Joni Eareckson Tada says that suffering is “like a little splash-over of hell.”
Few people can talk about the intensity of suffering with more authority than Joni. A tragic accident fifty years ago left her a quadriplegic, requiring 24-hour care. She’s also survived a stage-3 breast cancer diagnosis, the removal of a 3-inch tumor, and months of chemotherapy that followed.
So when she talks about how to handle suffering in a way that enriches our lives and glorifies God, we all do well to listen.
Like all of us in the midst of our deepest pain, Joni had questions. “What kind of Savior, what kind of Rescuer, what kind of Healer, what kind of Deliverer would refuse the prayer of healing from a paralytic?”
Why won’t God remove my problem? That’s what we really want to know. He has the power to change my situation, and He’s a loving God, right? Why won’t He heal me? Why won’t He ____? We all could fill that blank with an answer unique to us.
The answer Joni shares after having lived it first is this: God may erase your suffering entirely. But if not, He’ll use your pain to remove anything that stands in the way of fellowship with Him, if you’ll open your heart to Him and learn to trust His way.
Suffering wakes us from whatever spiritual slumber we find ourselves in. It reminds us that we are broken and in need of redemption. It strips us to our core and bonds us to our Savior who was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
If “suffering” describes some part of your life, I invite you to join us for our radio program over the next couple of days featuring Joni Eareckson Tada. This hopeful and inspiring recorded message will offer the hope she discovered in biblical passages like 2 Corinthians 6:10, which says, “We are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. We are poor, yet making many rich. We have nothing, yet we possess everything.”
Suffering may be a “splash-over of hell,” but Joni says “the splash-over of heaven is finding Jesus in your splash-over of hell.” Peace isn’t found in bright days with no bad medical reports, no pain, or everything going well and feeling comfortable and cozy. At least, not for long.
Ultimately, finding the Son of God in your suffering is what will carry you through your pain to whatever Christ has for you on the other side. That’s what I’ve experienced, and Joni testifies to that in a powerful way that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make your heart sing.