I Want to Live

  • Nov. 13, 2015
  • #8750

Depression can make us long for death, but Jesus’ amazing grace restores our desire to live.

I Want to Live

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I have a confession.

Now, I debated whether or not to say this on the radio, but I figured, ‘You know? Maybe this will help, perhaps this will encourage a listener whose going through the same struggle.’

You see, a little over 10, maybe 15 years ago, I fell into a season of chronic pain. I know you’ve probably heard me speak about that on the radio. Well, after trying medication (that didn’t work) and homeopathic remedies and other things, the pain did not abate. After several years of it, I started to battle depression. It was so discouraging to wake up in pain every morning. I remember back in 2006 when our Joni and Friends headquarters was being constructed, you know, our International Disability Center, back then in 2006, I was bedridden for a lot of the year (I even had to record these radio programs from my bed). And during that time, I was constantly battling depression like a low grade fever. But listen to this: in 2010, when I was told by doctors that I had stage III cancer, that very day I learned the news, my depression vanished!

Why did my depression disappear? Well, this is the confession part: privately, I thought that cancer might be my ticket to heaven; I thought God might take me home through cancer; that it would be my escape from depression. I feel badly admitting that, but it’s the truth. My depression brought out the very selfish feeling of, “Oh, God, I want out of here! I want to be done with this! Please take me home!” Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go home to be with Jesus, the Bible even tells us that to die is gain. But when a desire to go to heaven becomes a death wish, well then your focus is wrong.

But something wonderful happened after the doctors told me I had stage III cancer. As I went through my surgery, and recuperation, and then months of chemotherapy, my attitude began to change. I don’t know how to explain it, but suddenly friends became so much more precious. My husband, Ken, became more precious. My work at Joni and Friends became more precious and even doing this radio program – even from my bed – became more precious. All of it made Jesus and His amazing grace so much more precious! And before 2010 had ended, guess what: I was able to mentally tear up that ticket to heaven. I wanted to get on with life; I wanted to live! And I have the Lord Jesus to thank for that. Also, in a strange, odd way, I have cancer to thank for that. Drawing close to death’s door made me want to hold onto life. I think I experienced what Ezekiel chapter 16, verse 6 says: “Then I the Lord, passed by and I said to you, “Live!” All God needs to do is speak one word to you and me, the word, “Live” and it becomes reality; His word makes all the difference in the world. So if you are battling depression, don’t let it turn your focus inward, don’t be wishing for an early ticket to heaven. Instead, listen to God, listen to life – your life – it’s precious! Oh, and by the way, my pain has gotten much better over the years (I guess it’s a combination of ginger tea and turmeric, anti-inflammatories, deep breathing, stretching and drinking lots of water). And thankfully, depression has been kept at bay.

I have more to say on this in my booklet God's Word on Disability; so go to my radio page at joniandfriends.org and ask for your free copy. Finally, remember that God is saying to you today “Live!”

© Joni and Friends


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