Joni Eareckson Tada is a woman who has endured much and yet faithfully walked with the Lord through it all. For 50 years now she has been in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic, due to a diving accident when she was 17.
What Joni has experienced would lead many people to give up on life, to feel defeated and purposeless. But as God still has her here on earth, Joni has continued to live her life with purpose and with an open hand, and the Lord has used in her incredible ways to reach people.
As I listened to her audiobook, "A Place of Healing," I was moved by her story for many reasons. But what especially stood out to me was her unwavering faith in the goodness of God, despite the fact that she hasn't received physical healing.
She so eloquently spoke the prayer above and it moved me as I thought about my own suffering. Though our stories and our pain are very different, it reminded me of how the Lord has us all in different places, walking through various trials, but all with one purpose–to glorify him and point others to Christ.
"The strength to bear my pain"
In and of myself I am weak. I don't have, nor can I muster up, enough strength to just be tough and make it through. In all seasons of life I desperately need the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me, to help heal the pain and cause me to continue walking with Jesus. I pray for strength from the Spirit that my pain wouldn't destroy me or cause me to be bitter; that I would quickly see through the illusion of self-sufficiency.
"The grace to benefit from it"
A prayer to not merely make it through the pain, to hurry up and want it to be over or "back to normal," but that God would grant me the grace to actual grow and gain because of this pain–a truth I've thought about often since this began, that our suffering doesn't automatically make us stronger but we have to choose to rely on the Lord and not succumb to despair.
"The devotion to offer it up to God as a sacrifice of praise"
We are called as Christians to "give thanks in all circumstances." Now it's not that we are to be grateful for the pain, but to choose to give thanks and praise God even in the pain.
Joni so beautifully closes this brief prayer with the image of offering our pain as a sacrifice of praise–to choose to give it to the Lord, praising him even when it's hard, and trust that he is at work in and through our suffering. And that God would grant us the devotion to do so continually, even if our trial lasts far longer than we thought or prayed it would.