Whether or not you are familiar with Joni and her ministry, it is hoped that these quotes will spur you on to get more of her books or watch more of her videos. The depth of wisdom and spiritual understanding found in them are a real source of inspiration and encouragement.
That suffering is something we all experience to varying degrees is simply a fact of life in a fallen world. We all go through mental or physical or emotional suffering, and for some it seems to be a massive part of life. One person who knows all about suffering – and for the great majority of her life – is Joni Eareckson Tada.
Most of you know the moving story of the American evangelical Christian author, artist and speaker. Born in 1949 in Maryland, she was a very active, sports-loving girl. But all that came to a sudden halt in 1967 when she was just 17. A dive into shallow water left her paralysed from the shoulders down.
And despite multi-millions of prayers from so many people, and two hard years of rehabilitation, she remains in that condition today. Imagine being a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair for 53 years. Many people would not have been able to cope with such a situation, but the grace of God has enabled Joni to thrive spiritually and to be a blessing to countless people all around the world.
Her first book was the best-selling 1976 autobiography Joni. That was followed two years later by another very popular volume, A Step Further: Growing Closer to God through Hurt and Hardship. She has penned many dozens of books since then, and most of them could certainly be cited and quoted from here.
But let me refer to just three of them. In 1995 she wrote Heaven: Your Real Home, which was updated in 2018. In 1997 When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty appeared. And in 2010 A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty was released.
All three volumes offer us so much wise counsel and profound truth about suffering, hardship, hope and heaven. When you personally struggle on a daily basis with great suffering for over half a century, you become either better or bitter. Joni has taken the former path, and the spiritual and theological truths she shares with us are invaluable.
So let me offer a few choice quotes from each volume. In her book Heaven she says this:
“I still can hardly believe it. I, with shriveled, bent fingers, atrophied muscles, gnarled knees, and no feeling from the shoulders down, will one day have a new body, light, bright, and clothed with righteousness – powerful and dazzling. Can you imagine the hope this gives to someone spinal cord-injured like me? Or someone who is cerebral palsied, brain-injured, or has multiple sclerosis? Imagine the hope this gives to someone who is manic depressive. No other religion, no other philosophy promises new bodies, hearts, and minds. Only in the Gospel of Christ do hurting people find such incredible hope.”
“When Christians realize that their citizenship is in heaven, they begin acting as responsible citizens of earth. They invest wisely in relationships because they know they’re eternal. Their conversations, goals and motives become pure and honest because they realize these will have a bearing on everlasting reward. They give generously of time, money, and talent because they are laying up treasures for eternity. They spread the good news of Christ because they long to fill heaven’s ranks with their friends and neighbors. All this serves the pilgrims well, not only in heaven, but on earth; for it serves everyone around them.”