This post is #57 in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.
I thought I'd share a little more from Joni Eareckson Tada in today's post. For those of you who don't know her story, Joni broke her neck in a diving accident in 1967 at the age of 18, and became a quadriplegic. She published an autobiography in 1976, when I was 11 years old, and it quickly became one of my favorite books.
I think one reason why I liked it so much is because she was brutally honest about her bouts of anger and depression following her accident, even contemplating suicide at times. Over time, though, she turned back to the Lord, and she has been a powerful witness for Him for many, many years now.
Joni is now nearly 70 years old, and has battled breast cancer along with enduring chronic, "jaw-splitting" (her words) pain. Yet she still continues to serve the Lord with all her might from her wheelchair. Her most recent book is called "A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty", and it is excellent.
If you have ever questioned why God heals some people and not others (and who hasn't?), this is the book for you! I mean, why hasn't God healed Joni? After all, she's served him faithfully all these years ... and wouldn't her miraculous healing bring thousands of people to salvation? She explores this topic thoroughly with a wisdom and peaceful acceptance that amazes me.
Here's just a brief excerpt:
"In the meantime, these afflictions of mine -- this very season of multiplied pain -- is the background against which God has commanded me to show forth His praise. It's also that thing I am to reckon as 'good and acceptable and perfect,' according to Romans 12. God bids me that I not only seek to accept it, but to embrace it, knowing full well that somewhere way down deep -- in a secret place I have yet to see -- lies my highest good.
Yes, I pray that my pain might be removed, that it might cease; but more so, I pray for the strength to bear it, the grace to benefit from it, and the devotion to offer it up to God as a sacrifice of praise."
This book also gives reassurance for those of us who have lost loved ones to devastating illnesses, like cancer. When those doubts wiggle their way in ... Was Hannah not healed because we didn't have enough faith? Was there some sin in my life that kept God from hearing my prayers? Why did so-and-so get healed, and Hannah didn't? ... these words serve to remind us of this truth:
"Let us then not say God cannot heal and will not do so. Let us rather say God can heal and will do so if it is for His glory. The saint is to remember that God is the judge as to whether or not He will display Himself and His power by a miraculous act, and also when, where, how, and with whom this will be done; and he is to keep constantly in mind that God is just as faithful and loving when He does not so display Himself as when He does." (Joni is actually quoting the words of Henry Frost here.)
If you've got a couple of minutes, I highly recommend reading the brief article linked below. I think you'll find it well worth your time to click over to it. If you do read it, please pay close attention to the very last line. ... It is absolutely beautiful.
Why Joni Eareckson Tada Wants to Bring Her Wheelchair to Heaven