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.

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.

(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, Perseverance

This is why I remind you to fan into flames
the Spiritual gift God gave you …
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 TIMOTHY 1:6-7 (NLT)

Our Pastor, Kyle Fox, has been teaching a series on the Holy Spirit. I have been amazed how his teaching has paralleled my own personal transformation process. His teachings confirmed that I am on the right path to a “Heart Transformation.”

After each teaching, he challenged us to practice a different Spiritual Discipline to “Fan into Flames” the Holy Spirit within every believer. He encouraged us to daily surrender to God, confess our sins, study God’s Word, pray continually, dwell on the goodness of God, practice submission to one another, serve one another, sacrifice for one another and engage in the discipline of giving.

But in last week’s sermon, he gave us a warning if we want to fan into flames the Holy Spirit, we must avoid the slow fade. We must fight the slide toward appeasement (with worldly desires) and too much self-focus (fleshly desires). We must fight the slide toward convenience (taking the easy path), isolation (withdrawal) and bitterness (unresolved anger). It reminded me of the chorus in the song, Slow Fade by Casting Crowns.

It’s a slow fade
When you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade
When black and white have turned to grey
And thoughts invade, choices made
A price will be paid
when you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

I know for myself personally, I had been on a slow fade for way too many years. It was all due to unresolved anger which led to poor choices, which led to withdrawal from family and friends. The price I paid (and my family) was monumental until I turned and surrendered to the Holy Spirit. When I took that first step of surrender, I had no idea where or how He would lead me, heal me, but I trusted Him to transform my heart. I am still in the process but I know that “He who began a good work in me, will see it to the day completion” Philippians 1:6.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit
who lives within us,
carefully guard the precious truth that
has been entrusted to you.
2 TIMOTHY 1:14 (NLT)

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Perseverance

Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing
of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial,
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life
that God has promised
to those who love him.
JAMES 1:2-4, 12 (NIV)

A trial is not just an assault to be withstood, it is an opportunity to be seized. And these verses in James are intended to inspire, showing us that trials are opportunities to prove our love and enhance our faith. With this perspective, life becomes inspiring – not in spite of the trials but because of them.

The soldier who is called to the front lines is stimulated at the chance to prove his skills. The officer who is given a position of higher responsibility is roused by the rugged demands of his task. You and I are soldiers in the same way.

If you are tempted to slack off from praying but instead you remain faithful, your faith develops perseverance. If you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself, but instead start thinking of the needs of others, your character becomes refined. The result? An improved you with greater faith and a closer walk with the Savior.

And this is where the joy comes in!


We can rejoice, too,
when we face problems and trials,
for we know they help us develop endurance.
And endurance helps us develop 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, Healing, Hope, Perseverance, Words of Endurance

“… and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Running with perseverance sounds easy: put one foot in front of the other and keep going. But how do you keep going when the journey gets difficult?

I know myself as an athlete – as a starting pitcher – my ultimate desire was to throw a nine-inning complete game. In order to persevere through nine innings, I put myself through intense endurance training. There were many days, weeks, and months of preparation to strengthen and build my body to a point where it could endure.

Then on game day, my pregame meal was so important because I needed to consume the right combination of carbohydrates and protein that my body would need for an optimal performance. In order for me to endure, I needed to consume the right fuel.

On a much larger scale for me, running with perseverance through the journey of suffering required the same preparation and consumption of the right fuel in order for me to endure emotionally and spiritually. My fuel? The Word of God.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,
so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

The Scriptures supply the fuel for endurance through life. The Word of God is more than ink on paper. God speaks to us, changes us, and encourages us through it.

For the word of God is living and active.

As a young Christian, I was under the teaching of wonderful pastors in Southern California who taught the Word of God. In those early years, I hungered for and devoured God’s Word. I had no idea how the consumption of God’s Word would prepare and strengthen me for what was to come on my life journey. I know I would not have been able to endure without it.

The Word of God – Don’t journey through life without it!

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
PSALM 119:92

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Anger, Doubt, Endurance for the Journey, Fear, Grace, Love, Next Steps, Perseverance, Words of Endurance

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 4:15-56

I have always had high expectations of myself – never wanting to fail – always wanting to be strong – never weak – earning my success in the game of baseball and in my everyday life.

All that changed when cancer entered my life. Oh, I was strong and performed well at the beginning of my journey of suffering. But as the journey took me into the wilderness and the days became long and endless, I experienced a weakness of my being that I had never felt before.

