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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Relationships

I, John, your brother and
companion in suffering
and kingdom and patient endurance
that are ours in Jesus …
REVELATION 1:9 (NIV)



The Apostle John calls himself “your brother and companion in suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus.” Interesting choice of words!


John knew that shared suffering binds you to your fellow sufferers. Veterans from World War II know this. So do survivors of cancer, a plane crash or the polio epidemic of the 50s. Roommates in a hospital ward feel it.


When you are in the trenches, handing bullets to your buddy and fighting a common enemy, hearts can’t help but be pressed together. Your knowledge of each other is unique and intimate.


And when you share the common bond of knowing Jesus Christ, you are doubly blessed for you are truly “brothers and companions in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance” that are yours in Jesus!


JONI EARECKSON TADA



We are confident that
as you share in our sufferings,
you will also share in the
comfort God gives us.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:7 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Relationships

Dear Friends, let us love one another,
for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God
and knows God.
1 JOHN 4:7 (NIV)



Before I went through my season of suffering, I had friends, but I didn’t understand how important those relationships really were. Sure, I enjoyed my friends. It was nice to have them. But it didn’t seem to me that I needed those relationships. Boy, did that change!


I learned that you cannot get through pain and suffering on your own. You eventually come to the end of yourself, and you need another person there to stand beside you and lift you up. To have a friend who is willing to make the personal sacrifice to be with you so that you are not alone is a powerful thing. When I was struggling, it was really important to know that my close friends were willing to sacrifice for me. Their sacrifice was a demonstration of God’s love for me.



This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love:
Christ sacrificed His love for us.
This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers,
and not just be out for ourselves.
If you see some brother or sister in need
and have the means to do something about it
but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing,
what happens to God’s love?
It disappears. And you made it disappear.
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love;
let’s practice real love.
This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly,
living in God’s reality.
1 JOHN 3:16-18 (THE MESSAGE)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Relationships

Then the Lord God said,
“It is not good that the man be alone.”
GENESIS 2:18



I would like to share what I hope will be some words of encouragement. These are not my words but the words of a pastor I have tremendous respect for. His name is Bryan Loritts. I had the privilege of listening to a message he shared during an interview that I believe will encourage us all.


His message revolved around his response to the racial tensions and fears we are experiencing in our nation right now. However, It is also appropriate for those of us who are walking alongside someone who is suffering.


There are four powerful words he uses to encourage us. We need to first LAMENT, then LISTEN and LEARN, and then respond or receive in LOVE.


LAMENT – Most of us would struggle with understanding how to lament or grieve when faced with difficult news. Especially when we find ourselves hearing the word cancer for the first time. I don’t know if I thought of it being a form of lament when I was first diagnosed, but now looking back, I lamented the news. It grieved me to think that I was about to go on a journey where I could potentially lose my career or maybe even my life.


LISTEN – For the person on the receiving end of bad news listening can be a struggle. And as we all know, trusting the words of that doctor or counselor or deliverer of the difficult news and understanding the plan is critical. That is why, it is so important to have an advocate with you. A loved one who can help you understand – who can listen on your behalf. Also, listening to other’s stories who have walked a similar path – much can be learned.


LEARN – Obviously learning follows what we’ve just heard. We learn through listening to the doctors and counselors and the stories of others. We learn what others have experienced and what we possibly are about to go through. We gain an understanding of the situation that helps us to be emotionally prepared as best we can. And trust me, at least for myself, even with the information it was still very difficult to face what I was about to go through!


LOVE – In the end, as we face whatever trial we are going through, knowing we are loved becomes a powerful part of giving us the courage we will need to face the uncertainty of what lies ahead! Knowing we are not alone on this journey means everything to the one going through it. To love others binds us together on the journey so that no one is alone.


That is why Jan and I consider it a privilege to come alongside the hurting together with all of you. Thank you for making this ministry possible by your prayers and continued faithful support.



Above all, clothe yourselves in love,
which binds us all together in harmony.
COLOSSIANS 3:14 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Relationships

All this comes from the Lord Almighty,
wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.
ISAIAH 28:29 (NIV)



I understand how Christians can be skeptical about the emphasis some people put on using a counselor as a substitute for seeking wisdom from God – the God who is called “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom” – but none of our Christian counselors ever led us away from seeking God’s wisdom. Instead, they shared with us the Godly wisdom they had gained while they taught us to examine our lives to make sure we were living the life God would have us live.


The Bible encourages us to seek out wisdom and search for understanding as one would “search for it as for hidden treasure” (Proverbs 2:4). That’s what we were doing in seeking Godly counsel. Without the understanding we gained, we would not have made the changes that helped us come out of depression.



The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.
PROVERBS 20:5 (NIV)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Relationships

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
ECCLESIASTES 3:1,4 (NLT)



Compassion and open-ended commitment begin with allowing others time to cry. There is a time to cry and grieve, as the Bible says. We cannot expect newly hurt people to dry their tears and listen to our well-rehearsed Bible passages about suffering, hoping they will change overnight.


