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Disappointment —> His Appointment

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What’s the biggest disappointment of your life?

Maybe it’s a high hope that came smashing down with an injury, a breakup, a loss. Or maybe it was a noble dream- for healing, for children, for peace- that has slowly fizzled out.

I had some disappointment last week when some grand plans I had for myself and my family didn’t pan out. The details don’t matter. What matters infinitely more is that I learn to do disappointment well.

Because how I cope with my disappointment reflects a lot on my God.

For God’s Sake, Do Disappointment Well

My learning to cope has been slow. The devils of Self-pity and I-deserve are right there, crouching at my door, desiring to have me the second my plans fall through.

But I am learning.  Here are two things I know about coping with disappointment.

  1. Joy comes when we choose what we did not choose.
  2. Grumbling won’t make the bitter taste go away, but gratitude will.

But the third is new- or maybe it’s just a new spin on the first two.

See God’s Hand in the Crooked Path

In my disappointment, Ecclesiastes 7:14 gives me pause: Consider the work of God, for who can make straight what God has made crooked? 

Thomas Boston wrote a book on that one verse. It’s called The Crook in the Lot. Crook is short for crooked and lot is as in one’s “lot in life.”

Boston writes,

I am now meeting only what has been determined by his eternal plan. I know not what is the “reason” why it was appointed; but I see that God had resolved to do it, and that it is vain to resist him.”

When we are disappointed, can we say the same thing? That it’s not by chance or accident, but by His appointment?

Boston adds,

It is much, when we are afflicted, to be able to make this reflection. I had rather be afflicted, feeling that it is “the appointment of God,” than feeling that it is “by chance” or “hap-hazard.”

It speaks comfort to the afflicted children of God to consider that whatever the crook in your lot is, it is of God’s making and therefore you may look upon it kindly since it is your Father who made it for you. Question not but that there is a favorable design in it toward you.

And by some miracle of grace, that’s what saints do with their disappointment. They trust that there is a favorable design in their disappointment.

Because God makes no mistakes.

Too Wise and Too Loving to Err

John Paton and his pregnant wife Mary left Scotland to be missionaries to the New Hebrides islands in the South Pacific on April 16, 1858. They arrived on November 5th.  In March 1859, his wife and newborn son died.

Talk about a bitter taste and a crook in the lot.

After Paton buried his beloved wife and infant son, he said,

I felt her loss beyond all conception or description, in that dark land. It was very difficult to be resigned, left alone, and in sorrowful circumstances; but feeling immovably assured that my God and father was too wise and loving to err in anything that he does or permits, I looked up to the Lord for help, and struggled on in His work…

I do not pretend to see through the mystery of such visitations – wherein God calls away the young, the promising, and those sorely needed for his service here; but this I do know and feel, that, in the light of such dispensations, it becomes us all to love and serve our blessed Lord Jesus so that we may be ready at his call for death and eternity.

It does. In our disappointment, it becomes us all to rest assured of our God’s wisdom and love.

Love Leads in the Opposite Direction

I’ve been camping in the land Exodus lately and was greatly impacted by Tim Keller’s sermon on chapter 19.

The Israelites are three months out of Egypt but further from the Promised Land than they were before they left.

Exodus from Egypt map, ESV Study bible

God, for kind reasons of his own (Ex. 13:17), led the people in nearly the opposite direction of their destination and he took them into a desert. A mountainous, barren desert. A land far worse than Egypt.

I love how Keller explains this “history of grace,”

God says I’m going to take you over here, but I’m going to take you by way of a place that is farther from Egypt and a land that is worse than Egypt. And that’s where he meets them. And it is often so…

If you admit it, you’re further away from the the things you thought God would be giving you than you were when you trusted him and it seems like God is taking you in the opposite direction.

So often the history of grace in our lives follows this same path. God seems to be taking us away from where we thought we were going, but he’s still leading us to the Promised Land.

In other words, our disappointment is God’s appointment. That’s how God’s grace often comes.

Disappointment, His Appointment

It just so happens that the very same day I wept myself dry, I ran across this poem.

“Disappointment — His Appointment”
Change one letter, then I see
That the thwarting of my purpose
Is God’s better choice for me.
His appointment must be blessing,
Tho’ it may come in disguise,
For the end from the beginning
Open to His wisdom lies.

