A Scarred Veteran
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with an update on my health.
I know you have heard that I am back in the boxing ring again with cancer; in there going at round 2 after my original battle 8 years ago. This cancer was a big surprise and we discovered it by accident when my doctor ordered a PET scan before I attempted any new pain therapies. He said, “Just to be sure, just to be safe let’s do it.” And then added, “But I’m certain we won’t find anything.” Well, we did. Thankfully, the tumor on my chest wall was removed quickly and after I healed, I began undergoing radiation. That’s something I did not do with my previous cancer because of my fragile lungs. But technology has vastly improved in the last 8 years, and so I’m confident that my lungs are going to be safe. After all, I’ve got to have enough breathe to talk to you, right? And do my work at Joni and Friends, don’t you agree? And so, thank you for praying for me as I continue on through radiation therapy.
For now, all I can say is, this cancer has made me so grateful to be alive, to have strength and stamina; it has drawn my husband Ken and me even closer together; it’s made my friendships and connections with my family seem so much more precious. Honestly, believe it or not at night I lie in bed and have to fight back tears as I count all my blessings.
It was Eugene Peterson once described the apostle Paul as a “scarred veteran; a man who visited the extremes.” Well, I wouldn’t put myself in the same class as Paul, but I do know something about scars and about visiting the extremes – the extremes of pain, the rigors of cancer therapy, the difficulties of aging with quadriplegia. But that’s okay. As First Peter Chapter 2 verse 21 says, “to this you were called because Christ Jesus suffered for us, leaving you an example that us and example that we should follow in His steps.” There’s one more thing Eugene Peterson adds. He says, “Paul knows that what God has done within him is far more important and lasting than anything that could be done to him.” Wow! I say “amen” to that. This entire battle, this whole journey is all about bringing glory to God.
And I know I’m glorifying God because he is changing me in all of this. I’m just not the same Joni as I was before this new cancer. I know it, I can feel, I sense I am becoming a little more like Jesus, and I love that! It was Harry Reader who wrote, “Circumstances do not dictate your character, they reveal it and become the opportunity to refine it.” Yep, this cancer does not dictate who I am; it’s an opportunity though to refine who I am. And it’s always invigorating when we can demonstrate our loyalty to the Lord Jesus through a really tough trial. I mean, we can actually do something to delight, to please the Lord, because it gives Him great joy to see that we love holding tightly onto Him through any trial. When we do that, it’s another way of glorifying God. And that’s been Ken’s focus and mine too, through this whole ordeal. So, today as the Holy Spirit nudges you, would you please pray for me and pray for my husband too as he helps me undergo radiation therapy the rest of this month and perhaps next? And as you do, my prayer for you is that your circumstances won’t dictate your character; but that every circumstance will reveal what you are made of and become the glorious opportunity to refine all that you are. That’s the purpose behind my cancer and that is the purpose behind all the challenges you face, as well.