them to concentrate on the inner life, even in the midst of pressure and pain, recognizing that this will give opportunity to speak for God (3:13-15).

… But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord …

Encourage them to adopt the same mind-set that strengthened Jesus Christ as he faced suffering (4:1).

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves with the same attitude …

Encourage them to let pain and pressures turn them outward in love and hospitality, rather than inward in self absorption (4:8-9).

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins…

Urge them to humble themselves before God during their disappointment or difficult circumstances and remind them that Jesus Christ invites us to cast all our anxiety upon him (5:5-7).

… Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Challenge them to stand firm in the face of Satan’s attacks, remembering that they are not alone in their distress (5:8-10).

Be self-controlled and alert… Resist him, standing firm in the faith …

None of Peter’s counsel is sugar-coated. None of it is trite. But all of it speaks mountains of hope to our hearts. And isn’t that what we all most need?

And the God of all grace,
who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you and make you
strong, firm and steadfast.
To him be the power for ever and ever.
1 PETER 5:10 (NIV)


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope

To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,
who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge
of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit,
for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood;
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

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 –
kept in heaven for you,
who through faith are shielded by God’s power
until the coming of the salvation
that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 PETER 1:1-5 (NIV)

Imagine sitting down to write a letter to a friend who has endured a long period of personal struggle or pain – and who faces even more in the days ahead. What could you say? What counsel could you suggest? What comfort could you offer?

Sugar-coated platitudes and warm, fuzzy sentiments just won’t cut it. Neither will bland statements or trite generalizations. Your friend doesn’t need a greeting card; he or she needs hope – a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to carry on in the face of hardship and opposition. No pseudo-hope will do. What your friend really needs is a living hope.

Remind them that we are “strangers” in this world (1 Peter 1:1). Our real citizenship, our true residence is in heaven.

Remind them that we have a living hope that nothing can destroy (vv. 3-5).

Assure them that trials are neither wasted nor without purpose. Through it all, our faith is being refined like gold, and our Lord gains honor and glory through our responses (vv. 6-7).

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while
you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These 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 1:6-7 (NIV)

On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope

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.

I am helped to endure my trials 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 also pray that you will be strengthened
with all his glorious power so that you will have
all the endurance and patience you need.
May you be filled with joy.

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope

In this you greatly rejoice, though for now for a little while
you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These 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.
Though you have not seen 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 goal of your faith,
the salvation of your souls.
1 PETER 1:6-9 (NIV)

Though we have not seen Him, He calls us to love Him. Though we do not see Him now, He calls us to believe in Him (even if things aren’t going so well). And the result when we do so? We are filled with “inexpressible and glorious joy” which will culminate in the salvation of our souls.

Seeing is not always necessary for believing. What is necessary is trust in the One who has shown Himself faithful. Placing our faith in Him is not gullible, it’s smart – or in Jesus’ words, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” JOHN 20:29

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.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
For we know how dearly God loves us,
because he has given us the Holy Spirit
to fill our hearts with his love.
ROMANS 5:3-5 (NLT)

On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope

Jesus looked at them and said,
“With man this is impossible,
but not with God;
all things are possible with God.”
MARK 10:27 (NIV)

What a potent dose of encouragement is verse 27, where Jesus reminds us that “all things are possible with God.” When we are suffering, we sometimes forget this. Our minds cloud over with doubt and uncertainty, and what really seems omnipotent to us is our affliction.

Thank God, this is never true! Not even with an affliction as dreaded as cancer, the following poem is true of any affliction we may face:

Cancer is so limited …
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot eat away peace,
It cannot destroy confidence,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot shut out memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the Spirit,
It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.

Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him;
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end
He will stand on the earth.
JOB 13:15, 19:25 (NIV)

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Fear, Featured, Hope

At once the Spirit sent Him out into the desert,
and He was in the desert forty days,
being tempted by Satan.
He was with the wild animals,
and angels attended Him.
MARK 1:12-13 (NIV)

We usually notice the first part of verse 13 – the threatening, dark part: Jesus “was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan.” But the last part of this verse (“He was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him”) can slip by us without notice. In Jesus’s day many wild animals prowled in this land, but God kept Jesus safe by sending angels to guard Him, just as the Israelites had been guarded in the desert by angelic hosts (Exodus 23:20, 23; 32:34).