“Disappointment — His Appointment”
Whose?  The Lord, who loves me best,
Understands and knows me fully,
Who my faith and love would test;
For, like loving earthly parent,
He rejoices when He knows
That His child accepts, UNQUESTIONED,
All that from His wisdom flows.

“Disappointment — His Appointment”
“No good thing will He withhold,”
From denials oft we gather
Treasures of His love untold,
Well He knows each broken purpose
Leads to fuller, deeper trust,
And the end of all His dealings
Proves our God is wise and just.

“Disappointment — His Appointment”
Lord, I take it, then, as such.
Like the clay in hands of potter,
Yielding wholly to Thy touch.
All my life’s plan in Thy moulding,
Not one single choice be mine;
Let me answer, unrepining —
“Father, not my will, but Thine.”

-Edith Lillian Young

No sugarcoating: “doing” disappointment this way is both a bitter pill and a sweet remedy. I cried hard last week. Coping with disappointment this way hurts my flesh. But as it does, it heals my soul.

Even when I don’t know why, I’m learning to change that one letter and see that His appointment is a better choice for me.

“For He performs that which is appointed for me…”

Job 23:14a

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Don’t Strike The Rock! Learning About Consequences From Moses

Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them…

And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.

Numbers 20:8, 11-12

Too Extreme?

Do you ever wonder at how God doles out discipline? Like when He stopped his meekest man Moses from entering the Promised Land simply because he struck a rock? How sometimes divine judgement seems too severe for the crime?

Moses had been told to strike a rock before (Ex. 17:1-7). And God himself had called his people rebels. I’ve written about these rebels before. So what’s so wrong with Moses doing the same?

After all, Psalm 106 tells us that the people sorely provoked Moses. They angered God too. And it went ill with Moses on their account, for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips.

Can we really blame Moses for lashing out?

Who Can Blame Moses?

Moses was God’s servant, His pick among all the men on earth to lead His people out of slavery. The “Man of God”- as Psalm 90 calls him- brought the Israelites out of Egypt through the Sea and for 40 years led them through the wilderness. You’d expect that Moses would be the one to bring them to the Promised Land.

He was not. Because God did blame Moses. He found fault in Moses and held him responsible. That’s what blame means.

Numbers 20:12 makes that clear: Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them. The offense was serious enough in God’s eyes to ban Moses from leading Israel into Canaan Land.

But you’re in good company if you’ve struggled with this. Scholars have called it “one of the most difficult problems in the Old Testament.” Articles have been written to explain. Nineteenth-century pastor Alexander MacLaren asked “Was his momentary failure not far too severely punished?”

Like banning dessert for a year because a son stole a cookie. Or denying a week at camp for a minute of sassy talk.

But God said it and I believe it. Surely the Judge of the earth will do right.

And I still want to understand why.

Still a’fighting, and a’struggling?

So, this time on my way through Numbers, I paused to ponder why. I did some work- and had some fun- studying this out. Here’s what I found.

The first thing is really a side note. But I think it’s important because misunderstanding it trips many of us up.

We think that when we are converted our old demons will suddenly die. Then we lose heart and grow faint when they don’t. We forget that as long as there’s life, there’s a fight.

W. A. Criswell explains,

If you are hotheaded and tempestuous before you were saved, you’ll have that same tendency to burn up, to be hotheaded after you are saved…

Moses was a tempestuous man.  He had a fiery and a burning spirit… Moses had it back there in the land of Egypt when he saw that Egyptian wronging that Israelite slave, and he killed him with his bare fists [Exodus 2:11-12]. And it comes out again here.

Now what happens to you when you’re saved is by the side of that burning spirit, God will put a spirit of grace and intercession by which you’re able to command and to control that volatile spirit.  But you’ve still got it…And on the inside of our souls there goes civil war all the time, a’fighting, and a’struggling all the days of your life.

Now it comes out again here in Moses.  Moses had…such high hopes for the [next generation] that when they fell back into that old way of their fathers, of murmuring, and finding fault with God- Moses was irritated.  His spirit burned within him.

To us it seems so forgivable. To us it seems a harsh punishment for a weakness in Moses’ temperament.

I ask again. Why this divine decision? 

Why Was God So Hard On Moses?

Because instead of doing what God said- “Speak to the rock, and water will gush out” [Numbers 20:8]-Moses dishonored God and disobeyed.  “He lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock,” [Numbers 20:11]. 

Let’s don’t miss God’s mercy in his judgment: Despite the people’s grumbling, despite the disobedience of Moses, God gave water abundantly, to his rebel people and their animals.

