Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Loss

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
You consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to You;
You are the helper of the fatherless.
PSALM 10:14 (NIV)

It’s a great comfort to know that God sees my pain and that He promises to help the weak. Psalm 10:14 reminds us, “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.”

This is good to remember, for when our emotions are raw from the onslaught of pain, they can become like an open wound, reacting to the slightest touch or the least movement. They are like a radio turned to full volume; the overwhelming noise can make it impossible to distinguish a single, still small voice. No wonder we question where God is when pain overtakes us! We can’t hear Him or feel His warmth or His presence. We hear only noise; we feel only pain.

But He is there all the time, ever speaking, never silent. Our challenge is to be still and to offer Him our wounds to heal, so we can feel His touch again. As the suffering psalmist also said to the Lord, “The victim commits himself to you.” This is the wisest course of action when suffering comes calling.

Be still and know that I am God.
PSALM 46:10 (NLT)

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Loss

Suffering Confronts Me
My heart is troubled and restless.
Days of suffering torment me.
I walk in gloom, without sunlight.
I stand in the public square and cry for help.
JOB 30:27-28 (NLT)

Some time after Dave’s amputation, I was driving to the cleaners, taking his suits to be altered. (We get the left sleeve cut off and have a shoulder built in, so the suit doesn’t look awkward on his body.)

I looked over at the suits and thought about what I was doing. Not only about the sleeve about to be cut off, but also about the arm that used to be in that sleeve. I thought about the shoulder I used to lean on, the shoulder that was now gone.I could have tried to think about something else, but I didn’t. I allowed myself to feel the sadness of my loss.

With Dave’s amputation I lost the arms that used to hold me, the hand on which he wore his wedding ring, the hand that held mine when we were dating in high school. Tears blurred my vision, and I sobbed as I drove down the freeway. I let the sadness run its course. Finally I felt a good strong sense of relief that came from allowing the sadness to flow out with my tears.

Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
PSALM 30:5 (NLT)

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Loss

Job continued speaking:
“I long for the years gone by
when God took care of me,
when he lit up the way before me
and I walked safely through the darkness.
When I was in my prime,
God’s friendship was felt in my home.
The Almighty was still with me,
and my children were around me.”
JOB 29:1-5 (NLT)

The hardest part of suffering isn’t the pain; it’s the loss. In Job 29 the suffering patriarch reminisces over all he’s lost. I know what that’s like. I’ve lost something that meant a very great deal to me. All my life I was a baseball player. My left arm made me one. Now it’s gone.

One day I was lying on my bed, feeling really frustrated with my life. All my feelings built up until I couldn’t contain them. “I’m sick of it,” I said aloud. “I’m tired of being an amputee.”

I wanted to cry. I let my mind go back to my days in Little League, in high school and college, in the minors and the majors. I recalled fond memories of throwing the ball, getting players out. I would never get to do that again. That was the first time I’d taken time to miss my arm, to realize that it was gone for good, to let the sadness sink in.

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.

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Loss


“But now that he is dead,
why should I fast?
I will go to him,
but he will not return to me.”
2 SAMUEL 12:23 (NIV)

King David’s words after the death of his infant son have always brought me great comfort. They remind me that death is not final, that it is only a temporary separation from the ones we love.

That knowledge helps lessen the pain of separation but it doesn’t make it go away. It can’t … because a piece of our heart is missing, a piece that has gone ahead.

With the death of someone we love, our longing for heaven grows stronger, because that is where our heart is, taken there a piece at a time by the ones we loved on this earth.

And now, dear brothers and sisters,
we want you to know what will happen
to the believers who have died
so you will not grieve like people
who have no hope.

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Cancer, Grace, Hope, Loss, Prayer, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do,
everywhere you go;
He’s the one who will keep you on track.

One cloudy gray day several months after my amputation, I was driving the car and my emotional state pretty much matched the weather. I was struggling to make sense out of all that had happened to me during the previous few years and I wasn’t coming up with any answers. I had achieved my dream of becoming a Major League Pitcher but a diagnosis of cancer in my pitching arm rocked my world. First there was the surgery that promised to end my career, then my amazing comeback – then just a few days later my arm broke mid pitch – then the reoccurrence of the cancer, more surgeries, radiation, infection and finally – no arm.

I knew I could trust God but I had begun taking a hard look at my life. I wondered where my life might be headed. No arm, no career – just where did God want me to go?

Through the gloom of that day a song came over the car radio and caught my ear:

“First I want to thank You Lord
for being who You are.
For coming to the rescue of a man who’s drifted far.
For calling me to be Your son
and calling me to serve,
Lord the way You’ve blessed my life
is more than I deserve.”

