Sin and Suffering

  • June 10, 2011
  • #7595

Joni shares that God has used affliction to discipline her and protect her from sin.

Before I became paralyzed, I reached for a lot of bad things!

That’s right, I'll admit it, I confess. I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and when I look back on my years on my feet when I was a teenager, well… it’s not a pretty sight. My feet--especially when I was a teenager--took me into a lot of places that, had my parents known… oh my goodness! And my hands reached for a lot of things that were far from good. Driving to Washington DC on a Friday night? Going over the state line where they sold beer to minors? I thought nothing of joining my friends. And some of those parties… I shudder to think how my entire life could have been ruined back then in my friend’s basement. Funny thing is, I called myself a Christian at the time – I had prayed to receive Jesus, but as far as living as though He were Lord of my life… no, I kind of reserved the throne of my heart for myself and what I wanted and when I wanted it. Somehow, someway, God protected me. Whoa, did He protect me!

And you know how He really protected me? He did it through that diving accident I suffered just a few weeks after my high school graduation. Suddenly and drastically, all my choices were taken away from me. Friday nights were no longer mine. My feet couldn’t walk down anymore paths to destruction. My hands couldn’t reach for anymore vices. For nearly two years, I remained in hospitals and rehab centers, trying to come to grips with how different my life was going to be. I knew that my diving accident had changed things – it changed everything! It set me on a totally different path – and ultimately, it meant freedom and liberty as I reached out to Jesus for help and hope. 

And now looking back? Oh, my goodness. I am so grateful, so glad, so relieved for the discipline of the Lord. Yes, that’s right, I believe that my diving accident was my heavenly Father’s way of being a good daddy who needed to apply some reproof in my life, some correction (hard as though it may have been), some discipline to get me back on the narrow way. I couldn’t be more pleased with God's decision; I couldn’t be happier; and I say that even now – 40 some odd years later – in this wheelchair!

And you know… the lesson is for you, too. Perhaps you’re going through a time of affliction – are those sins which used to so easily beset you still as attractive as they were before the trial you now find yourself in? If you’re still longing for those “bad old days” and missing the sin you once found such pleasure in, then you, friend, are wasting your affliction. Disability and disease and disappointment are designed to destroy the appetite for sin. The Bible says that he who has suffered in the flesh is done with sin!  Pride, greed, lust, hatred, impatience, unforgiveness, laziness, and procrastination – all these are the adversary’s that your suffering was meant to destroy. Don’t just think of battling against your affliction (maybe it’s cancer; maybe it’s heart disease, whatever)… think about battling with it. Lust and impatience and pride are much worse enemies than quadriplegia and cancer, heart disease or chronic pain. Let the presence of eternity make the sins of the present look as futile as they really are.

And if you need a little help in this battle against sin, then visit my radio page today at to ask for your free copy of Dr. John Piper’s booklet “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” Remember, let your physical affliction be your friend… welcome it as a friend… because it’s designed by God to help leave sin behind. I say amen to that!

© Joni and Friends

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