I had a fear of death – I doubted – then felt shame for my lack of faith. I experienced frustration over my weakness and my failure to overcome. This resulted in anger – rage-filled fits – then extreme guilt over my sin. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, my inclination was to run from God and hide.

BUT … running and hiding from God was not the answer– in order to endure, I needed to run to Him and receive His grace even though I felt I had not earned or deserved it.

But God loves who we really are – whether we like it or not.
God calls us, as He did Adam, to come out of hiding.
“Come to me now,” Jesus says.
“Acknowledge and accept who I want to be for you:
a Savior of boundless compassion, infinite patience,
unbearable forgiveness, and love that keeps no score of wrongs.
Quit projecting onto me your own feelings about yourself.
At this moment your life is a bruised reed and I will not crush it,
a smoldering wick and I will not quench it.
You are in a safe place.

God’s grace is an incredible source of fuel for endurance. It encourages us to keep going even when we stumble because we know He understands and knows our weaknesses – yet He still loves us. HE LOVES US EVEN ON OUR WORST DAY!!! This was a huge source of fuel for me to continue walking on my journey with Him knowing …

“If we have only the will to walk, then God is pleased with my stumbles.”

Sometimes we are so sick and tired of stumbling that we don’t want to walk anymore. What a blessing it is to realize that all we need to have is the will to walk with Him, and God is pleased with us – even when we stumble. That’s an incredible expression of grace. That is a tremendous motivation to endure.

The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
PSALM 37:23-24

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Endurance for the Journey, Healing, Hope, Perseverance, Words of Endurance

Endurance is what pushes the athlete to achieve the next level. It’s what keeps the explorer trudging upward over the next mountain range. And endurance is what enables those who are suffering to face another setback, to take one more painful step forward and to do so without losing heart.

From a very early age, I had a deep, inner drive to succeed, to conquer whatever challenge came my way. It was as if the passion to endure was woven through the very fiber of my being. Enduring the process of intense competition was part of who I was. It was second nature to me. This drive served me well on the road to becoming a professional athlete.

It also served me well when I was first diagnosed with cancer and was told that outside of a miracle I would never pitch again. When I started rehab, I didn’t know how much I would have to endure in order to get to a place where I could even stand on the mound and throw a baseball, much less pitch at the Major League level. But I loved the challenge of the process and taking on that physical challenge came very natural to me.

After my comeback, the cancer returned. There were more surgeries, radiation, a relentless staph infection and amputation – physically I was weaker than I had ever been with barely the strength to take one more painful step forward – I could not believe it – there was no personal drive left.

What surprised me even more was that because of the physical affliction I became weak emotionally and spiritually – along with the physical pain I also experienced a deep depression and a dark night of the soul.

Unfortunately, when you are facing physical affliction, your physical being is not the only part that is challenged. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings and all are interdependent. It is impossible to have one part of our being impacted without the impact being felt by all three parts.

I was at the weakest point I had ever been … physically, emotionally and spiritually. I turned my eyes upon Jesus … the only step I had the strength to take.

My eyes are always looking to the LORD for help.
PSALM 25:15 (NCV)

DEAR FRIENDS, do not become weary and give up on your journey. Take that first step forward and keep your eyes on Jesus – who did endure the cross – who knows our pain – is seated beside the Father’s throne and intercedes for you and me.

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


Perseverance, Purpose in Suffering?, The Search for Answers, Trust, Words of Endurance

Endure hardship as discipline;
God is treating you as his children.
For what children are not disciplined by their father?
If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—
then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.
How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!
They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best;
but God disciplines us for our good,
in order that we may share in his holiness.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace
for those who have been trained by it.
HEBREWS 12:7-11 (NIV)

I was home alone. It was the day before Dave and I were leaving for Sloan Kettering in New York where he was to have his left arm amputated.

They had announced via the national media that Dave was going to have the amputation and now our phone was ringing off the hook. People from all over the country were calling to tell Dave not to have the amputation –they told us to have more faith – they shared that God does not intend for us to suffer.

Still, in the throes of a dark depression and a mind that felt like a rusty computer, I can remember hanging up the phone for the tenth time that day and feeling nothing but confusion. I grabbed my Bible and threw myself on the floor in our family room.