Still came the consequence: “Because you did not believe in Me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them,” [Numbers 20:12].

God barred Moses from entering the land because he did not believe the Lord or uphold the Lord as holy.

Disbelief and Disobedience: Partners in Crime

For the record, disbelief and disobedience go hand-in-hand. They did for the Israelites in the desert (see Hebrews 4:1-11) and they do for us today. “Take heed, brothers, lest there be you an evil, unbelieving heart, that turns away from the living God” [Hebrews 3:12].

Moses overtly disobeyed God [Numbers 20:811].  That was the first sin. 

His second sin was disbelief. “Because you did not believe in me,” God said. Just speaking to the rock wasn’t enough. Moses took matters into his own hands. He took his rod and struck twice. He didn’t believe that to speak to it was good enough.

But there’s one more layer that helps me understand why this particular sin, striking the rock twice, was so offensive to God.

God has great care for his types. (And that Rock was Christ.)

If I read one commentary on Numbers 20, I read a dozen, and every one brought out this point home:

When Moses struck the rock, he “broke the type.” 

That might sound confusing. Let me explain.

Do you remember God’s direction to Moses? “See that you make every thing according to the pattern showed to you on the mount” [Exodus 25:940Hebrews 8:59:23]. When the tabernacle was erected, did you hear the refrain?

It went like this, “Moses did as the LORD had commanded him.” The curtains and veil and lampstand and altar and basin and table- all were to be “just so,” as the God commanded. Because each of these things had a meaning that extended past itself.

They were types, or pictures of the person or the thing represented or prefigured. So when God barred his meekest man Moses from entering the Promised Land it wasn’t simply for striking a rock.

It was for striking the Rock. Because the rock was a type. The Rock was a picture of Christ.

Struck Only Once

God had told Moses to strike the Rock once before [Exodus 17:6]. But he was not to strike it again.  Because the Rock represents God’s beloved Son, the Suffering Servant, our Jesus Christ.

Christ was struck once. He died once [Hebrews 9:27-28], never to die again.  Scripture is so clear on this point.

 Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.”

1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust.”

 Hebrews 10:10, “[W]e are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Hebrews 10:12, “But Christ offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins…”

Christ was struck for us once and for all. Our Prince of Glory died  once on that wondrous cross.  And that type is precious to God. 

As Criswell said, “God has great care and great store for His types.” 

Does God Still Discipline His Children?

Moses was disciplined for breaking faith, for his sin. But do believers still face consequences when we break faith?

Last week I sat around a table with several Christian ladies. When the subject of suffering came up, one quickly said, Well, I know suffering can’t be from God because God doesn’t punish his people. 

Really?

If by punish she meant God’s holy wrath- his retribution, not restitution- she is definitely right.

But if she  meant the Hebrews 12 corrective, fatherly discipline, “that for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,” she was quite wrong.

Sin Has Consequences

John Piper’s description clarifies,

There is an infinite difference between the painful things that come into our lives and discipline us—designed for our good that we may share God’s holiness as loved children—and that terrible experience of pure retribution where we simply bear what we deserve and experience God’s justice forever. 

I think the lady at my table did what many of us do.

She conflated- combined- two ideas into one that really are not the same. She joined the false idea- that God’s children will never suffer on earth because of their sin- with the glorious truth that God’s children will never- here or hereafter– never suffer the wrath of God.

Jesus took that- He was struck for that- once and for all. He bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). The record of our debt was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:15). There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Hallelujah and amen!

But this incident with Moses shows us in heart-achingly, vivid color that this side of glory, sin still has consequences.

For Our Instruction, That We Might Have Hope

When Canaan was so close Moses could taste it- it’s gargantuan grapes and pomegranates and figs-Moses pled with God to reconsider. So he could just to cross the Jordan.

But he couldn’t.

And there’s something we are supposed to learn from that. Because whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope

The Child’s Story Bible is succinct:

This was a bitter disappointment to Moses.  He begged God to let him cross the river so that he, too, could see the longed-for promised land.  God did not give Moses what he asked for.  “Be satisfied with what I have decided,” God said to him. “Do not speak about this any more.  Climb this mountain, and I will show you the land. Then you are to die here on this mountain. For you are not to cross the river.” (Deuteronomy 3:26)

Remember too, how David could not build the temple because he had shed so much blood? How his first child with Bathsheba died? 

