Hope, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

And I will give you treasures
hidden in the darkness – secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel,
the one who calls you by name.

The most precious treasure Dave and I found during our time of darkness was the discovery that God was real and present in our darkness. We were so glad to discover that God’s presence was not dependent upon our feelings of His presence!

The amazing thing about that discovery is that if you had asked me during that time if I felt God’s presence, I would have said, “Absolutely not!” During those terrible dark days I would have told you that God was nowhere to be found – I could not feel His presence in any way, shape or form. And yet, at no other time in my life has He spoken to me more clearly or given me more reason to trust Him because He was and is faithful!

Although we tend to think that suffering will cause us to turn away from God, the truth is it often causes us to realize how very much we need Him.  When I became utterly desperate I finally entrusted myself to God.  I gave up trying to control my life and circumstances because it became obvious that I could not.

I did not choose that path because I had a great revelation or exercised a great step of faith.  I chose it because I was too weak and too exhausted to do anything but cling to the hope that God would hold true to His promises.

And God was faithful. In that darkness my relationship with Him grew to become the ultimate treasure! Now when I face adversity, I have the treasure of knowing – in a way I never knew before – that God is real and that I trust Him completely.

It is important that we pay attention to what we are learning in the darkness because the darkness is where our relationship with Him is tested. The darkness is where we learn and experience the Truth that God will be faithful.


God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great is your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.


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)


Anger, Depression, Hope, Pain, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

Treasure is not something
I expected to find
in the darkness.
All I wanted was to find a way out!

When Dave and I first began to experience the injuries and illness that eventually led to the amputation of his left arm, I thought God would miraculously deliver us. I expected us to emerge in a few months as victorious examples of what God could do for those who followed Him. I never imagined our journey through that dark valley of suffering would last for years.

As the weeks stretched into months and then year, I became consumed by our suffering. I tried harder and harder to get back to our “normal” life but I was powerless to change our situation or to understand what God was doing. As I became weaker and more exhausted from trying to fix everything by my own efforts I became increasingly desperate for relief.

I certainly wasn’t looking for any treasures from God. Deep inside I was fighting God and felt completely shut off from Him. When people suggested that God might be doing something wonderful in our lives I got angry. I knew only that I was drowning and I wanted out!

But in spite of my bad attitude – in spite of me doing things my way – in spite of my overwhelming depression – God was still at work within me. There were indeed treasures in the darkness and He would be faithful to give them to me.

About one year after Dave’s comeback I was in the deepest throes of my depression from my perspective everything was very, very black. I couldn’t make myself do anything, go anywhere or see anyone. The three people I had depended upon most for support were Dave and my parents but Dave was undergoing radiation treatments and nothing left to give and both of my parents had died. Dave’s parents were doing all they could to help us but inside I was losing the battle. I felt totally helpless, hopeless and alone.

That is when I discovered the first unexpected treasure God had for me. And I wasn’t even looking for it! In fact, I was ready to give up everything walk away from God. But when I tried to walk away, I couldn’t. Almost to my surprise I realized there was nowhere else I wanted to go. I was just like Peter who when Jesus asked His twelve disciples if they would desert Him and …

Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go?
You have the words of real life, eternal life.
We’ve already committed ourselves,
Confident that you are the Holy One of God.”

When I realized that I truly believed those words I was thrilled! My faith was real! What a treasure!. Even when I was at the end of my rope and ready to run away I couldn’t do it Because I truly believe that God is the Only Way to eternal life and there is no hope apart from Him. Learning that my faith was real brought me great joy and gave me hope when nothing else could. That treasure was the turning point in my experience of suffering.

Although I had not realized it suffering had tested, refined and strengthened my faith. I discovered as 1 Peter 1:3-7 says that faith is far more valuable gold. That discovery renewed my hope and inspired me to search the Scriptures to learn His promises. The hope those Truths of Scripture brought to me became my greatest treasure in the darkness – my lifeline – in the midst of pain. I was still in the valley of suffering but I had learned there were rich treasures there also.

What a God we have!
And how fortunate we are to have him,
This Father of our Master Jesus!
Because Jesus was raised from the dead,
We’ve been given a brand-new life
and have everything to live for,
including a future in heaven –
and the future starts now!
God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.
The Day is coming when you’ll have it all –
life healed and whole.
I know how great this makes you feel,
even though you have to put up with
every kind of aggravation in the meantime.
Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure;
genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.
When Jesus wraps this all up,
it’s your faith, not your gold,
that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.



