Doubt, Endurance for the Journey, Fear, Grace, Healing, Hope, Lighten Your Load, Words of Endurance

I am not saying this because I am in need,
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

As a Christian athlete, whenever I was being tested physically, my mantra was always –

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

When I was stricken with cancer, I would recite this same verse over and over reminding myself that I, too, could overcome this new obstacle. But after several surgeries and radiation, I was seriously weakened and I began to doubt whether I had the strength to ever overcome this one. I was frustrated with my own weakness and inability to overcome.

A friend of mine was aware of my weakened and discouraged state, and decided that I could use some encouragement. He asked his friend, Chuck Swindoll, a well-known pastor and author, to give me a call and encourage me. Since I had listened to Chuck on the radio for years and admired him greatly, I was thrilled when I answered the phone and realized it was he who was calling me.

Chuck told me that he wanted to call and encourage me with a vignette that he was writing on Philippians 4:11-13. I remember immediately popping up and saying proudly to him that Philippians 4:13 was one of my favorite life verses.

He responded gently back to me and said, “Yes, Dave that is a powerful verse but your emphasis should not be on verse 13 alone but also on verses 11 and 12 that proceed that verse.”

He then shared that Paul stated that he had learned the secret of contentment no matter what his circumstances. He pointed out that Paul was under house arrest at the time. He had experienced poverty and prosperity, being filled and going hungry, having abundance and suffering need – yet in all circumstances he experienced contentment.

Chuck then shared “Contentment is possible no matter how dire your circumstances. The secret to Paul’s contentment was knowing Christ’s strength was perfected in his weakness.” He then quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 where Paul wrote:

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake,
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When I considered that Christ’s strength was perfected in my weakness – my own inability to overcome – I experienced contentment because I knew I could trust Him no matter how dire my circumstances – no matter how weak I am.

What is the secret of contentment even through the trials of life? Focus on Jesus not your circumstances.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
PSALM 73:26

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Anger, Endurance for the Journey, Grief, Lighten Your Load, Perspectives, Trust, Words of Endurance

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering,
as though something strange were happening to you.
1 PETER 4:12

No one wants to suffer – no one enjoys suffering – it is even worse when we are taken by surprise – blindsided by the painful trial – there is no perfect time to fit suffering into your schedule.

I found that whenever I encountered a trial or affliction, I not only would experience the pain of the affliction but I would then experience shock (I absolutely hate surprises), anger (I was angry that I even had to go through this) and then resistance to the affliction.

Then one day, in the midst of our darkest valley, a friend gave me the book, Let Go by Fenelon and I read his following words:

“A cross which comes from God ought to be welcomed without any concern for self. And when you accept your cross this way, even though it is painful, you will find that you can bear it in peace. But when you receive your cross unwillingly, you will find it to be doubly severe. The resistance within is harder to bear than the cross itself! But if you recognize the hand of God, and make no opposition to His Will, you will have peace in the midst of affliction. Happy indeed are they who can bear their sufferings with this simple peace and perfect submission to the will of God! Nothing so shortens and soothes suffering as this spirit of non-resistance.”

WOW! It was another AHA moment for me. Suddenly, I realized that not only did I carry the pain of our affliction – something that I did not choose nor could I change – but I also compounded and intensified my pain with my anger and resistance – something I chose to feel and I could change. I was choosing to carry double and triple pain when I only needed to carry the single pain of the affliction, which provided enough pain by itself.

When I finally accepted the affliction, trusted and submitted to the will of God – knowing that nothing happens to me that first does not pass through His Hands – my anger and resistance dissipated. This shift in perspective and position lightened the extra load I was carrying – I actually experienced peace in the midst of the affliction.

“Choices. Choices make the difference. Two people are in the same accident and severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident. It happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives and the lives of their families and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and remember what happens. It is precisely these spiritual choices that determine whether we live our lives with dignity.”

We always have a Spiritual choice. Whenever we face affliction and pain, while we may initially respond with our flesh in anger and resistance, we can shed the weight of our negative emotions by turning our eyes upon Jesus – trusting Him – a Spiritual Choice. As we consider Him who endured unbelievable suffering, we, too, can endure the journey through suffering.

