Joni Eareckson Tada: Turning the Sting of Pain to a Story of Gain.


She was seventeen, beautiful, and full of life.

With all those “castle in the air” dreams of any young girl, Joni never imagined her life’s journey will be on a wheel chair.

Until that fateful day…

A diving accident led Joni Eareckson Tada into a freaking journey.

Life indeed is far from a fairy tale story.

And girl, I know you’ve drank some cups from the sea of life’s troubles.

The disappointment, abuse (sexual, emotional, physical), hurt, failure, ill health, hope deferred, addiction, wrong choices… you name it.

The feelings of – “where was God when all this happened?” Does He really care? Does He see? Can anything good come out of my broken life? Will I ever find freedom and healing?

In fact, when you hear those sermons about God’s love, care, forgiveness, freedom, healing… All you can think or say is – MALARKEY! “You can’t feel my pain.”

Lots of horrendous memories and experiences.

Lots of questions desiring soothing answers.

Your story may be different from that of Jonis’ or of myself, but the truth God wants you to know is this – you can turn that sting of pain into a story of gain.

Joni’s Story

As a teenager, Joni loved life. She enjoyed riding horses, loved to swim. One summer in 1967, however, that all changed. While swimming with some friends, Joni dove into a lake not knowing how shallow it really was. She broke her neck, paralyzing her body from the neck down. For the next two years during her rehabilitation Joni struggled. She struggled with life, she struggled with God, and she struggled with her paralysis. Since then, Joni has written fourteen books, has recorded several musical albums, and she’s actively involved as an advocate for disabled people. Her life tells how a personal relationship with God helps overcome the obstacles of life, and how you can experience the love of God, and turn your pains to gains. (Adapted from – life stories)

Lessons to remember
  1. God is still God: Yes, and because He is God, He’s on His high throne, and aware of all that happens. He still loves and cares for you. That sounds paradoxical, right? “Yes!”

“Why will He watch all those evil things happen?” I love what Joni’s friend Steve said to her – “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves”.

Does that make any sense? Ok… Let’s look at God’s permission as this two-way thing.

On one hand, God has given man the right to choose, to decide between good and bad. But sadly, the wrong choice of one person rubs off hurt on another person.

On the other hand, God allows all sort of things He necessarily doesn’t enjoy watching – the hardships, suffering, loss, pain. God watched His only Son suffer and weep under cruel torture and injustice met out on Him by those He came to save. He hated the sight of the strips, spitting and spiteful crucifixion on the cross. Yet He permitted it, so that the world’s gruesome murder would give birth to the world’s gospel message – salvation for all. Though these bitter experiences of man aren’t palatable to God, He permits them, so that in one way or the other, they’ll produce what will bring glory to His name.

So, when Jesus cried, “my Lord, why has thou forsaken me”, I could imagine God say – “no Son, I have loved thee with an everlasting love”. His love and care hasn’t failed.

  1. Your past and present problems don’t define your future: That disappointment, abuse, pain, or even sinful habit and addiction doesn’t mean you’re doomed forever. As long as air still flows into your system, there’s still hope for you. God has a plan and provision of salvation, freedom, healing and fruitfulness for you. While Joni wrestled with depression and disillusion, if you told her she would have a world impact from her wheelchair, she’ll think you’re simply tickling her. But as she embraced God’s love, and loosed grip from the hurt, she was able to furnish her life for the future ahead. Because indeed, there’s a light shinning at the end of the tunnel. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  2. “Suffering is not for nothing”: That’s a statement made by one of my heroines – Elisabeth Elliot. On the surface, that may sound like – jerk. But indeed, If you look beyond the pains, you’ll see that – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The scripture is littered with verses that tells us the “benefits” of suffering- God uses it to shape Christ’s character in us ( 8:28–29), it produces patience (Rom. 5:4), it refines our faith like gold (1 Pet. 1:7), gives us a livelier hope of heaven (James 1:12). When at the end, you see what those pains have accomplished, you’ll agree with Joni when she says – “I really would rather be in this wheelchair knowing Jesus as I do than be on my feet without him.”

So, drawing from Joni’s story, how do you practically turn your pain to gain?

The pain-to-gain turning points

I’ll give you seven points –

  1. Turn to God in repentance and total surrender. Running away from God leads you into further pain and disillusion. He says “come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laded, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). That was the first turning point for Joni.
  2. Turn to prayers. Talk to God. Pour your heart out to Him. He hears, and will mend your broken heart.
  3. Turn to God’s word. It contains answers to those heart-searching questions. It has solutions to problems. It carries words of wisdom for the journey ahead.
  4. Turn to heaven-minded friends. Let your companions be those who will lovingly stir you to love God, to believe His word, to trust Him. Let them be people who will feed your soul with God’s word, and present you to Him in prayers. People who strongly believe that God has a beautiful plan for your life.
  5. Turn to that problem. Face those fears. Don’t run from it. Conquer it!
  6. Turn away from unforgiveness. Forgive that person, forgive yourself. The bitterness will hold you back in pain if you refuse to let go.
  7. Turn to someone else in need. Joni’s life and story is blessing lives today, your story can. As you walk through steps 1 to 6, this step will freely pour out. Write it! Speak it! Share the story of your pain, freedom and healing with someone. The world is waiting to hear it. Someone’s freedom and healing is attached to it. You’ll feel fulfilled and happy – just like Joni.

You can turn your pain to gain!

Remain Radiant!


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