They need time. Friends who lack real compassion find it difficult to give others time to adjust or accept their pain. Impatiently, they look for immediate results of their prayers and efforts.


So if there are rules on how to be a compassionate friend to a hurting person, the first would be to sincerely carry their emotional baggage. Allow your friend the freedom to express himself. Let him cry. Better yet, cry with him. Joni Eareckson Tada



Love each other with genuine affection,
And take delight in honoring each other.
… and weep with those who weep.
ROMANS 12:10,15 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Relationships

“I have not wronged you,
but you are doing me wrong
by waging war against me.
Let the Lord, the Judge,
decide the dispute this day.”
JUDGES 11:27 (NIV)



Have you noticed? Relationships are complicated! And adversity only complicates them more. Often the pain of strained relationships is more difficult than the physical pain of our suffering.


What do you do after you’ve done everything you can to patch things up – and hostility still radiates from the other party? You’ve forgiven, asked forgiveness for your actions, tried to talk it out, prayed for reconciliation and acted with integrity and in love … but all you get in return is animosity, false accusation and slander. What do you do?


You heed the wise words of Judge Jepthah: “Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute.” You leave the dispute with God and continue to show the love of Christ. Scripture acknowledges that we are to do all we can do within our sphere of responsibility. Having done those things, we can leave all matters in His hands – including our anxieties.



Do all you can to live in peace with everyone.
Dear friends, never take revenge.
Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
Says the Lord.
ROMANS 12:18-19 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Grace, Guilt, Relationships, The Treasure of Relationships, Words of Endurance

The most perfect people in the world have imperfections, and so do we.
And sometimes it is quite difficult for us to tolerate each other.
We are to “bear one another’s burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galations 6:2),
and I think this means, among other things,
that we are to bear the burden of each other’s imperfections.
FENELON



One precious treasure I uncovered was learning not to expect perfection in relationships. No matter how much we long and strive for perfection – we will always fail. We all have strengths and gifts but we also all have weaknesses and warts.

For everyone has sinned;
we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
ROMANS 3:23 (NLT)



So learning to accept people and ourselves – warts and all – is very important. I had been guilty of thinking that if anything went wrong in a relationship it was over. I learned that relationships are a continual work in progress. I learned how to work through the challenges in order to experience the richness of the relationships God had given me.



Another treasure was discovering the power of grace in relationships. Grace is being able to love others and ourselves despite their warts and ours. What could be more precious than the security of knowing that another person loves and accepts you even when he or she sees the ugly part of you! What could be more valuable than to give that love, acceptance and resulting security to another!



There is no doubt that adversity experienced in the valley of suffering tests every one of our relationships. But adversity also has a way of strengthening our relationships by eliminating the trivial, exposing what is false and focusing our attention on the true nature of our relationships. Some relationships will not endure the pressure of adversity but others – even relationships that have been miserable for years – will emerge strengthened and restored. What a priceless treasure!



Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
fasten on to a slight and – good-bye, friend!
PROVERBS 17:9 (THE MESSAGE)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Prayer, Relationships, The Treasure of Relationships, Words of Endurance

Two people are better off than one,
for they can help each other succeed.
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.
But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
ECCLESIASTES 4:9-10 (NLT)



We don’t normally expect to find treasures in the darkness of adversity or riches in the valley of suffering but God gives us rich rewards even in these desolate places. One of the greatest riches God prepares for us in the valley is the discovery of the treasure of relationships. I will never forget the day I first caught a glimpse of this magnificent treasure. It changed my life.



I had become desperately depressed and I was seeing a counselor to help me climb out of the dark pit into which I had fallen. As we talked, the counselor casually asked me if I had any friends.



I immediately answered, “Of course! I have tons of friends!”



He then asked me how many of my friends needed me. I proudly responded, “All of them!”



Then he asked the question that would rock my world, “How many of your friends do you need?”



I pondered his question for what seemed like a long time because I could not believe my answer. I sheepishly admitted, “None of them.” This was a shocking revelation to both of us.



My counselor gently explained that God never intended relationships to be the way I described mine. God never intended relationships to be a one-way street. God made us to love and to be loved. No wonder I was dying on the inside! I had not allowed myself to need anyone.



Afterward our discussion troubled me. I began praying and asking God why I hadn’t allowed myself to need anyone. The answer came to me unexpectedly in the shower one day (I do a lot of talking to God when I am in the shower!). I realized that the one person I had needed the most had been my mother. When she died my pain was so great I decided I would never need anyone again the way that I had needed her. From that point on, I lived to love others but never allowed myself to receive the love from others.



No wonder I was lonely and depressed. I wasn’t bonded to anyone. My relationships needed work.



