Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada

Refuse to Fall Down

May 24, 2019

Have you ever longed to be one of those who wakes up early to pray?

Well hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and I have a few friends who do, indeed, get up at 5am to have a quiet time and pray. I, I’ve always been a little envious, but I’ll admit, I am not exactly a morning person. It takes quite awhile for me to get to sleep, and so those early morning hours are pretty precious. Well, it is not that way anymore. Maybe I'm still feeling the effects of my recent cancer treatment, or whatever, pain usually wakes me up, it does, around 4:30 in the morning, and I simply cannot find a comfortable position in which to sleep until help comes to get me up at 7:30 in the morning. Now, I used to panic. Like, “I’ve gotta get to sleep. I’ve got to get back to sleep. I don’t want have to wake up Ken again to have him turn me.” And I would pray that God would help me come up with a position where I could sleep without being distracted by pain. I stare at the clock projected on my ceiling, and I groan, and I think to myself, “You mean it’s only 3:30am?!” Yesterday, however, I found this poem and its truth really hit the spot. And I think it will touch you, too. The, the author is unknown, but this is how it goes. It says:

Refuse to fall down; and if you cannot refuse to fall down, refuse to stay down.

And if you cannot refuse to stay down, lift your heart toward heaven, and like a hungry beggar, ask that it be filled. You may be pushed down. You may be kept from rising. But no one can keep you from lifting your heart toward heaven. Only you. It is in the middle of misery that so much becomes clear. The one who says nothing good came of this, is not yet listening.

I love that part about lifting your heart toward heaven. It made the difference for me. Once God helped me release the anxiety, I could not be kept from rising. And at 4am, when I did, wide awake, I heard God whispering to me, “Joni, why don’t you use this time as your early morning prayer time?” And all of a sudden, a light went on. Of course! I’m not gonna lay here anxious. I’m to pray. I was able to embrace my circumstances, and not fight them, not feel defeated or pushed down by them. And so now, when that early hour appears on my ceiling, I see it as an invitation to draw near to God. At a time when, normally, I would never be awake, draw near to Him and praise Him. Actually, more than listing petitions, that 4:30 hour, it really is my time of worship.

Amazing things can happen when we stop resisting the irritating, inconvenient circumstance; you know, the problems we can’t solve. And just lift our hearts to the Lord, He then turns those difficult moments into seasons of worship. You know I'm reminded of that every time I watch this wonderful little video of my stroke-surviving friend, Katherine Wolf. Given that May is National Stroke Awareness month, I posted Katherine’s brief but powerful testimony on my radio page today at joniradio.org. I mean you watch this video, and I tell you you’ll never have a reason to complain again. Katherine was a beautiful, successful model in Los Angeles; a bright young Christian woman married to a Pepperdine law student. And after their first child, she suffered a massive stroke which left its mark in many ways. But Katherine refused to stay down. And her incredible story has been inspiring people like me to do the same ever since. So today, visit joniradio.org, and watch Katherine’s video. Then, be certain to share it with your Facebook friends, or anyone you know who has survived a stroke.

See you later at joniradio.org. I’m Joni Eareckson Tada.