I think we’re supposed to learn from Moses-and David-to take heed lest we fall, because even for God’s blood-bought children, sin still has consequences in this life.

But even their examples, Scriptures says, are meant to give us hope.

Glory Awaits

The Good Lord does not forget His saints. There’s more to the Moses story.

W.A. Criswell again.

God had some better thing for [Moses], and He has some better thing for you, in God’s will, in God’s time, in God’s purpose. He may interdict it now, maybe take it away from us now, maybe the dregs of bitter disappointment we drink in the cup now, but some day, some time, some hour, somewhere, God has some better thing for us [Hebrews 11:40] as He had some better thing for Moses [Matthew 17:1-3].

Moses bore God’s discipline for his sin. Rather than speak to Rock he disbelieved and disobeyed and struck the Rock- representing Christ- not once but twice.

Though he was sorely provoked, Moses wasn’t given a pass. He died on the Mountain. He did not enter the Promised Land.

But when the-Rock-who-was-Christ walked this earth and was transfigured on the mountain, you do know who was granted the privilege of standing with him in His glory, don’t you?

Because some day, some time, some hour, somewhere...

You know.

And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 

Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness…

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 

1 Corinthians 10:4-5, 11-12

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The Flat on the Way to the Fair: Faith, Fire and Why Trials Come

God will take you where you do not want to go to produce in you what you cannot achieve on your own. –Paul Tripp

Inefficiency. Futility. Wasted time. Those are villains in my kingdom, three of my greatest foes. And they all piled into the van with me yesterday

9:30- The dew was still on the clovers and we-Cream Puff vouchers in hand- were off, like barn clothes after chores. State Fair was one of a handful of “non-negotiables” on our summer calendar; a taste of good Midwestern fun for our Korean exchange son, Ki-Bum. 

State Fair or Bust.

9:45- KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP.  So our right rear tire unceremoniously gave up its ghost. And the van came to rest along a lovely bachelor button-ed strand of I-43.

Rare, declared Ki-Bum knowingly. I nodded.  

Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials…

Thankfully, Jim picked up the phone. We have roadside assistance, he assured,  Can you find the card? 

I did. And was soon informed that help would arrive within the hour. A little while. Various trials. 

Hey Mom, can we watch some Get Smart?  Gabe piped up, as his fearful tears dried. I brought them along, just in case. And Agents 86 and 99 and the old “Spy in the dog suit, phone in the tie” tricks passed three boys’ time. Now I can get a jump on those email. 

11:00- A Nissan pickup stopped behind us. Never mind that the tow truck was on another call or the four larger towns with towing services closer than this town. Not this guy’s fault.

These older vans with spares underneath- they can be a bear to release, Scott explained as he turned the giant screw driver round and round. But the spare wouldn’t drop. So he jacked us up and worked below while I worked that stubborn screw from above.

Well, I’m sorry. Scott finally said. If I had the tow truck, I could probably break it  loose, but the cable’s corroded. And maybe  this time ask for Rhode’s when you call. They’re just right up the road.

11:20- Scott rode off in his rugged Pathfinder.

…So that the tested genuineness of your faith- 

As  Agent 99 assisted 86, an agent three states away assisted me. I calmly described the first failed attempt  to put on the spare. And maybe Rhode’s  Service this time? I heard they’re in your network and just a a mile or two up the road.

May I put you on hold? she asked. 

Ms. Wallace? We have located roadside service for you. It’s the same shop as the first, but this time they’ll come with a tow truck. They should arrive in 45 minutes.

11:30- Here’s where my faith  faltered: Really? Really? You can’t find anyone closer? East Troy? Elkhorn? Waterfod? Burlington? Rhode’s is right up the road! I’ve been here almost two hours and there’s a town with a towing service a mile away. Scott-who you sent first -told me. 

Yes, Ms. Wallace. Your service should arrive within 45 minutes. They’ll be able to tow your vehicle, but you’ll need to secure a ride home. 

-More precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-

Tow it back? I just have a flat. The spare is right here. Their shop is 30 minutes south. We’re headed 30 minutes north- to the fair. And I’m supposed to secure a ride? 

Yes. I’m sorry, Ms. Wallace. Your tow should be there in 45 minutes. Is there anything else I can do for you?

Images of cream puffs and jersey cows and racing rabbits danced out of my head. Unlikely, I said.