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.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
HEBREWS 12:2-3


Endurance for the Journey, Grief, Hope, Lighten Your Load, Love, Words of Endurance

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
let us strip off every weight that slows us down

When your journey takes you into the valley of suffering, it is so important to assess the load that you are carrying and discard any needless weight. Needless weight will slow you down and eventually burn you out. I know this from my own personal experience.

I always felt responsible for everyone and everything. I honestly once believed that whatever came across my path – God wanted me to take care of. And up until we entered our valley of suffering I did a pretty good job of juggling and carrying all that life threw at us. God soon showed me how ridiculous that belief truly was.

After Dave’s comeback, the breaking of his arm and subsequent surgeries, he required a large amount of care and attention. During this time, Dave was incapacitated and unable to do anything, I was Dave’s caregiver, the single parent to our two young children and also ran our household alone.

But the load became unbearable when I also tried to continue to meet the needs of extended family, friends and even mere acquaintances. Any request that was made of me I tried to fulfill – I could not say no – I wanted to please everyone. I remember thinking – isn’t this what God expects from me?

Of course, I could not sustain that unrealistic load and I collapsed under the weight of it all. In order to be restored and endure this journey, I needed to establish what my priorities were, reassess the load I was carrying and strip off any needless weight.

I was surprised to learn that while my top priorities were my husband and my children, my own personal health was a priority too. I needed to take care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually so that I would be strong enough to take care of Dave and the kids – this was not being selfish but selfless. What a relief – it was OK for me to take care of me!

“…love your neighbor as yourself.”

I casted needless weight when I learned the truth that the extra burdens that I had been carrying had not been placed there by God but by me. God did not expect me to take care of every need that came across my path. I had the right to set boundaries and say no to lesser priorities so I would be able to take care of my higher priorities. What a revelation for me – what freedom!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
JOHN 8:32

Praise God that He is not the taskmaster that I thought He once was! I learned the complete opposite to be true …

Then Jesus said,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you.
Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
MATTHEW 11:28-30

Praise God for His Truth. He helped me lighten my load and enabled me to endure. Establish your priorities – allow Him to lighten your load so that you too may endure your journey.

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Healing, Lighten Your Load, Love, Relationships, Words of Endurance

“Carry each other’s burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

I always believed, as we are told in Scripture, that we are to “Carry each other’s burdens.” I did my best to help carry everyone’s supposed burdens with a sacrificial love.

A major problem for me was while I so willingly offered my help to others I was unable to receive help from anyone. Even when we entered our valley of suffering, I refused others’ offers of help – I didn’t want to impose – I believed I could take care of myself.

But the truth was that I could not bear my burdens alone and I collapsed under their oppressive weight. Fortunately, I did turn for help to a Christian counselor. Through his Godly guidance and insight, I learned many valuable lessons. Let me share one of his most valuable insights into the Scripture and my life.

My counselor told me in Galatians 6:2 – burden in the Greek translates into boulder; a boulder is something that is too heavy for an individual to carry alone. So yes, we as Christians are to come alongside one another with a sacrificial love and help carry one another’s boulders.

BUT THEN he pointed out that the Scripture also says:

“ … for each one should carry his own load.”

Load in the Greek translates into knapsack; a knapsack is something that each individual is responsible to carry on his own. So, there are boulders and there are knapsacks. We are to help carry one another’s boulders but not one another’s knapsacks. When we carry one another’s knapsacks we get in the way of their maturing process.

I’ll never forget what my counselor said to me next – it was a major “A-HA” moment in my life.

He said, “Jan, the reason you have collapsed is because first of all, you would not let anyone help you carry the boulders in your own life – they were too heavy for you to carry alone. You need to learn to receive from others.”

He continued, “And secondly, yes – you helped carry everyone’s boulders but you also tried to carry everyone’s knapsacks. You are not responsible to carry anyone’s knapsack. In order for you to heal and lead a healthy life, you need to learn to discern between what is a boulder or knapsack in one’s life before you offer to help carry it.”

The load that I had been carrying was lightened when I learned that there are seasons in life – seasons to give and seasons to receive. I learned to receive help with the boulders in my life and my load was lightened.

When I stopped carrying others’ knapsacks – a needless weight – my load was lightened even more.

Are you allowing others to help you carry the boulders in your life? Are you carrying others’ knapsacks? My prayer for you is that God will show you the boulders in your life that you need to let others help you bear and that He will also show you the needless knapsacks that you are carrying for others.

“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down,
especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
And let us run with endurance
the race God has set before us. ‘

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky