Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday -- Because Of ... Not In Spite Of

I've been a fan of Joni Eareckson Tada ever since I first picked up the book "Joni" when I was a pre-teen.  Joni was injured in a diving accident in late 1960s when she was a teenager, and has been a quadriplegic ever since.

I absolutely love her most recent book, "A Place of Healing:  Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty" and I've actually already written about it twice on my blog:  here and here.  Recently, I have felt the need to pick up this book again.  (And actually, the Kindle edition is available for FREE on Amazon right now ... get it before the price goes back up!)

I think that every person who loses a loved one to a disease that causes pain and suffering wonders why their prayers for healing were not answered in the way they would have chosen.  Did they not pray hard enough?  Did they not have enough faith?  Was there some sin in their life that prevented healing?  Joni, who has been serving the Lord from a wheelchair since 1967 (without a miraculous healing, mind you), has a unique perspective on these kinds of questions.

Every chapter in this book is full of things that make me think.  So I've decided to go back through it slowly this summer, and share some of those things on Thoughtful Thursdays.  Maybe we can think through some of these things together.

Here's what caught my eye this week.  In the introduction of the book, she reveals the fact that in addition to her paralysis, she is now dealing with intense, chronic pain.  And here's what she says about it...

Do I pray for miraculous healing for my chronic pain?  You bet I do.  

Am I expecting it?  If God wills, yes.

"Whatever You want, Lord," I pray.  "If it would give You more glory and advance Your gospel more quickly, I'm all for it!"  Always and always I want to be in submission to the Father and obedient to the Word of Jesus -- knowing full well that if I had everything else in life and lacked that, I would have nothing at all.  

Because isn't that the bottom line?  That Jesus gets the glory, whether I jump out of my wheelchair pain free and tell people that my healing is genuine evidence of God's awesome power ... or whether I continue smiling in my chair, not in spite of my pain but because of it, knowing I've got lessons to learn, a character to be honed, other wounded people to identify with, a hurting world to reach with the gospel, and a suffering Savior with whom I can enjoy greater intimacy.  And every bit of it genuine evidence of God's love and grace.

Here's the part that caught my eye and made me think -- "...whether I continue smiling in my chair, not in spite of my pain but because of it...".

It made me wonder ... Can I do that?  Can I smile, not in spite of my pain, but because of it?  Can I smile because of what I've experienced in my life, because of what God continues to teach me on a daily basis?

Hmmmmm.....let me think about that a little more...

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