11:40- What to my wondering eyes should appear but a Rhode’s tow truck behind me right here! Forget 45- this took 10!  I leapt from my seat to meet the Ken. He glanced at the flat, then down at his phone, Oh wait. You’re not the red ’05 Escape, are you?  

That’s probably the one up there, I said, pointing to the SUV that stopped on the shoulder a half hour after we had.

Sorry, ma’am. That’s the one I came for. Maybe I’ll check in with you after.  And Ken inched his truck up to the red ’05 Escape just ahead.

…May be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Chaos agents had captured Maxwell Smart and 99.

11:45- Jim, This is crazy. I’m waiting for the same towing service that couldn’t help me to come back as I watch a tow truck from a garage 2 minutes away helping a a vehicle 300 yards ahead. And Rhode’s does partner with our roadside assistance- Scott and Ken both told me so and how do I find a ride when they tow the van? 

Hon. I’ll see what I can do. Maybe Merten’s can tow you back to town. Sorry about the fair. 

God will take you where you do not want to go – or stall you where you do not want to stay- to produce in you what you cannot achieve on your own.

12:00- I paused my pity-party just long enough to see Ken’s truck backing toward us.

12:05 -Bring ‘er on up, Ken urged. So I eased the van onto the flatbed and all five of us crammed into the cab. Rare, I told Ki-Bum. And before Ken and I could connect all the dots around my Uncle Kevin who had been Ken’s friend, we were stopped in Rhode’s lot.

12:30- On the road again. State Fair or Bust. Or whatever’s necessary.

Why Trials Come

I wish I could say that Paul Tripp quote guided me through the flat. But I absolutely cannot.

But thank God, I can see it in the rear-view. I can see the grumbling, ungrateful, proud, impatient dross that tarnished my faith and needed boiling off. It was necessary.

So God allowed the blow-out. Then he sent Scott, without a tow truck, and Ken to the red ’05 SUV in front of us. He held off Rhode’s from up the road. All of it was in his good plan, to purify the precious faith He loves so much, a faith of greater worth than gold.

So why do trials come? I’ll answer that one with three more from Paul Tripp:

What kind of Messiah do you want? Do you want a Messiah that will deliver to you your ever-morphing definition of what would make you happy? Do you want your Messiah to make your kingdom work or do you want a Messiah to welcome you to a better kingdom?

I don’t know about you, but I want Him to welcome me to a better kingdom than my own efficient, productive, no-wasted-time little kingdom. More even than an idyllic morning at my beloved State-Fair kingdom. Way, way more.

A Sure Sign Of His Love

So I’m with Tripp: We’d better quit naming our trials and difficulties as a sign of God’s unfaithfulness and inattention. In the life of a believer those trials are a sure sign of His faithful, persevering, redemptive love. And with the Getty’s too: When trials will come, no longer fear, For in the pain our God draws near, To fire a faith worth more than gold, And there His faithfulness is told. 

God will trouble and shake us and allow trials that boil our faith, not because he’s mean and capricious but because he loves us and wants to welcome us to a more glorious kingdom. But it might feel dangerous, because he won’t relent until our faith is refined. Until we glisten with the image of His beloved Son.

Waiting in the van, I heard the Chief of Control say, Max, you realize that you’ll be facing every kind of danger imaginable? Max replied, And  loving it. 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor.
 1 Peter 1:6-7

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Held By God: 12 Joni Eareckson Tada Quotes on the 50th Anniversary of that Dive

He has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me. The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace.

Joni Eareckson Tada

When Abbi Met Joni

Mom had left her copy out.

So when I found The Unforgettable Story of a Young Woman’s Struggle Against Quadriplegia and Depression with that puzzling picture of a pretty young thing with a pointy paintbrush trailing out of her smiling mouth, this 13 year-old reader was intrigued. And I picked up Joni. I read about her carefree, Maryland life. I read until her paralyzing  dive the July when Joni was 17.

“How awful!” I shuddered and determined never to dive again.

Then I put Joni down.

We were to meet again five years later at an college missions conference in Urbana, Illinois. Joni was all the buzz in our dorm so I tagged along with my roommate to a breakout session featuring a middle-aged Joni. We stole in that classroom and as I staked my claim on a rare square foot of hardwood still vacant, I scanned the transfixed faces all around me. I remember thinking, I don’t know Joni like they do. My adolescent impression of Joni as  portent and victim still held sway.

But not for long.

