The Renew Conference in Nashville

  • Jan. 31, 2012
  • #7762

Joni shares how her attitude toward hardship and suffering changed after she broke her neck.

Welcome to "Joni and Friends" where the subject is often about hardship.

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and I have spent a long time studying that subject. And I’ve noticed one thing as I’ve studied – scripture is constantly telling us to view life, especially when it’s hard, to view it from an eternal perspective. Because what is transitory, such as physical pain, will not endure. But what the Bible says is lasting, such as the eternal weight of glory accrued from that pain, that is going to remain forever. Everything else – numbing heartache, deep disappointment, circumstances completely out of our control – everything else, no matter how real it seems to us on earth, the Bible calls it "light and momentary" compared with our response and what it’s producing for us in heaven.

When I was first injured, let me tell you, this idea, this kind of biblical nonchalance about gut-wrenching suffering, it used to drive me crazy. Stuck in a wheelchair I would wonder, Lord, how in the world can you consider my troubles light and momentary? I’m never gonna walk again, I’m never gonna run again. I’ll never be able to use my hands… my back aches… I’m trapped! Maybe you see all of this achieving an eternal glory, but all I see is one awful day after the next of life in this stinking wheelchair! My pain screamed for my undivided attention and it made me anxious to find a quick fix or an escape hatch right now. 

But somewhere after the first five years of life in my wheelchair, I noticed a change in my attitude toward hardships. I was beginning to see how my quadriplegia was working for my good and God’s glory. Simply put, it meant becoming more like Christ. For one thing, suffering was forcing me to make decisions about following God; I was choosing him more often over my doubts and fears. Also, suffering was also doing a cleanup on my character; I was able to stick to promises, I was able to quit whining, not be sloppy with relationships, and be more patient. Also my thoughts were more pure. I could not reach for the common temptations that used to entice me – having no hands sure helped. Something else about suffering: it was making me more sensitive to others. Before my accident, I didn’t care much about people in wheelchairs, but now it was a different story. Also, I realized that being paralyzed was making heaven come alive, not in a cop-out way, but in a way that made me want to live better here on earth because greater things were coming in the next life. 

In short, I was beginning to make sense of my suffering. And oh, isn’t that our heart’s desire when it comes to our own hardships? Don’t you want to be able just to understand? Well, now, many years later, I am more sure than ever that when it comes to our afflictions, God’s got His reasons. Good ones. I realize that a list of reasons can sound dry and technical, but I tell you, years ago when I was in that wheelchair, understanding the spiritual benefits behind my suffering helped answer—at least in part—that sticky question, “Why, God, have you allowed so much hardship in my life?”

Well, I want you to know I'm going to be speaking more about this subject at The Renew Conference next month in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s slated for February 10th-12th and I'll be joined by a host of other speakers who, like me, have studied suffering inside and out. I’d love to see you there, so please, visit my radio page at Joni and Friends for all the details. There are answers, there is hope in the midst of hardship. Learn more about it on my radio page at joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends

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