Grace, Walking Weak & Wounded, Words of Endurance

‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’

After we have tended to our own wounds it is then time to love our neighbor by tending to our neighbors’ wounds. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a wonderful example of neighborly love in action.

The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied with a story:

“A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem
down to Jericho,
and he was attacked by bandits.
They stripped him of his clothes,
beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance a priest came along.
But when he saw the man lying there,
he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.
A Temple assistant walked over and
looked at him lying there,
but he also passed by on the other side.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along,
and when he saw the man,
he felt compassion for him.
Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds
with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.
Then he put the man on his own donkey
and took him to an inn,
where he took care of him.
The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,
telling him, ‘Take care of this man.
If his bill runs higher than this,
I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
LUKE 10:29-37

Henri Nouwen asks and answers the same question …

Who Is My Neighbour?

“Love your neighbour as yourself” the Gospel says. But who is my neighbor?
We often respond to that question by saying:
“My neighbors are all the people I am living with on this earth, especially the sick, the hungry, the dying, and all who are in need.”

But this is not what Jesus says. When Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question: “Who is my neighbor?”
he ends the by asking:
“Which, … do you think, proved himself a neighbor to the man who fell into the bandits’ hands?”
The neighbor, Jesus makes clear, is not the poor man laying on the side of the street, stripped, beaten, and half dead, but the Samaritan who crossed the road, “bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them, … lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him.”

My neighbor is the one who crosses the road for me!

Be a neighbor and love your neighbor by crossing the road and tending to their wounds!

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Healing, Walking Weak & Wounded, Words of Endurance

‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that it was OK for me to love myself first before I even attempted to love others. I always thought that this was so selfish. I remember asking God, “Do you not ask me to love others before myself?” “Do you not ask us to lay down our lives for others?”

But the greater question was what did loving mean? And the answer was that the action of love is caring. I learned that it meant I needed to take care of myself before I should – or even would be capable – of taking care of others. If I did not take care of myself –love myself – tend to my own wounds first – how could I possibly be strong enough or wise enough to love others well and bring to others the comfort and empathy that is needed.

Another step in learning to love myself was allowing myself to receive the love and care from others – from God. This was very difficult for me – it was much more difficult to receive rather than to give. But I learned that in order to love others – I needed to receive and experience that love – the caring and comfort – first.

Tending Our Own Wounds First

Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift for others, especially when we have received good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.

When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded brothers and sisters.

The tending of our own wounds first – our healing – opens the door to our wounded brothers’ and sisters’ hearts so that we can pass on the love and comfort that we received from God and others. Remember to take care of first things first and that means you!

He comforts us in all our troubles
so that we can comfort others.
When they are troubled,
we will be able to give them
the same comfort God has given us.

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Healing, Walking Weak & Wounded, Words of Endurance

All praise to the God and Father of our Master,
Jesus the Messiah!
Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times,
and before you know it,
he brings us alongside someone else
who is going through hard times
so that we can be there for that person
just as God was there for us.

We have always loved the writings of the late Henri Nouwen. His books encouraged us greatly during our journey through the valley of suffering. And his writings continue to encourage us through the Daily Meditations provided by the Henri Nouwen Society available for all at

It just so happened that while the Words of Endurance over the past month has been on the subject of “Walking Weak and Wounded” – the Henri Nouwen Society’s Daily Meditations have been about “The Wounded Healer.” We share his words with you and pray they are as much as an encouragement to you as they have been to us.

Sunday July 8, 2012 – The Wounded Healer

Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.

Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.

And now we share encouraging words for the journey from the Scriptures …

We have plenty of hard times
that come from following the Messiah,
but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—
we get a full measure of that, too.
When we suffer for Jesus, it works out
for your healing and salvation.
If we are treated well, given a helping hand
and encouraging word,
that also works to your benefit,
spurring you on, face forward, unflinching.
Your hard times are also our hard times.
When we see that you’re just as willing
to endure the hard times
as to enjoy the good times,
we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.

On the journey with you,
Dave & Jan Dravecky


Healing, Walking Weak & Wounded, Words of Endurance

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure,
so that we despaired of life itself.
Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves
but on God who raises the dead.
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril,
and he will deliver us again.
On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us …

A life crisis or prolonged suffering has a way of revealing our deep weaknesses and unhealed wounds. Whatever wounds we may have been able to deny, ignore or cover up seem to come to the surface and demand attention at the very moment we feel least able to deal with them. That is what happened to me when Dave was battling cancer.

If the only thing we had to deal with was the crisis itself – it would not be that difficult but it usually does not happen that way. We have the main crisis to deal with and the stress of that crisis radiates out and has an impact wherever there are underlying wounds or weaknesses.

It is a bit like an earthquake that shatters what was once a calm, peaceful landscape. The ground tears apart in one place leaving a gaping hole in a road – it shifts in another place causing the side of a building to collapse and somewhere else it leaves a visible fissure on the surface of the ground. The underlying weaknesses existed all along but they did not become visible until the earthquake hit.

So what do you do when a crisis shatters the landscape of your life? Well I can tell you that first, don’t try to patch over the surface. Second dig deep – go to the root cause. Of course this is easier said than done.

My first instinct was to patch the cracks. Being Jan, I tried to keep everything under control. I felt secure when things were under control. So I tried to fix it all. But long before I could patch up the surface – I ran out of energy. I literally wore myself out trying to smooth over the shattered landscape of our lives and I ended up in a deep dark depression.

I was beside myself. I’d always been able to handle my life. I’d always been able to patch up the surface but this time there were so many fissures and holes and tears I couldn’t take care of them all. Like the Apostle Paul, I despaired of life itself – I was at the end of myself. I felt shame and guilt that only deepened my depression.

Although that was a terribly painful place to be – reflecting back it was also a very good place. Because just like with the Apostle Paul this happened that I might not rely on myself to fix everything but on my Lord. When I reached that point of total weakness, I made a conscious choice to surrender to God.

My healing process began as I started to learn the Truth from God’s Word. The Holy Spirit started showing me in the Scripture the lies I operated my life by which included believing that I was responsible for everyone and everything around me. (No wonder I was exhausted!) Through His Word, God showed me that while I am supposed to help others with their burdens I am not responsible for all because we are each responsible to carry our own load (Galatians 6:2,5).

I also believed that I needed to earn God’s love but through His Word, He showed me that He loved me because of who I am – a child of God with wounds and weaknesses – not because of what I do (1 John 3:1).

As strange as it may seem, I am now very thankful that my life fell apart when it did. The foundation I had for dealing with life was very weak and when the first major crisis hit – it started to crack – because my trust was in me rather than God. Scripture warns us …

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.

Through our crisis – our time of suffering – as terrible as it was – I experienced the transformation that Romans 5 talks about.

We know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
ROMANS 5:3-5

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.

God strengthened my character – giving me a new foundation – a new trust and hope in Him – enabling me to endure any future crisis by relying on Him because I (like the Apostle Paul) know that he will deliver us again.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.

On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky


Healing, Hope, Pain, Walking Weak & Wounded, Words of Endurance

Then Jesus said,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you,
because I am humble and gentle at heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
MATTHEW 11:29-30

Once we come face to face with our weaknesses and our sins then we need to take them before God. We need not be afraid to go to Him. If we need forgiveness and/or need to mature and grow in areas that we are incapable of doing ourselves then we need to ask God for forgiveness and allow Him deep within the darkness of our hearts. We must remember …

He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Not only do we find mercy instead of condemnation but also we discover that taking our weaknesses and sins before God is our first step to purifying our hearts.

If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 JOHN 1:9

It was not easy for me to take those first steps. It was difficult enough to admit my sins and weaknesses to myself let alone to my Lord. I was so humbled but once I did He lifted me up and I found mercy.

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
JAMES 4;6,10

I now know I can trust Him with who I truly am – warts and all. And when I stumble I can trust that that He will uphold me.

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

I can also trust that He will continue to work within me – bringing His light into the darkness of my heart – building maturity within me – till I am with Him in heaven.

Being confident of this,
that he who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus.

The next step I needed to take was to share my sins and my weaknesses with other safe people that I trusted. I still remember how hard it was to look my wife in the eyes and tell her I was scared. I was scared of facing those first batters in the Major Leagues – I was even more scared to face cancer and death – Me, the big tough strong Christian man.

But what a relief it was to get those burdens out in the open and to have others share my burdens. What an encouragement it is to have even one trustworthy person with whom we can share our wounds and our weaknesses that gnaw at us deep within our heart. When we are willing to let trusted safe people know our struggles, our fears and our needs it is so much easier to face life’s challenges together. We are not meant to live our lives alone. We need others to pick us up when we fall.

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.

And we need the prayers of others.

Therefore confess you sins to each other
and pray for each other
so that you may be healed.
JAMES 5:16

Be assured that we can trust God and others with who we truly are. When we finally take this step then we will find we are on the only True Path to healing and maturity.

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky


Fear, Healing, Pain, Walking Weak & Wounded, Words of Endurance

It is amazing how strong we can become
when we begin to realize what weaklings we are.
It is in weakness that we can admit our mistakes and correct ourselves by confessing them.
It is in weakness that our minds are open to enlightenment from others.
It is in weakness that we are authoritative in nothing and
say the most clear-cut things with simplicity and consideration for others.

We each have an image of who we want to be. We can paint a pretty rosy picture of what we want people to see and we may be able to wear our masks and fool others as to who we really are quite successfully through life. But when adversity and suffering come along – the image changes. Like nothing else can, suffering exposes who we truly are. It exposes our weaknesses, spotlights our failures and bares our wounds.

No matter how flawless a picture of ourselves we have created, the truth is, we know there is another not-quite-so-nice person behind our masks. Whether we like it or not, we are weak people. There are areas of life that are hard for us. We face situations we fear we can’t handle -we respond in ways we wish we didn’t – we protect areas of woundedness. And because it is painful to face the real person behind the masks – most of us won’t do it until adversity or suffering strips away the image and forces us to be honest about who we are.

Without a doubt, adversity and suffering played a role in causing me to look at the image I had built of myself. When I first began pitching in the major leagues – it was tough. I had painted a picture of Dave Dravecky as the tough guy who could deal with any amount of pressure and pitch under any circumstances. The truth was those first days were downright awful. I did not pitch well and I was scared to death that I would not be able to cut it. I feared failure.

When I battled cancer, I was again forced to look honestly at the person behind the image. I was a Christian – I wanted to be good to others – I wanted to be kind – selfless instead of selfish. But what I saw of myself during that time of suffering was not good or kind or selfless. No, instead I was angry and I lashed out at those I loved most exposing the real me. I felt shame and I understood what the Apostle Paul meant when he said …

I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do.

I eventually realized that much of my anger was caused by fear. I was sure of my eternal destiny but I was afraid of my own mortality. Like so many other cancer patients I did not want to deal with that fear face to face. So I tried to hide it – escape it by putting on my tough-guy mask. I was not going to let my weakness show.

But the demons of fear, weakness, failure and woundedness don’t go away. They merely fester deep inside. We may think we escape them for a time but during our quiet alone moments they are right there – consuming us – paralyzing us. Then we have to muster up the energy to go back into the real world with our masks back on. But it is too exhausting to do that indefinitely.

I share about these two experiences from my life because in both cases I was pushed to face who I truly was and not only was it scary but I did not like what I felt or saw. I could not tell anybody what I was feeling because I was afraid to expose the real me. What I have learned since is that sooner or later whether we face cancer or any kind of adversity – every one of us has to face our weaknesses – we have to be real and honest about who we truly are.

We can try out best to hide who we truly are – we can continue to wear our masks but there is a better way to deal with our weaknesses, failures and wounds. That better way is to face honestly who we are and to share that truth with God and others we can trust. It begins when we accept the truth and admit that we are weak when all along we thought we were strong. We know this because the Lord says …

“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Then we along with the Apostle Paul can honestly say …

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake,
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And we can say this because …
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
HEBREWS 4:15-16

On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky