Here are a few more comments from Joni Eareckson Tada that we didn’t have room for in the magazine (see “Loving life” from the Jan. 12 issue and “Choosing to sing” from the Jan. 26 issue, as well as another online-only excerpt “Joni Eareckson Tada on words that hurt, actions that help” posted last Saturday). In the following excerpt she tells how, after becoming a quadriplegic, she prayed ardently for God’s physical healing. She also talks about a hard nightly experience.
Were there Christians who said then, who say now, that if you only had great faith God would heal you? Do you, or did you, get that occasionally? Yes. I would read those passages off Scripture which seemed to guarantee that God would heal. When I was released from the hospital, I remember going to crusades of Kathryn Kuhlman, a famous faith healer, a Benny Hinn sort. I hoped that somehow God’s healing spirit would visit the wheelchair section, that those of us who were the tough cases would suddenly jump up out of our wheelchairs—but the spotlight was always on the other side of the stadium.
How did you feel when the ushers came at the end to escort you away, unhealed? I remember sitting there looking up and down this line of people on crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs and thinking to myself, “Something’s wrong with this picture. I must not be looking deep enough into God’s Word because I know these people believed.” I certainly believed. I was calling up my girlfriends saying, “Next time you see me I’m going to be running up your sidewalk. God’s going to heal me.” So I went back into God’s Word and began to see things I never saw before.
Such as … In the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus says, “If your eye causes you sin, pluck it out. If your hand sins, cut it off. Better that you go into life maimed than enter hellfire.” That little portion of Scripture clued me into God’s priorities. God would have us go through life maimed, if that means spiritual health and well-being. That is the deeper healing that He’s looking for. So, I quit banging on heaven’s doors to get me healed. I began submitting to His Word.
Your suffering isn’t just by day. You’ve been married for 30 years, and you were telling me about the decisions you have to make at night about whether to wake up your husband, Ken. My hands don’t work. My feet don’t walk. So, in the middle of the night, after Ken has turned me and put pillows behind my back and I’m all tucked in nicely with the blankets up, sometimes at 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock in the morning I get uncomfortable. I have to make a choice. Am I going to wake my husband up to turn me or am I going to make it to morning?
How do you choose? Sometimes the discomfort is such that I have to wake him up, but I’m thinking of Philippians chapter 2, verse 4, at 2 in the morning. How can I look out for my husband’s interest? How can I put him first? He needs rest. He had a hard day yesterday. You know what? I just bet I can make it to morning. Those are the kinds of decisions that I make countless times during the day based on God’s Word. It should influence our decisions. It should inform our choices. For me, I think I can be a good wife. No, I can’t fold towels, I can’t iron shirts, I can’t whip up an omelet, I can’t rub my husband’s back. But I can cheer him on, look out for his interests, defend his reputation, pray for him, applaud him, and think of him at 2 o’clock in the morning. That’s being a good wife.