Hope, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

“I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel,
who summons you by name.”

On that shocking day in Montreal when my left arm snapped in mid pitch and I tumbled to the ground in a crumpled heap of pain, I felt a surprising sense of peace and inner calm. From one perspective that day was a tragic setback to to the months of intense rehab and training I endured to make my “impossible” comeback to Major League Baseball. Yet strange as it may seem I didn’t feel a sense of loss at that time.

Although I nearly passed out from the pain – I had a sense that God wasn’t finished with me yet. Despite the uncertainty my new injury raised, I knew without a doubt that God was beginning a whole new chapter in my life. I had no explanation as to why – I had no specific knowledge of His purpose – But I knew that something much bigger than baseball was about to unfold.

The path I was destined to walk was no picnic. I never could have imagined the darkness of the valley that path would take me through. For two years I faced periods of pain and crushing disappointment as the tumor returned and my arm refused to heal. During that time Jan suffered from exhaustion and depression. After my arm was amputated I sank into depression as well.

The darkness of those days affected every part of our lives. The pain, sadness, confusion and the seeming endlessness of our struggle overwhelmed us. But just as Isaiah 45:3 promises, Jan and I found treasures in that endless darkness. We found riches that are now priceless in the secret places of our suffering.

Like markers on a trail those treasures gave us hope and the courage to endure. They pointed – indeed led us – to God Himself and helped prepare us for the new chapter of our lives.

Our prayer is that through these upcoming Words of Endurance you will be encouraged to discover your own treasures in your darkness so that you, too, will be drawn closer to God.

“When it is dark enough,
men see the stars.”


On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Hope, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

Prayers offered for those who suffer are a bit like lighting a candle in the dark. Even the smallest flicker of light can push back the darkness to yield treasures of hope and joy. Unfortunately, we often don’t know how to pray for friends and loved ones – or even ourselves – when we face suffering, but the Word of God gives us abundant instruction and insight. Here are just a few examples.

Strength to Endure: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether itis with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need” (Philippians 4:12-13 NLT).

Wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

Discernment: “Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works” (Colossians 1:9 THE MESSAGE).

Support and Encouragement: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who has no one to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

A Trusting Heart: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Hope in God’s Love: “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t…nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).

Greater Intimacy with God: “I keep asking that the…Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father; may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17).

Lord, I want to come to you with open hands, but my heart keeps crying out for life the way I knew it. So I’m afraid I have come to you with my fists tightly clenched, holding in the emptiness. Help me to loosen my grip on what was, and bow before your goodness and your faithfulness. Help me to trust that the meaning in the yesterdays of my life will surely be surpassed by the meaning in my tomorrows because you are the source of all meaning. And with you, the best is always yet to be.
Verdell Davis


Pain, Perseverance, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

Sometimes treasure comes to us unbidden, surprising us in the shadows of darkness. At other times, we find it because we seek it.

During her cancer battle, Barbara made a practice of seeking treasure. Every night when she put her head to the pillow, she searched for the treasures of that day. Some of her favorites were the prayers of the children with whom she worked and the acts of love and kindness she received from family and friends. She considered her nightly ritual, which she called “treasure hunting,” to be a necessary exercise in sanity.

Barbara is just one of many seasoned treasure hunters who has gleaned gems of hope as they have wandered through the shadowlands. The treasures they find come in many different forms. Perhaps the following highlights of treasures they have discovered will inspire you to look for the treasures that cross your path.

The Treasures of Perseverance, Endurance, and Patience

Megan was cruising the fast lane of life when cancer slammed on the brakes. Rarely able to leave her house, she found herself locked in a holding pattern while the world sped by, but she didn’t complain about her confinement. Instead, she was amazed by all of the new things God was showing her in the slow lane. She had discovered the comforting sound of rain on a windowpane and had gained insight and comfort from hours spent reading the Scriptures. Her suffering enabled Megan to discover what she had been too busy to notice and began to infuse her life with the characteristics of perseverance, endurance, and patience.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James 1:2-3

The Treasure of Joy

One day, after emerging from her journey through clinical depression, Jan Dravecky sat at her dining room table sipping a cup of tea and gazing out at the mountains. As she watched, she noticed the pine trees swaying in the breeze and the bright flowers blooming on the deck. Suddenly she “had a sense that I had experienced this day before. Then is dawn on me. This day reminded me of the day I was sitting at my dining room table several years before, in the depths of depression, the day when the Lord told me to let go, the day He promised He would show me a joy I’d never known. As I recalled that promise, I realized that the joy God had promised me had become part of my everyday life, a joy that comforts the soul.”

Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5 (NLT)

The Treasure of Fruitfulness

Dave Dravecky would rather be where he is today than where he was before cancer. “During and shortly after my battle with cancer I couldn’t have said that honestly; the good hadn’t yet come out of the bad. Now I can say that cancer has been a blessing in my life…I do not say this lightly or boastfully – I say this as one who has been humbled by pain and uncertainty – I would not be the man I am today if I had not been forced to fight cancer. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I have grown in ways I never dreamed possible.

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 12:11

The Treasure of Stronger Faith

During the years Sally DeRue and her husband, Wayne, lived in the darkness of his life-threatening cancer, Sally saw their faith grow richer and deeper. “It isn’t that we had strayed away from God, but we kind of took Him for granted. Instead of coming to God just on Sundays, we learned we needed Him everyday, not just once a week.”

These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.
1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)

The Treasure of Hope

Jone Eareckson Tada’s suffering as a quadriplegic has turned her eyes toward a hope that cannot disappoint. “Broken homes and broken hearts crush our illusions that earth can keep its promises, that it can really satisfy. Only the hope of heaven can truly move our passions off this world – which God knows could never fulfill us anyway – and place them where they will find their glorious fulfillment.”

But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:3-5


Healing, Hope, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

Michelle Dacus had confidence that God was with her and was working in her life, but making it through each day of her recovery from major reconstructive surgery was a struggle – to put it mildly. Her doctors had no idea how long her debilitating leg pain would last. They couldn’t even promise that it would get better. As a formerly active and energetic 18-year-old, she simply could not imagine a life of constant pain, around the clock medical care, and never being able to walk again.

As she faced the harsh reality of her situation, Michelle remembers asking the Lord what possible purpose her pain could serve. When she received no discernable answer, she resigned herself to trusting God no matter what. She remembers praying, “Lord, I’m going to have to trust you because if I get angry, my spirit will be worse; I’ll be empty. I’m choosing to trust You to work in my life even when I have no clue as to what You’re doing.”

Then the darkness completely overwhelmed her. Michelle was hospitalized with a life-threatening infection. For seven days she batted a 106-degree fever. She was packed on ice and put on powerful medications. “Being in the hospital again was my low point,” Michelle explains. “I just had a sick feeling of ‘Lord, where is this going?'”

When her fever broke, Michelle went home, but in her heart she was ready to go home to heaven. “I said to the Lord, ‘I just give up. I surrender. I am ready just to be with You.’ I remember praying, ‘just take me home.’ I felt that if I woke up in the morning and was still on earth, I would be disappointed.”

The next morning, Michelle woke up – in her bedroom. But something was different. She actually noticed the rose her father had placed on her nightstand, something he had done many times during her illness. “Up to that point, the flowers seemed like just another reminder of my sickness. But I smelled this rose, and it smelled good. I felt as if the Lord was saying to me that this was a turning point, a new beginning. That morning I knew in my heart that God had chosen to keep me going.”

Slowly, Michelle began to heal. When she was strong enough to read the Bible for herself, she remembered a card that her Sunday school teacher had given her before the surgery. Curious, she looked up the Isaiah 45:3 Scripture reference written inside. “As I read it, I just started weeping. It was as if I could hear the Lord speaking directly to me, ‘I will give you the treasure of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by name.’ When I read it, my heart was restored. It was as if the light came on.” That very morning she began recording in her journal all of the riches and treasures God had given her in the darkness.

When she was finally strong enough to go to church for the first time, Michelle received even more treasures from the hand of God. “I walked down the aisle with my walker and every family in our church was clapping. Then, as I was looking at the bulletin, I saw that we were going to sing my favorite hymn, ‘It Is Well With My Soul.’ I just cried. It was such a gift to stand with my walker and sing to God:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul

“Being able to worship him at that time affirmed everything. I had known of God’s faithfulness in my head, but that morning I discovered I could sing that hymn from my heart.”

Today Michelle carried in her journal a written testimony of God’s faithfulness during her illness, and she carries those treasures in her heart as well. “The greatest treasures God gave me in the darkness aren’t tangible,” she explains. “I can look at my body and see that God healed it, but the treasures in my heart aren’t visible. I want everyone who goes through the darkness to know that they can receive these treasures too.