Somehow that song touched my heart right where I was at that point in time. As it continued I broke down and cried.

“Let me be the evidence of what Your Grace can do,
to generations struggling to find themselves in You.
May they come to know the love of God.
May their eyes be made to see.
Give me the opportunity to
share the truth that sets them free!”
That was it! That song spoke into my life and directed it to where it needed to go. It perfectly expressed the vision in my heart – a vision I had not yet been able to see.

I never expected to cry from a song but I prayerfully and tearfully joined in the chorus:

“This is my prayer,
lifted to you,
Knowing you care
even more than I do.
This is my prayer lifted in Your name.
Your will be done
I humbly pray.”

I haven’t heard that song for years but the memory of it takes me back to that grey rainy day when God broke through my fog and gloom and reminded me of my heart’s deepest desire – for my life to reflect Jesus where ever He will lead me. What a treasure!

When you hurt,
I mean really hurt,
Where are the blessings?
What good can actually come of it?
Suffering can not only draw you closer to God,
But He can use it to reveal blessings
that will give you hope to hang onto.

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

(The song “Prayer” was sung by Petra and written by Bob Hartman, John Elefante)


Grief, Loss, Perspectives, Words of Endurance

A healthy spirit conquers adversity,
but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?

If we live long enough – broken bodies, damaged relationships or tattered dreams will eventually lead us through the valley of suffering. Many of us who sojourn through that misty lowland find that our perspectives on life, God and suffering are shattered along the way. What we believe as we descend into that valley is often not what we believe when we finally emerge.

Consider the story of Job for example. Job’s story was probably the first portion of the Bible to be written and it reveals the drama of one man’s traumatic journey through suffering. Despite his horrific loss of family, fortune and health, Job entered the valley with a noble perspective on suffering. He didn’t resign himself to bitterness. He didn’t succumb to his wife’s advice to “curse God and die.” Initially, his perspective was firmly intact:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
God’s name be ever blessed.

But as his suffering wore on without resolution Job started asking questions – questions that revealed the growing stress cracks in his perspective on life.

Job was widely revered as one of the godliest men in the land. He walked with God daily and trusted God to take care of him. So when the circumstances of his life continued to go from bad to worse, Job didn’t know what to make of it. How could a good God allow such terrible suffering to continue? Why wasn’t God taking care of him? He cried out …

Let up on me, will you?
Can’t you even let me spit in peace?
Even suppose I’d sinned—how would that hurt you?
You’re responsible for every human being.
Don’t you have better things to do than pick on me?

For chapter upon chapter we can read Job’s questions regarding what he had believed about life, righteousness, relationships, justice, mercy, wisdom – and yes, even his relationship with God. Job’s perspective on life and the reason for his suffering was completely shattered. Try as he might he could not make his beliefs about suffering line up with his experience. What a devastating blow! He easily could have become callous and hardened toward God – prolonged suffering and unanswered questions can do that to a person.

But interspersed among Job’s wrestling with the questions, we also see the rock-solid elements of a perspective that held up under the pressure. Listen to the precious nuggets he shouted out across the valley of suffering:

God’s wisdom is so deep, God’s power so immense,
who could take him on and come out in one piece?

Because even if he killed me,
I’d keep on hoping.

Still, I know that God lives—
the One who gives me back my life—
and eventually he’ll take his stand on earth.

No matter how dim his view of what he experienced on earth, Job had one perspective that never shattered – Job knew that God was God and he revered and feared God’s awesome power and authority. Despite all he did not understand – Job knew without a doubt that God was the only one who could redeem him.

God honored Job’s perspective. In time, God delivered him from his suffering and blessed him beyond what he could have imagined. And in a stunning twist of perspective we can see that Job’s experience of suffering was more of an expression of God’s confidence in Job than His contempt.

Job had no idea that his response to suffering made him a key player in a heavenly battle but God has revealed the whole story – the reason for Job’s suffering – to us. Perhaps that is one reason God gave us the book of Job so early in history. Perhaps God knew how much we needed a glimpse behind the scenes – a grander perspective in the valley of suffering so that we could say with Job …

You asked,
‘Who is this that questions
my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things
I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
JOB 42:3 (NLT)

On the Journey with You,
Dave & Jan Dravecky


Depression, Discovering Who I Am, Doubt, Guilt, Healing, Hope, Loss, Pain, Words of Endurance

Lord, have mercy, because I am in misery.
My eyes are weak from so much crying,
and my whole being is tired from grief.

It took an act of God to convince me that I was depressed. Me? Dave Dravecky depressed? You have got to be kidding me! I was always taught that it was impossible for a Christian to be depressed if he or she were walking with the Lord. I bought into that teaching and denied all my symptoms (as well as Jan’s) of depression. At that time, admitting that I was depressed and seeking professional help would have been like confessing sin.

I really believed that if I kept a positive attitude and kept trying to help others I could and should get around my own emotional pain without going through it. As an athlete, I had learned how to push past the pain. If I stopped pushing myself whenever I felt physical pain I never would have made it to the big leagues. So naturally I applied the same jock mentality to emotional pain but it didn’t work.

It didn’t work because I was going the wrong way and it nearly killed me. It was true …

There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.

My way of dealing with my pain pushed me into unhealthy habits that inevitably lead to depression. And what finally triggered the depression? I can tell you in one word: exhaustion – I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

Immediately after my amputation I pushed myself into a busy speaking schedule – I said yes to almost every request made of me. I had been given a message from God for people who were suffering and I was determined to deliver it. As a result, I ended up exhausted.

And to make matters worse I kept busy to avoid dealing with my emotional pain and loss. My pain was still within me – waiting to be addressed – draining me just as much as my hectic schedule. To this day I can’t clearly remember those months – it’s a blur – as though I were living in a fog. I was living in the fog of depression.

The hectic schedule wasn’t the only thing that exhausted me, however. Trying to do things with my remaining hand – the nondominant one at that – made me mentally tired. I had always worked well with my hands and now I was fumbling all over the place – that exhausted me.

And pain itself is exhausting. Having to mentally deal with pain – day in and day out – sapped my energy. I experienced phantom pain daily and the pain could be unbelievable. My left hand would cramp up. Just to release the cramp I would mentally have to pry loose my missing fingers. Sometimes the ends of my finger felt like they were on fire.

And then there was the contribution of my fears, doubts, worry and then guilt. When these emotions engulfed me it was like a tidal wave had hit me and that wave did me in. No wonder I was experiencing depression!

But then I finally listened to the Godly, Biblical counsel of others.

Fools think their own way is right,
but the wise listen to others.

After about three weeks of counseling I realized that I was just as depressed as Jan was. But what a wonderful place to make such discovery – under the care and guidance of a Godly counselor – an act of God! Bit by bit I began to understand how my way of dealing with my pain was not God’s way. I learned God’s Way – God’s Truth. I needed to open my heart and address and confess my pain. What came out was, “I’m scared. I’m afraid. I don’t want to die. Where is my faith that I have so strongly professed? I am so weak and tired.”

You know there was great freedom in admitting that truth. The truth of God’s Word set me free but so did the truth about myself that only the Holy Spirit could expose. There was wonderful freedom for me in knowing I don’t have to be anything but who I truly am – the good, the bad and the ugly – even me depressed!

If you find yourself in the same place I was – exhausted and depressed – please do not hesitate to seek help from our Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit and the help from Godly others.

“And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate,
who will never leave you.
He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”
JOHN 14:15-17 (NLT)

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Discovering Who I Am, Grief, Healing, Hope, Loss, Trust, Words of Endurance

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ can work through me.
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses,
and in the insults, hardships,
persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I had always been capable of taking care of myself. If there was something I wanted – I went and did it. I felt I didn’t need nor did I ask for anyone else’s help. After my amputation, I continued to live my life in that self-sufficient mode. I immediately thrust myself into helping others when I was the one who needed the help. Fortunately, I was unable to sustain that mode for very long and I eventually burned myself out.

I do believe that God just allowed me to wear myself out at my own game. Eventually, I cried out, “I can’t do it anymore, I can’t!” I had no strength left. I reached the point where I didn’t give a rip; I didn’t care what happened.

But when I was totally at the end of myself – when I had nothing left to give – that’s when it got exciting because that’s when I saw the hand of God come in to provide the help I needed. You could almost hear him say: “Now you have got it. It’s never been you. I just let you run out of steam. Now watch me put your life back together!”

When I was humbled and admitted my weakness that was when I finally began to understand my true need for God. And for the first time in my life, I realized that I had always placed my security in myself rather than God.

Sound familiar? For most of us men, it is easy to think that everything depends on us. We work hard and we are rewarded for it. We get a paycheck that is able to provide us with a home, clothing on our backs, food on the table and necessities for the family. It is easy to feel that we are in control – that our security is in ourselves.

But when that gets pulled out from underneath us we begin to wonder where our security really comes from. And that is where God steps in.