The realization that I needed healthy relationships in my life was truly a treasure. It caused me to assess all of my relationships. I determined which ones were healthy – which ones were unhealthy. I began making changes to improve the relationships that were unhealthy. I also began to seek out healthy peer relationships – two way street relationships – where I gave but I also received.



I also had realized that I had fallen alone and that was why I found myself in real trouble. I need others – what a revelation – what a treasure!



Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. PROVERBS 27:9 (THE MESSAGE)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Grief, Pain, Prayer, Relationships, The Treasure of Relationships, Words of Endurance

Then the Lord God said,
“It is not good for the man to be alone.”
GENESIS 2:18 (NLT)



It is not good for anyone to do life alone but there was a time in my life when I thought I didn’t really need relationships. Sure I appreciated my family and friends but I had no idea that having healthy relationships was absolutely essential to a healthy life. I didn’t realize God had created us in such a way that we simply cannot live without relationships but my need for close healthy relationship would be enlightened when Dave and I entered our valley of suffering.



I discovered that when we go through times of adversity or suffering our need for others intensifies – and that can be a problem. Why? Because any kind of pain, adversity or suffering will test our relationships.



We aren’t at our best when we hurt. Our weaknesses, flaws and ugliness rise to the surface and the result isn’t pretty. We offend others more easily and we are more easily offended. Under that pressure, relationships can crumble. At the very time we need good relationships the most, those relationships often become more difficult.



The good news is that it is possible to honestly and lovingly work through the relational difficulties that suffering exposes. Relationships can grow and mature to become true treasures under the pressure of suffering. We can emerge from the darkness of suffering with healthier, stronger relationships – I know that from my own personal experience.



My prayer is that in the upcoming Words of Endurance that they will help you see the true value of your relationships and enable you to deal with the inevitable relational challenges one faces in the darkness. I know personally the refining process may be difficult and painful but I also know the rewards of stronger and healthier relationships are absolutely unbelievable and priceless!



Friends love through all kinds of weather,
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
PROVERBS 17:17 (THE MESSAGE)



Praying for all who are seeking the treasure,
Jan Dravecky

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Doubt, Fear, Relationships, Words of Endurance

Receive Support From Others

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough! ECCLESIASTES 4:9-10 (THE MESSAGE)



One of the hardest things for me along my journey was to receive help from others. I wanted to endure on my own – not rely on anyone but myself. Unfortunately, the journey becomes extremely lonely and difficult when we try to go it alone.



God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone …” GENESIS 2:18 (THE MESSAGE)



Being an amputee I need a lot of physical support. Initially I tried to do everything on my own – dress myself – put my luggage in the overhead bin – hang our Christmas lights. Pride got in the way. I did not want to humble myself and ask for help so I would struggle through the task. Eventually I would become frustrated and then angry. It was not a pretty picture.



I have learned through the years though that I do need physical help – though humbling it sure makes life a lot easier. Jan now tucks in my pockets, puts my belt through the loops I cannot reach and ties my shoes. When someone offers to put my luggage in the overhead bin – I gladly accept his or her help. As for the Christmas lights – I no longer hang them!



Along the journey I also have needed emotional support. I needed the listening ear and understanding heart of a trusted family member or friend. I needed a ‘safe person’ to whom I could open my heart – share my fears and doubts – cry with – and not be judged.



Fortunately for me I found that ‘safe person’ in Jan. She has listened to me, cried for me when I could not, just held me when there were no words and loved me when I did not deserve it. But at the same time, I can’t tell you how many times she has given me a swift kick that has challenged me to move forward again.



It is personal interaction such as this – the gentle hug and the swift kick – that helped me take those next steps forward. It can come only from someone tangible – someone you can touch, feel, see and trust. When someone reaches out to me I experience the awesome gift of God’s expression of love towards me.



“Modern research echoes
what the Bible has said for centuries:
people who have intimate connections
in which they are vulnerable and honest
generally live better, function at higher levels,
and heal faster than those
who are isolated or distant from others.
We all need the fuel of love and relationship
to continue growing and healing.”
Dr. John Townsend



When I experienced the dark night of the soul I desperately needed spiritual support. During that time I had no desire to even pick up the Bible to read. That was when Jan would step up and offer to read to me – to encourage me. She became my Bible. I was humbled.



The majority of that time I didn’t feel like praying but that was when my closest friends would come alongside and pray for me. In my darkest moments I often would receive a call or a card from a friend or a group from church saying that they were praying for me. I was so grateful that they stood in the gap for me – this encouraged me to take steps forward.



Let’s see how inventive we can be
in encouraging love and helping out,
not avoiding worshiping together as some do
but spurring each other on,
especially as we see the big Day approaching.
HEBREWS 10:25 (THE MESSAGE)



Remember my friends while there are seasons in our lives for giving – there are also seasons for receiving. As humbling as it may be, learning to receive physical, emotional and spiritual help will lighten your burden and help you to endure the journey.



“Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life.
Many might have failed
beneath the bitterness of their trial
had they not found a friend.”
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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