Monday, October 18, 2010

Joni's Story, and Yours

I've written before about my admiration for Joni Eareckson Tada. She became a quadriplegic at the age of seventeen, but she's gone on to be a disabilities advocate and a powerful speaker, and the Joni and Friends International Disabilities Center coordinates outreach to families worldwide who have been affected by disability.

This year, at the age of 60, Joni was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Maybe your first response would be to get angry. It's not fair! Why are you doing this to me, God? Haven't I suffered enough? Those reactions seem only natural because they are. There is no easy answer to this kind of suffering.

Instead, evidence of the Lord's power and grace is that Joni has not chosen to respond in that way. In a recent interview with Christianity Today, she says this:

Even though it seems like a lot is being piled on, I keep thinking about 1 Peter 2:21: "To these hardships you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps." Those steps most often lead Christians not to miraculous, divine interventions but directly into the fellowship of suffering. In a way, I've been drawn closer to the Savior, even with this breast cancer. There are things about his character that I wasn't seeing a year ago or even six months ago. That tells me that I'm still growing and being transformed. First Peter 2:21 is a good rule of thumb for any Christian struggling to understand God's purposes in hardship.

She goes on to say,

I'm just so amazed by people asking me, "How can you approach this breast cancer with such confidence in a God who allows it?" And I'm being given the chance to answer.

The greater thing is not the miracle; it's the advancement of the gospel, it's the giving of the kingdom, reclaiming what is rightfully Christ's.

What an extraordinary testimony she offers. Read the whole piece; it will inspire you, whether you're facing daily conflict with a rebellious teenager, overwhelming debt, feelings of inadequacy, or a life-threatening illness. Would that our communities would be unafraid to share these kinds of stories for encouragement as we walk (run, limp, or crawl) beside each other on the journey day by day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I have read Joni's first book as a teenager myself. Her profound faith has overwhelmed me. She is truly an inspiration.