Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A purpose in the pain: An Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada

The theme of the October 2011 issue of Tabletalk magazine is "Dealing With Death and Disease." One of the features in this edition of the magazine is an interview with Joni Eareckson Tada that's titled "A Purpose in the Pain." Her answers to the following questions are worth taking time to read:

  • For our readers who are unfamiliar with your story, would you share how you became quadriplegic?

  • When you first discovered that you would never use your arms and legs again, what went through your mind and how did you cope with this reality?

  • Which passages of Scripture have given you encouragement during your struggles with disability and cancer?

  • How important is it for a person with a disability to have the support of his or her family and church during such times?

  • How would you encourage someone who has recently been diagnosed with a permanent illness or disability?

  • What is the best way to help nondisabled people view disabled people as more than just the sum of their disabilities?

  • Your most recent book is A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’ s Sovereignty. Can you tell us why you wrote this book?

  • How doe's Joni and Friends International Disability Center impact the world today?
Here's her answer to the first question: For years, I was one of those who insisted, “Handicaps happen to other people, not me.” But all that changed on a hot July afternoon in 1967 when my sister Kathy and I went to a beach on the Chesapeake Bay for a swim. The water was murky, and I didn’t bother to check the depth when I hoisted myself onto a raft anchored offshore. I dove in and instantly felt my head hit something hard — my neck snapped and I felt a strange electric shock. Underwater and dazed, I felt myself floating and unable to surface for air. Thankfully, Kathy noticed my plight and quickly came to the rescue. When she pulled me out of the water, I saw my arm slung over her shoulder, and yet, I couldn’t feel it. I knew then that something awful had happened. Later, at the hospital, I learned I had severed my spinal cord and would be left a quadriplegic for the rest of my life. I was devastated."

Joni gave a message at the 2005 Desiring God National Conference titled "Suffering for the Sake Of." She also has a chapter in the book based on the conference (Suffering and the Sovereignty of God) titled "Hope . . . the Best of Things." The book is available free online at Desiring God.

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