Joni Eareckson Tada, best-selling author, speaker, and leader of an international ministry, just had her “50-year anniversary” of being in a wheel chair. She was in a diving accident on July 30, 1967, which rendered her quadriplegic.
During the last 50 years, Joni has experienced many other difficulties as well. She was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer which she received treatment for, and she is currently suffering from severe chronic pain.
In an interview with Christianity Today, Tada shared about her last 50 years and how she has been faithful to Jesus through all of her suffering. She also talked about the idea of healing, and what she believes about how God chooses to heal people.
She said, “Just the other day I was reading 1 Peter 5:10 [ESV], where Peter says, ‘After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace…will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.’ Honestly, I’m amazed that the last 50 years feel like only ‘a little while.’ Maybe God does that when we finally do love Jesus more, when we finally do follow him more closely. Maybe he erases all the horror, all the despair, all the depression of the past when we learn how to trust God.”
When asked about her view of healing, Tada became brutally honest. She said that when she was first injured, she thought she just needed more faith in order to be healed. As time progressed and after studying Mark 1, she realized that God is interested in a deeper healing. While she still encourages everyone to pray for healing and have faith for it to display God’s glory, she said that those “miraculous healing are the exception rather than the rule.”
The speaker went on to talk about her experience with a disability and about the initiatives she has worked on to help with society’s view of it. Throughout the entire interview, Tada gave words of encouragement to those suffering.
She said that if she could tell her 17-year-old newly-injured self one thing, it would be to “love Jesus more, obey him more. Follow him more closely- not at a distance. Don’t second guess the Holy Spirit’s whispers and convictions in your heart. Don’t make your own decisions without checking in with God- follow him much more closely.”
She then ensured those suffering that light is available both at the end of the tunnel and through it as well. She said, “[God] pushes into the background all the terrible times of anguish, and he brings forward the highlights- the moments of hope, peace, and growth. As I look back over 50 years, I just see God at work. That’s pretty exciting.”
What do you think about this story and the encouragement Joni gives to those who are suffering? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook. For a related story, a former lead singer recently opened up about his faith in God that he has found through suffering.