“Being in the darkness gives us a special opportunity to find a place of contentment with the Lord – even when everything in life is upside down. Often we can’t see the treasures when we’re in the midst of the darkness. I know I didn’t. But, if we can endure through Christ’s strength, He’ll give us a treasure that will outlast the riches of the wealthiest man on earth. The riches of earth will perish. We cannot take them with us. But the treasures gleaned in the darkness of suffering are eternal. I’ll take those treasures with me for the rest of my life – and into eternity.”


Cancer, Pain, Treasures in the Darkness, Trust, Words of Endurance

An outgoing and gregarious teenager, Michelle Dacus was president of her school’s Christian Club and active in her church. She looked forward to graduating from high school and heading off to college where she planned to prepare for a future in social work. But just weeks before graduation, excruciating kidney pain sent her to the emergency room. For the next six months, Michelle’s life was dictated by trips to the ER, catheters, and kidney infections.

This was not Michelle’s first encounter with pain and suffering. When she was just eighteen months old, she had an advanced, life-threatening cancer that engulfed several of her internal organs. For four years, doctors tried to arrest the cancer without harming those organs. It was a delicate balancing act, and much of her treatment was experimental. Doctors told her parents that she probably wouldn’t survive. Yet Michelle survived those difficult years and credits her recovery to “the doctor’s wisdom and the Lord having a plan for my life.”

More than a decade later, however, Michelle’s life was again threatened, this time as a result of the experimental treatments that once had saved it. She needed major surgery to rebuild and repair several damaged organs. Surgery was scheduled for the winter break of her freshman year in college.

Although Michelle did not know how long or difficult her recovery might be, she remembers the drive to the hospital. “I was at peace and ready to get everything taken care of. I knew God was going to come through and be faithful once again.”

After surgery, she remembers seeing her mom’s tears of relief. And she can never forget the pain. “It was as if I had lightning bolts running through my legs. It hurt so much I didn’t want to move a muscle.” The surgery had stretch the nerves in both of Michelle’s legs, leaving her nearly paralyzed and in constant pain. “It was the most severe pain in my entire life,” she says. “I would just lie there, crying. My mom would rub my legs day and night trying to soothe the pain.”

The darkness continued closing in. Instead of returning to college after Christmas break, Michelle returned to her bedroom. For the next three months, she lived in pajamas, unable to walk. She was on such strong pain medication that she was barely able to eat. Her weight dropped to 86 pounds. “I was completely helpless. My Mom had to do everything – even brush my teeth. I had a walker in my room, and with my Mom’s help I would practice standing up and leaning on the walk. It took every ounce of every I had just to do that. There I was, a lively 18-year-old who was supposed to be in college and I could barely get out of bed. I just couldn’t believe how far down I’d gone.”

Like many others who have walked a similar path through suffering, Michelle desperately wanted to feel God’s presence during those dark months. She wanted to focus on God’s Word, but she was too weak even to hold her Bible. She was in too much pain to read. “That was such a hard time mentally and emotionally. I knew God was doing something, but I didn’t know what and I couldn’t feel His presence. But I knew He was there and working.”

God knew exactly what He was doing. Years before, He had prepared a treasure for Michelle that would help her through the overwhelming darkness. Michelle’s only memory of her battle with childhood cancer is a brief moment in a hospital isolation room. “I was only two or three years old, and I remember being alone in a very quiet room. I could see my parents on the other side of the glass and I wanted to be with them. I put both of my hands on the glass and looked at my mom on the other side. She put her hands on the glass opposite mine and whispered, ‘I love you.'”

Michelle considers the memory of her mom whispering to her through the glass to be a gift from God. “God might have given me that memory because that’s how He is. He’s right there, on the other side of the glass. Even though we can’t feel or touch Him, He is there.” Just as she saw her mother on the other side of the glass so many years before, Michelle sensed God whispering to her, “I’m here with you, and I see your suffering. This is in my hands. It will not last forever.”

That image was a priceless treasure that gave Michelle hope. “My natural tendency was to lie in bed and never get out. But the image I had of God saying, ‘Push through, this isn’t going to last forever,’ gave me hope. I knew that God was with me, so I knew that the pain was either going to end or I was going to go home with Jesus.” That treasure gave her a glimmer of hope that no darkness could overcome.

Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.
1 Corinthians 13:12(NCV)