A Purpose for Living

  • June 13, 2011
  • #7596

If I were to ask, what is your purpose for living? What would you say?

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and, I'll confess, for the longest time I had no idea how to answer that question. It was those early days after the diving accident in which I became paralyzed and as a quadriplegic there was no purpose for living, as far as I could see. And, boy, did that thought sink me deep into depression. Maybe you can understand and you’re not even in a wheelchair – maybe you feel as if you have no purpose and no hope; no reason to get out of bed or work or love or live. And like I once felt, you may feel it in your entire being. That’s the kind of depression that leads to despair. And nothing feels worse than that. 

In fact, it was that despair that frightened me – I had already lost my body and I was truly afraid then of losing my mind. It was this fear of losing it mentally that drove me into scripture. My sister, Jay, would get me up in the morning and park me in front of a black music stand in the living room which held my Bible. Holding a mouth-stick in between my teeth, I would spend afternoons flipping through the pages of my Bible. Fighting to get free of those depressing feelings, I would ask the Holy Spirit to show me a purpose for living; give me a reason to get up in the morning. It was like I was challenging Him to give me a really good reason to live without use of my hands or legs. 

That’s when I read I Peter 1:22 where it says, “Love one another deeply, as from the heart.” Right there it struck me: oh my goodness that is a purpose statement. It’s a command. It’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In the simplest terms, God wanted me to start loving people--like my sister Jay-- it was only a beginning, only a small simple step, but it was nevertheless a reason to get out of bed in the a.m. I mean, here my sister, Jay, was devoting her time to taking care of me and welcomed me into her home to live with her… and the Holy Spirit was saying to me: Joni, the least you can do is make it your goal to show her love and appreciation. And that’s a pretty good reason for living!

At first it wasn’t easy, it didn’t even seem to be enough, but every morning when I got up, I had to fight paralyzing feelings of hopelessness and despair in order to reach out and encourage my sister, Jay. And every time I felt like it was too much effort, too much of a bother, God would remind me that loving my sister – loving others – was my personal commission from God Himself, the King of Kings. If I was God's servant – and I was – and He was asking me to do something, He was giving me a purpose for living. It’s only when the King says that He doesn’t need you anymore that your purpose is done (and there’s no chance of Him saying that because God says His purposes for us last through all of eternity. 

Friend, you don’t have to be spinal cord injured to relate to this. You have a purpose for living, and in its broadest terms, your job every morning when you get up is to find ways to glorify God and enjoy Him. Find ways to make His name famous. Find ways to uphold His reputation. Basically, that’s what glorifying God is all about. Now you might think that sounds impractical and not very concrete, but believe me, it’s a solid, practical reason for living, and you carry it out every day in small, sometimes private daily steps of faith and obedience. To help you do this, I’d like to send you an excellent little booklet by Dr. Edward Welch entitled “Depression: The Way Up when You Are Down.” All you have to do is visit my radio page at joniandfriends.org and ask for your copy. Remember that if you do anything because of Jesus; anything to please Him, then you bring glory to God. And that is an exalted purpose for living.

© Joni and Friends

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