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 years, I became consumed by our suffering. I tried harder and harder to have a "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 wasn't looking for any "treasure" 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 wanted out! But in spite of my bad attitude, in spite of the things I was doing in the wrong 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 had 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's when I discovered the first treasure God had for me. And I wasn't even looking for it! In fact, I was ready to give up everything and 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, answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68, 69).

When I realized 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 hadn't realized it, suffering had tested, refilled, and strengthened my faith. I discovered, as 1 Peter 1:3-7 says, that faith is far more valuable than gold. That discovery renewed my hope and inspired me to search the Scriptures to see what God had to offer.

I have to admit, however, that my motivation for searching the Scriptures at that time was not very pure. I wasn't seeking truth; I just wanted relief from my pain. Instead, I found hope in the midst of my pain. So many times a nugget of truth came just when I was at the end of my rope, when I had no more strength even to look for hope. 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.

The treasures God gave me in the darkness continue to bless and enrich my life today. When God met me in the darkness, I learned that He is faithful and can be trusted. It is such a relief to know that He will care for me even when I don't have the strength to care for myself. Because He is in control, I don't have to be. For someone who tends to try to please everyone and "fix" everything, that is a great treasure!

I know that no matter what I may face tomorrow, God will be faithful. I know that far greater treasures than I can imagine await me because God gave them to me in the darkness when I wasn't even looking for them!

by Jan Dravecky
The Encourager Summer 2004
Vol. 10 No. 2