I cried out to God and I pleaded, “If you don’t intend for us to suffer then why are we suffering? Father, it can’t be this hard. Please take away the confusion and show me Your Truth.”

I had placed the Bible before me on the floor and as I opened my tear filled eyes the Bible had opened up to Hebrews 12 and my blurred vision then focused clearly on verse 7 “Endure all hardship as discipline; for God is treating you as his children…”

As discipline. It didn’t say hardship was discipline. It didn’t say God was bending us over the bed and beating our backsides to get us to straighten up. It said to endure hardship the same way you would endure your parents’ discipline. And how do we do that? By submitting to it, enduring it and learning from it.

I skimmed through the passage and stopped at verse 11: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Peace, That is what I needed. That is what I so desperately longed for. I realized then that peace would come but that it would come later, as the fruit of my struggle, as the harvest of a long growing season. What I needed until that harvest was a farmer’s patience.

I also needed to trust the love of my heavenly Father and know He was there in the midst of our pain and confusion. He was leading and teaching us for our good so that we may share in His holiness and the result was a peace that surpassed all understanding.

Be assured that God is in the midst of your pain and you can trust Him to guide and lead you through any valley. As you submit, endure and learn from it there will be a harvest of righteousness and peace for you –

God disciplines and teaches us because He loves us.

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
ISAIAH 30:20-21 (NLT)

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Anger, Perseverance, Relationships, Words of Endurance

by Jan Dravecky

When Dave was pitching for the San Francisco Giants, we had a good life. We had a good marriage, two great kids, and a growing relationship with God. We had good friends and some close relationships, but baseball life had moved us around enough that we found it difficult to maintain close relationships. We had each other. What more could we need?

We approached Dave’s cancer, with all its career – and life-changing implications, in much the same way we handled anything else – thinking that our relationship with each other was all we needed to get through it. After all, our culture teaches us that the one person you can trust, the one person you can lean on, is yourself and that each of us has everything we need within ourselves. So the fact that Dave and I also had each other seemed to be more than enough. We were in for a surprise.

As Dave’s cancer progressed, we found ourselves in a predicament. Dave was too sick to be a support to me, and when I became depressed, I was unable to be a support to him. We reached a point at which we no longer had each other for emotional support. By the time we had moved away from our baseball friends, and we had no close friends on whom we could lean. Plus, because we were so accustomed to depending on ourselves, we didn’t know how to need and depend on other people. We were surprised to discover how important it is to be able to count on the support that comes through close relationships with other people during an extended time of suffering.

When I lost Dave’s emotional support, I didn’t know what to do. I was dying inside because I didn’t have anyone else in my life on whom I would lean. The one person I had needed most in my life was my mother, and when she died so suddenly, a part of me decided to never need anyone that much again. So I stood alone.

My fear of loss in close relationships didn’t change the fact that I was human and that I needed those relationships, however. The line from the song Barbara Streisand made famous, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” is very true. God created us with the need for close relationships, and He has provided other people to meet that need. In Genesis 2:18, we read that God considered Adam and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” That simple sentence helped me realize that we are made to need other people and that we will suffer if we don’t have those relationships.

When you are suffering, every relationship you have is tested.

We no only need relationships with other people, we also need to have healthy relationships. It wasn’t enough for me to know that I needed close relationships in my life and to seek them out. I also needed to learn what makes those relationships healthy. When you go through a period of suffering, it is especially important to have and maintain healthy relationships. It is also more challenging to do so because when you are suffering, every relationship you have is tested.

Relationships have to endure through the many changes that suffering brings. In our case, we went from one extreme to another. When we realized that we needed other close relationships, that we needed other people involved in our lives, we discovered that we had friends who would stand by us. They stepped in and let us lean on them. That was wonderful, but we leaned on them too much. We encouraged them to take responsibility for areas of our lives and to make decisions for which we needed to take responsibility. They became used to running our lives, and when we were well enough to once again take responsibility for those areas, they were hurt. By resuming our responsibilities, we appeared to be rejecting them and their care for us, which was not the case at all. We simply needed to take back responsibilities that were rightfully ours. It took time for the changes in those relationships to be accepted and for the hurt to heal.

An added trial for relationships that endure through suffering is that all the imperfections in the relationship become exaggerated. For example, you may have been in a relationship in which one particular thing irritated you. For years you may have consciously overlooked that one thing. But after dealing with suffering for a period of time, your patience runs out. You’re tired, you’ve given all you have to give, and that one little thing you have ignored for years comes up. And suddenly you can’t handle it. You become angry, you burst into tears, you criticize – whatever. The presence of another’s imperfection brings your imperfection bubbling to the surface!