When we are brought to the end of ourselves and admit our weakness – there is release. When we finally realize how weak we truly are and that the power and the responsibility lays in God, not us – when we confess that the battle is the Lord’s, not ours – that releases us, frees us and strengthens us. As Francois Fenelon so rightly says …

“But you need to understand that you cannot become strong
until first you are aware of your weakness.
It is amazing how strong we can become
when we begin to understand what weaklings we are!
It is in weakness that we can admit our mistakes
and correct ourselves while confessing them.
It is in weakness that our minds are open
to enlightenment from others.”

I think if I had not been brought to the point of total weakness I would never have known how much I could trust God and how faithful He is. In admitting my weakness I finally found strength. What joy there was in that discovery!

The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
PSALM 28:7

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Discovering Who I Am, Loss, Pain, Trust, Words of Endurance

I’m not saying that I have this all together,
that I have it made.
But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ,
who has so wondrously reached out for me.
Friends, don’t get me wrong:
By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this,
but I’ve got my eye on the goal,
where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.
I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

After I faced the pain of losing my arm and my identity I knew it was time to press on – time to move onward – time to trust God to build a new identity. There was no turning back.

Prior to my retirement from professional baseball in November of 1989 I had realized that God was doing something in my life that was bigger than baseball. I knew before the cancer in my arm had returned – before my arm had to be amputated – that a major change was coming. I didn’t know what God had in store on the journey but I knew something different lay ahead.

That heartfelt assurance was a strong motivation to move onward through the difficult journey I was on. And I knew the Lord had said and promised …

“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.”

Alan Redpath has observed that “When God wants to do an impossible thing, He takes an impossible man and crushes him.” As I endured the crushing of this impossible man – me – I had the hope and the promise that I could move onward and that God would rebuild what He had crushed because I believed the words of the Apostle Paul …

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind
that the God who started this great work in you
would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish
on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

Be encouraged and know that as we bring our brokenness before God that we can trust that God will rebuild us – put us back together. As He did for me – as He did for King David – I close with King David’s words …

God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Discovering Who I Am, Healing, Loss, Pain, Trust, Words of Endurance

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
… a time to mourn …

When I look back on my life – discovering who I am has been an ever-evolving journey for me. I believe that I am not alone – in fact, I know that while we may be on different paths and experience different life changing events – many of us find ourselves on the same quest.

It is my desire over the next several weeks for me to share this journey of mine. I have evolved from a son and a brother to a husband and father. And I have been a student and an athlete – first an amateur and then a professional. I have loved, accepted and transitioned with every new identity. (Well maybe not the student identity so much!) But my first major identity crisis – asking God who am I now – came when I lost my arm to cancer.

Battling cancer is hard enough but for many survivors – and I am one – cancer leaves us with an even tougher battle to fight. That battle has to do with our identity. When the storm of cancer sweeps into our lives the landscape can change dramatically. Everything familiar may be wiped away or changed beyond recognition. We may have lost the relationships, skills, and resources that have been an essential part of who we are and have given us a sense of joy and purpose in living. So some of us journey out of cancer as very different people.

When I lost my arm – I lost my career, my position and my sense of identity. All I had ever done career wise was play baseball. Who was I if I was not a pro baseball player? It was a long, painful and difficult journey to identify the real Dave Dravecky.

But for me the journey did not begin right away. Part of the reason was because I did not take the time to mourn the loss of my arm – that would have been the emotionally healthy step to take. But oh no – not me! Instead, I had a cavalier attitude about it. Before the amputation, I jokingly waved my left arm in the air – pretending that it was saying goodbye. After the amputation, I thrust myself into travel and speaking to prove that I could overcome this loss.

The truth was I did not want to face the pain and the reality of the loss and the fact that I was a changed person. The questions of who I was and where do I go from here – could not be held at bay any longer. Jan continued to say to me …

The only way to heal from the pain of losses suffered
is to go through the pain.
There is no way around it.
You can stuff it – you can dodge it.
But eventually, you will have to face it.

When I started to take the first step by asking those questions instead of ignoring them, I was surprised to discover that so much of my identity was wrapped up in that arm and what it was capable of doing. My arm had brought me joy, worth, status and had provided a wonderful lifestyle. I had lost all of these when I lost my arm. Until I came face to face with the personal losses that came with the physical loss of my arm – I was awash in a storm of denial and depression.

If I have learned anything through the loss of my arm it is that ignoring the loss and not taking the time to mourn that loss was a huge boulder on my path to discovering who I truly was. So step one for me was to remove that boulder by honestly facing my pain and loss and then moving on with God.

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest …

“Beware of harking back to what you once were when God wants you to be something you’ve never been.”

If we allow God to work through our losses He will always teach us something that will bring us closer to Him and make us more like Him. And that is anything but loss. It is incredible how much we gain through our losses.

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky