Joni Eareckson Tada is founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Joni is the author of numerous books, including Joni and Ken: An Untold Love Story and When God Weeps.
“He too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:14–15).
“Francie, please file this and make copies of this letter, would you?” I hardly looked up from my desk while talking to my assistant. “And, one more time,” I groaned, “would you please pull out the sofa bed?”
For the fourth time that day, I needed to be lifted out of my wheelchair and laid down. We had to readjust my corset—shallow breathing, sweating, and skyrocketing blood pressure were signaling that something was either pinching or bruising my paralyzed body. Francie wiped away my tears. As she shifted my body, examining my legs and hips for pressure marks, I stared at the ceiling. I was done with being paralyzed. I was tired of the never-ending, day-to-day disability routines. I’d had my fill of it and mumbled to the ceiling, “I want to quit.”
“Oh, come on,” Francie joked, “what are you always saying? You ‘can’t do quadriplegia,’ but you ‘can do all things through Christ’?”
I didn’t have a comeback for that one, so I remained quiet. We couldn’t find anything wrong with my body. Francie hoisted me into my wheelchair.
“Where do I go to resign from this stupid paralysis?” I said.
Francie grinned. She’s heard me say it scores of times. As she was about to leave, she paused. “I bet you can’t wait for heaven. You know, like Paul said, ‘We groan, longing to be clothed with a heavenly dwelling.’ ”
My eyes dampened again, but this time they were tears of relief. My Christian friend had just given me a very comforting, powerful reminder. “Yeah, it’ll be great,” I said.
That afternoon, the verse she shared stuck with me, and I whispered a prayer. “Yes, Lord, I do look forward to being whole, to having a body that will never know pain. But to be honest, what I really want is a new heart that doesn’t want to give up or quit.” I sat in my office and dreamed of what I’ve imagined a thousand times: heaven. Jesus’ death and resurrection secured for us many amazing things, and one is a firm hope of eternal life in the new heavens and new earth with no more sorrow, pain, or tears.
It’s all I needed. That afternoon, I jerked my will right-side up, refocused my emotions, and realigned my thoughts. I repeated Psalm 43:5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (ESV). I kept talking to my soul, mentally rehearsing a flood of other heavenly promises: When we see him, we shall be like him. … For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. … That which is sown in weakness will be raised in power. … He has given us an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. … If we suffer with him, we shall reign with him. Before leaving the office that day, I found my courage and said with a smile, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
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Source: Christianity Today