Suffering is a part of daily life for many, especially those living with mental or physical disabilities. After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada has learned the importance of relying on God’s strength in the midst of chronic pain and suffering.
“There are plenty of days when my chronic pain discourages me, plenty of days when I feel overwhelmed by aging with quadriplegia. There are plenty of times when I feel discouraged but that’s OK, it’s my clue. It’s my nudge to quickly go to the Lord Jesus for His help.”
“I’m not ashamed of saying that I get discouraged, and at times I get down or even depressed, I’m not ashamed to say that. What I boast in is God’s power through that weakness.”
Many of us don’t want to talk about our afflictions –not even to God. We don’t want anyone to know the depth of our weaknesses. But Joni says we are missing out on the power of Jesus Christ by denying our need for His help.
“It’s the Christian way to live when we admit to a friend or admit to ourselves, I can’t do this. I am so worn out. I don’t have the strength.”
Instead of wallowing in the weakness, we can find strength in Christ.
“In turn, just flip it right around and say, Jesus, you’ve got strength. I can’t do what you’ve set before me, but ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:13)”
We gain further insight by studying the apostle Paul’s teaching on personal weaknesses.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
When we admit our weaknesses, we are allowing God’s power to shine through our lives. Joni elaborates on the dangers of relying on our own strength,
“If we don’t admit our hardships, if we don’t admit the times when we are needy, then we are setting ourselves up as a self-reliant and self-resourceful.”
“We get up in the morning and we head out the front door thinking, Jesus, I kind of got this Christian thing figured out; I kind of know the lay of the land. I’ll check in with you if any big problems occur, but I can pretty much take it from here.”
“That’s not the way to live as a Christian; James 4 says that God resists people like that.”
Instead of depending on our own strength, we need to rely on God’s strength and allow it to carry us through on a daily basis.
“Learn to look at your weaknesses, as I have learned to look at my quadriplegia and pain, as opportunities to meet the Lord Jesus every single day and say, ‘I can’t do this. But I can do all things through you as you strengthen me.’”
Joni Eareckson Tada is the founder of Joni and Friends, an organization accelerating Christian outreach in the disability community that numbers 610 million people worldwide. Joni is not only an international disability advocate but an artist and the author of numerous bestselling books.A Spectacle of Glory