If Joni can…I Can

As she sat strapped in her wheelchair, tenacious faith and God’s strong grace poured from Joni’s lips. By the end of that hour Joni had moved from tragic victim to epic hero of the faith. Joni’s dive changed my life.

That summer, I signed up for the most grueling job of life. My campers were eternal souls living in disabled bodies and with damaged minds attending a Joni And Friends affiliated camp. And while I did it out of love for God, I also took it on for Joni.

A few years later, now married, degreed and employed, I began a ladies’ book club. Our first pick? Joni’s own, When God Weeps, subtitled, “Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty.” Then it was Holiness in Hidden Places and A Place Of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God’s Sovereignty. Beside my bed now? A Spectacle of Glory.

And if you happen to live nearby and want to borrow a Joni book- please, just drop a line.

If Joni can give thanks, I can too. If Joni can trust God, I can too. If Joni cares for them, I can too. If Joni loves Jesus that much, I can too. 

The Dive That Drives Us To God

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the dive that paralyzed Joni and brought hope and courage to so many, countless lives, If Joni can give thanks and trust God’s love from her wheelchair, with her cancer and chronic pain, surely, by God’s grace, I can too. 

We all struggle in various ways. We all suffer and have heartaches and backaches and pain . Some of us grumble and turn against God or reject His power or refuse to believe He is love.  Some of us wrestle with the mysteries of suffering, pain and God’s sovereignty. All of us want to know our suffering matters to the Almighty.  Joni has suffered and still suffers,  with chronic, sometimes excruciating pain.

But Joni trusts that God is weeping with her, suffered for her, and she joyfully presses on. Joni  speaks and writes and breathes for the glory of God.

So even though I’ve already posted about my heroes and quoted Joni before, this post is all of gratitude to God for my hero in the faith, Joni Eareckson Tada.

These dozen quotes from Joni might help explain why.

  1. “Heartache forces us to embrace God out of desperate, urgent need. God is never closer than when your heart is aching.”
  2. “Like a black, velvety cloth set against diamonds, your disability provides a remarkable backdrop that magnifies patience, perseverance, endurance, and an uncomplaining spirit. These Christlike qualities that God longs to cultivate in your life are amplified against your obvious hardships. Your chronic condition is obvious to others—but what God wants to make obvious..is your perseverance and lack of complaint.”
  3. Sometimes God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves.”
  4. Contentment is realizing that God has already given us everything we need for our present happiness. It is the wise person who doesn’t grieve for the things he doesn’t have, but rejoices over the things he does have.”
  5. “Suffering provides the gym equipment on which my faith can be exercised.”
  6. God’s children are never victims. Everything that touches their lives, he permits. The irony is, you can’t imagine a more victimized person than Jesus. Yet when he died, he didn’t say, “I am finished” but “It is finished.” He did not play the victim, and thus he emerged the victor. Forget the self-pity…victory is ours in Christ. His grace is sufficient. Know this truth and it will set you free.”
  7. Only God is capable of telling us what our rights and needs are. You have to surrender that right to Him.”
  8. “God uses chronic pain and weakness…as his chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependency on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away.”
  9. True wisdom is found in trusting God when you can’t figure things out.”
  10. “I’d learned that you can’t wear a crown unless you bear a cross – that if our Savior had learned obedience through suffering, we should expect the same.”
  11. “You don’t hear any cheers or applause. The days run together―and so do the weeks. Your commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other is starting to falter…Perseverance. Determination. Fortitude. Patience…Your life is not a boring stretch of highway. It’s a straight line to heaven. Look at the fields ripening along the way. Look at the tenacity and endurance. Look at the grains of righteousness. You’ll have quite a crop at harvest . . . so don’t give up!”
  12. “Let affliction have its perfect work. The result? Nothing short of the unspeakable splendor of Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

“Heaven is just around the corner.”

That’s a quote from the last page of A Place Of Healing, But it’s not the last word. Joni follows it up, faithful, friendly and forthright as ever, with a favor- for us:

Would you do what so many of us who are paralyzed or too lame or too old or disabled can’t do? Would you open your Bible to Psalm 95:6, read it aloud, and then do what it says?

I can’t kneel, but if you can, do.

Kneel before the Lord God, your Maker and mine. And while you’re down there, if you fell so inclined, thank Him for being so good to a paralyzed woman named Joni.”

Yes, Lord. Yes- thank you for being so good to us by being so good to a paralyzed woman named Joni. 

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep of his hand.

Psalm 95:6-7