When we feel alone, vulnerable or endangered, it is comforting to know that spiritual realities exist beyond our immediate experience. Though we may not sense or feel God’s presence, He is with us. One of the ways He is present is through sending angels to “guard us in our ways” (Psalm 91:11,12). So even it you are feeling all alone, don’t count on it – for “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him: (Psalm 34:7).

Therefore, angels are only servants –
spirits sent to care for people
who will inherit salvation.

On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope

Now when Daniel learned that
the decree had been published,
he went home to his upstairs room
where the windows opened toward Jerusalem.
Three times a day he got down
on his knees and prayed,
giving thanks to his God,
just as he had done before.

Daniel knew very well that, as the prophet Isaiah had said, God is our Great Shepherd, who “gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Isaiah 40:11). How His divine heart must leap for joy when we ask for His help and protection! That is no doubt what Daniel was doing when he got down on his knees and three times a day prayed and gave thanks to God (v. 10).

When we feel vulnerable and uncertain, we can always pray for God’s help in:
allowing Him to instruct us
trusting Him to lead us
resisting the temptation to “go it alone”
rejecting the lure of self pity
resting in God’s strength and care rather than our own.

The Bible assures us that we can draw near to God in prayer, even as Daniel did. And He who heard that man of God will certainly hear us as well.

So then, since we have a great High Priest
who has entered heaven,
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold firmly to what we believe.
This High Priest of ours
understands our weaknesses,
for He faced all of the same testings we do,
yet He did not sin.
So let us come boldly
to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive His mercy,
and we will find grace to help us
when we need it most.
HEBREWS 4:14-16 (NLT)

On the journey with you,
Dave & Jan Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope

…darkness is my closest friend.
PSALM 88:18 (NIV) (Words of King David)

Shortly after I arrived home from a speaking engagement in West Palm Beach, I received a letter in the mail with an article on depression. I appreciated the letter. It was kind and gracious. But the article wasn’t any help. It claimed to be the Biblical answer to depression. It quoted a few verses and then gave this advice: “Force your mind into sunshine thoughts. Do this especially when your mind starts the ‘instant replays’ of old fears and depressive thoughts.”

I’m sorry, but to me, forcing your mind into “sunshine thoughts” when you’re going through a time of depression is like standing in the rain and denying there’s a storm. Faith is not denying the weather that sweeps over your life. It’s believing that behind the clouds and beyond the storms waits a faithful God.

“The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
LAMENTATIONS 3:19:24 (NLT) (Words of the Prophet Jeremiah)

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Hope

Then I thought in my heart,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said in my heart,
“This, too, is meaningless.”
For the wise man, like the fool,
will not be long remembered;
in days to come both will be forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise man too must die!

Solomon was right when he declared, “Like the fool, the wise man too must die!” But that’s where the similarities end, for life for the righteous doesn’t end at death. Joseph S. Flacks, a devoted Christian of the past generation, understood this well. He prepared a special postcard to be mailed to his friends upon his death. On August 1, 1940, he died and the cards were dated and sent out. Joseph’s message read:

Triumphant through Grace
This is to announce: I moved out of the old mud house (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Arrived in Glory-land instantly, in the charge of an angelic escort (Luke 16:22).
Absent from the body, at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6).
I find as foretold (Psalm 16:11), in His presence fullness of joy … pleasures forevermore!
Will look for you on the way up at the redemption of the body (Romans 8:23). Till then, look up!

For we know that when this early tent we live in
is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body),
we will have a house in heaven,
an eternal body made for us by God himself
and not by human hands.

And we believers also groan,
even though we have the Holy Spirit within us,
as a foretaste of future glory,
For we long for our bodies
to be released from sin and suffering.
We, too, wait with eager hope
for the day when God will give us
our full rights as his adopted children,
including the new bodies
he has promised us.

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky