Don't Waste Your Hardships

  • June 6, 2011
  • #7591

If I have to live in a wheelchair I'm not going to waste a day of it.

I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and you know what, that is the way I live. Not long after the diving accident in which I became paralyzed, I learned that it’s not enough… it will not do to say that God only uses our suffering. It’s more than that. God designs it. He intends it. Strangely enough He purposes and plans it. How else do you think He’s able to fit everything together into a pattern for good for our lives? What God permits, He permits for a reason. (No, it’s more than that)… He permits for a good reason. And that reason is His perfect design. If God foresees a dive into shallow water that results in a broken neck, He could stop it or not. And if He does not, He’s got a purpose for allowing it to happen. If God foresees molecular changes becoming cancer, God can stop that, but if He chooses not to He’s got a purpose for that cancer. And since our great God is infinitely wise, it is always right to call this purpose of His a design… and as hard as it may sound, it’s a beautiful design. 

Now I know that this flies in the face of many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who believe that all tragedies begin and end with Satan – the buck stops on his desk, not God's, but not so. Although Satan is real and causes a huge amount of pain in this world, he does not call the final shot. Look at the story of Job. When Satan struck Job with boils, Job attributed it ultimately to God. And in the final chapter of that story, it says that Job’s family and friends comforted him (now get this) for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. I tell you those words are hard to swallow, but they’re not mine; they’re the Bible’s. 

And please don’t think that when God allows evil to touch our lives, it’s some kind of curse. I remember that for the longest time I would look at my wheelchair as though it were a curse. When I was first injured I thought God was mad at me; He disapproved of me; He was out to get me. I had to learn that when I trust Jesus Christ I am united to Him and in Him there is curse, there is “no condemnation.” 

I like what Dr. John Piper says about this. He writes, “The diseases we bear are not a curse. They have been transformed from a punitive pathway to hell into a purifying pathway to heaven.” That is a powerful statement. Maybe before we knew Christ our sufferings were a punitive pathway ushering us into hell… but once we are united with Christ, those same sufferings can purify us, change us, transform us and make us holy – they are our pathway to heaven.

Psalm 84 says that “The Lord God is a sun and shield; He bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Friend, join me in believing that with all my heart. And what good things have come as a result of my wheelchair? An earnest reliance on Jesus every morning, noon and night… I simply cannot make it without him… And that's good! A deeper empathy with other people who suffer, here and abroad… That is good. A livelier hope of heaven and prayers filled with faith – my wheelchair has helped make that happen, and that is good. So can you see why I'm not about to waste one day in this chair of mine? It's my purifying pathway to heaven. And friend, if you need to be reminded that your sufferings are designed by God for your good, then visit my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and ask for this special little article by Dr. John Piper, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” And remember today to learn to see your hardships as a purifying pathway to heaven!

© Joni and Friends

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