A Victory Through Suffering by Joni Eareckson Tada

One hot July afternoon in 1967, I dove into a shallow lake and my life changed forever. I suffered a spinal cord fracture that left me paralyzed from the neck down, without use of my hands and legs. Lying in my hospital bed, I tried desperately to make sense of the horrible turn of events. I begged friends to assist me in suicide. Slit my wrists, dump pills down my throat, anything to end my misery!

Paralysis was God’s plan?

I had so many questions. I believed in God, but I was angry with Him. How could my circumstance be a demonstration of His love and power? Surely He could have stopped it from happening. How can permanent, lifelong paralysis be a part of His loving plan for me? Unless I found answers, I didn’t see how this God could be worthy of my trust.

Steve, a friend of mine, took on my questions. He pointed me to Christ.

Now I believe that God’s purpose in my accident was to turn a stubborn kid into a woman who would reflect patience, endurance and a lively, optimistic hope of the heavenly glories above.

A new perspective

My wheelchair used to symbolize alienation and confinement. But God has changed its meaning because I have trusted in Him. Now my wheelchair symbolizes independence. It is a choice I made and one that anyone can make.

I have discovered many good things that have come from my disability. I used to think happiness was a Friday night date, a size 12 dress, and a future with Ethan Allen furniture and 2.5 children. Now I know better. What matters is love.

Good things for the future

I live with the heightened awareness that better things are coming. The good things in this life are only a foreshadowing of more glorious, grand things in heaven.

The words of this song capture the thrilling perspective that I have come to know in the years since my accident:

I rejoice with him whose pain my Saviour heals.
And I weep with him who still his anguish feels.
But earthly joys and earthly tears are confined to earthly years,
And greater good, the Word of God reveals.
In this life we have a cross that we must bear;
It’s just a tiny part of Jesus’ death that we can share.
And one day we’ll lay it down, ’cause He’s promised us a crown
To which our suffering can never be compared.

That’s why Heaven is nearer to me, and at times it is all I can see.
Sweet music I hear, coming down to my ear,
And I know that it’s playing for me.
For I am Christ the Saviour’s own bride,
And redeemed I shall stand by His side.
He will say, “Shall we dance?” and our endless romance
Will be worth all the tears I have cried.

Take a look at your life. How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

Is this the life for you?

If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.

 

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