Clashing imperfections can lead to a relational meltdown, but they don’t have to. Within healthy relationships, there is a recognition that each one of us is imperfect. Healthy relationships are seasoned with grace. Grace accepts a person for who he or she is inside regardless of the behavior that surfaces when the person is under stress. Grace realizes that suffering brings out the worst in a person and loves the person in spite of it. Grace realizes that the person is probably just as horrified about his or her imperfect behavior as you are.

When Dave was battling cancer, he was at times very angry. I remember thinking, Oh, he doesn’t want to be this way. I knew who Dave really was. I knew that the “good stuff” was still there. Grace remembers that despite the ugly stuff that comes to the surface, the good stuff is still there. I have that grace for Dave, and he has that grace for me. So our relationship endures. It’s not conditional.

Conditional love, whether it is in a marriage, a friendship, or another family relationship, will be challenged by suffering. Unconditional love endures because it accepts and loves no matter what. This does not mean that a person becomes a doormat. Appropriate boundaries and respect are essential in a healthy relationship.

It’s no secret that relationships suffer when we suffer. Unhealthy relationships can be especially tumultuous. Despite the challenges we encounter, relationships remain extremely important. Relationships help us endure trials that would otherwise cause us to fall. But it’s important to walk in grace and forgiveness so that those relationships can be what God intends them to be. If we persevere, we will find that our relationships will mature and become some of the most precious blessings in this life – and in the life to come.


Hope, Perseverance, Purpose in Suffering?, The Search for Answers, Trust, Words of Endurance

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.
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son,
so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
ROMANS 8:28-29 (NLT)

Probably one of the most quoted scripture shared with those who suffer is “… God causes everything to work together for the good …”. While Dave and I were in the midst of our pain and we would hear these words, we would think, “What good can come out of cancer, loss of arm and career, depression and the loss of loved ones?”

As we looked to the Scripture for answers we noticed that verse 28 is often quoted alone without verse 29. Verse 29 is important because it qualifies verse 28 and answered our question: The good that comes from our suffering is so that we may “… become like his Son …”.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. PHILIPPIANS 1:6 (NLT)

Please know that while we were in the midst of our trials we were not aware of the good work that was being done within us. But now that we are on the other side of our valley we cannot deny the good that has come out of our suffering. (Remember that hindsight is 20/20!)

  • We learned God’s Word. It was and still is our lifeline. PSALM 119:71

  • We learned that God could be trusted in the midst of our trials even when we did not understand.

  • He directed our path. We know we can trust Him in every trial. PROVERBS 3:5-6

  • We learned that God’s presence was not dependent upon our feelings. HEBREWS 13:5

  • We learned to persevere in the midst of suffering and our character matured – molded and shaped by the affliction. JAMES 1:2-4

  • Our faith was refined and our convictions were strengthened. 1 PETER 1:7

  • The ministry, Endurance, was birthed. We answered the call to comfort others as we ourselves were comforted by God. 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-5

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.
He brought me to this position
so I could save the lives of many people.
(Words of Joseph, son of Jacob, spoken to his brothers who sold him into slavery years before.)

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Anger, Depression, Grief, In Your Darkness, Perseverance, Trust, Words of Endurance

I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
PSALM 63:8

I wanted to run away but I couldn’t. I was angry. He had me stuck between a rock and a hard place. There was no other way for me to turn but to Him. I identified with King David when he said,

You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
PSALM 139:5,7

I shook my fist at Him and cried, “Lord, I hate where I am right now and I don’t understand why. I know your Word is the Truth and the Way so I am going to turn to your Word. So watch out Lord – I am going to learn and hold you to the promises you have made to your children in your Word.”

It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
PSALM 119:71

I had no idea what a monumental step this was for me. I memorized and clung to His promises. I hid them in my heart and cried them out to Him in my darkest hours. His promises comforted me and gave me Hope even though at times I feared they would be true for everyone else but me.

My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
PSALM 119:50

What was most awesome was that God was faithful to every one of His promises for me even in the midst of my fear and doubt. Please know those same promises were made for you too. I urge you to cling to His promises and recall His faithfulness as the Prophet Jeremiah did in the midst of his darkness …

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky