Joni Eareckson Tada was a vibrant 17-year-old in the summer of 1967 when she inadvertently dove into shallow water, paralyzing her from the neck down. Desperate, depressed, and suicidal for years, one day Joni cried out, “God, if I can’t die, show me how to live.” And he did. Joni is now a sought-after international speaker, best-selling author of more than 50 books, renowned mouth artist, worldwide disabilities advocate, and founder of the ministry Joni and Friends. We talked with Joni, who is a TCW advisor, on enduring through suffering.
You have endured tremendous suffering—living with quadriplegia, surviving stage-3 breast cancer, and enduring intense chronic pain for more than 15 years. Given all of those trials, has persevering through suffering gotten any easier?
Well, my quadriplegia, even after 48 years, is not really a big challenge. Neither is my cancer, difficult as it was for several years. But dealing with chronic pain has become harder. The older I get, the more pain I’m experiencing. And that daily pain has a way of complicating even ordinary days.
When that happens, I remind myself of 1 Samuel 7, when Samuel put up a memorial, his Ebenezer, after the Philistine victory and proclaimed, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” I think about that all the time and tell myself, Thus far the Lord has helped me, so why would he fail me now, and why would he forget me in the future? God has constantly proven himself trustworthy.
What else helps you when you’re in pain?
Most often I will sing a hymn or quote a Scripture over and over in my head. I love hymns because they are set to a tune, so they stick in my mind and heart throughout the day.
In the past few days, I’ve been ...1
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