© Joni and Friends

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As Christians, our eyes have been opened. But still we’re blind. Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and aren’t you glad that God has opened our eyes to what’s wrong, what’s evil, and what’s spiritually dangerous? For the most part, we know what’s really bad for our souls, but sometimes we are blind to that which is, uh, well, just not the best for our souls. Like um, we all know that most of the entertainment on TV these days is totally worthless. Most of today’s sitcoms are raucous and irreligious, and the storylines have no redeeming value. But isn’t it great when you do come across a TV documentary, or, or some innocuous TV show that doesn’t offend your spirit? And I guess that’s why I, uh, occasionally enjoy watching HGTV and the program “Fixer-Upper.” It’s a totally benign show about a Christian couple who fix up old houses. Nothing bad, nothing dangerous nothing irreligious about that. But if, let’s say, I watch three or four recorded episodes close together, it’s strange, but all that TV as benign as it seems, just, just watching all that “good” TV totally dulls my spirit. Fixer-Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines is fun, it’s uplifting, but still, after a whole bunch of episodes in a row, I come away feeling mediocre, and not as spiritually sharp, or keen, or aware. Sometimes, not even as interested in the things of God. And that, I do not like! It's why the Holy Spirit inspired Psalm 119, verse 37, it’s a prayer to God, and it says, "Turn my eyes away from worthless things and preserve my life according to your Word." I think another translation says, "Give me life through your Word." Now not that the TV show “Fixer-Upper” is a worthless thing; but too much of it, and what do you know, I’ve drifted away from preserving my spiritual life. Look, we all need to recognize that wrong does not always look wrong to us. What God says is dangerous does not always seem dangerous. Evil does not always appear evil. We need protection from our own blind eyes and wandering hearts. And I’m telling you, a lot of TV will dull the spirit. So how do we know when something is unhealthy for our souls? Well, again, Psalm 119 asks God to turn our eyes away from worthless things, and give us life through your Word. It’s the word of God that shows us things that are life preserving. The Bible is like wearing a pair of Christ-colored glasses that show us what things have the potential to be worthless. The apostle Paul knew this; he says in First Corinthians chapter 6, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything." Look, I don’t wanna be thinking about TV episodes in the middle of the night; that’s what it means to be dominated by something. And it doesn’t have to be about TV; it could be someone for whom you have great affection. It could be a book or a movie, a memory, a desire; a special purchase, like clothing or new home. All things are permissible for you as a Christian, but when they dull your hunger for godly things, then they’re not helpful. As iron sharpens iron, so friends should sharpen their Christian friends. And a good way to do that is to pass this program along on Facebook. And as you do that today, ask God to open your eyes; open the eyes of those you love from anything that might blind them to the superior pleasure, the ultimate satisfaction of loving the Lord Jesus. God bless you today, and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends. © Joni and Friends
May 23, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and let me share with you about Scripture Earth. And actually I, uh, shared this about a month ago. What, it’s an amazing website, Scripture Earth. It lists the Word of God in every language on earth where the Bible has ever been translated. You need to visit the website, even if just for encouragement. ‘Cause when you look at all the many, many, many obscure languages from the Middle East, from Asia, Africa; I tell you, you’ll be breathless at the sheer number of thousands of languages in which the word of God is printed. It is so encouraging. And, uh, if you know, let’s say, a foreign student on your college campus from Algeria or India, or maybe the waiter at your favorite Vietnamese restaurant, or Thai, or Ethiopian restaurant, or maybe a family from Pakistan who just moved into your neighborhood; I don’t know, bake up a plate of fresh cookies, write a welcome note and provide the link to Scripture Earth. And if you’d like to see this amazing repository of Scripture, just visit joniradio.org where we have a link to the site. Well, now here’s the story. The last time I talked about this, I had no idea the wife of the designer of Scripture Earth would be listening. So here’s the story. Twenty years ago, Scott and Paula Starker served together as Bible translation and literacy team among the indigenous people of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. But in the blink of an eye, Scott lost his ability to speak and translate when he experienced a massive stroke, leaving him with aphasia and paralysis on his right side. But God had other plans! After rehab, and over the next 10 years, God used Scott with his background in languages, computers and engineering to create Scripture Earth with 3 other missionary colleagues. God pulled Scott away from a single language and people group, and set him within a team who wanted to design a way to get God’s Word out to millions via the internet. And I mean, imagine the thousands of languages that were mostly in written form back 10 years ago, but had never been catalogued together in one source. Even though Scott has a disability, and can only use one hand on the computer; even though his speech is impaired from his stroke, this humble man ended up serving as the systems administrator and programmer behind this complex website. Praise God – that to me is amazing! And his wife, Paula, wrote me saying, “Joni, I have never once heard my husband, Scott, complain about his hardships, or having to learn how to become left-handed and type one-handed on the keyboard. He’s humble; he’s focused, he’s committed to serving the Lord with his whole heart.” You know, I just thought this would be a great story to share since it’s National Stroke Awareness Month. And I am so happy to highlight Scott’s Starker’s story today, just to underscore how God delights in using weak people, even weak people with disabilities to accomplish great things for His Kingdom. Visit joniradio.org where we’ve provided a, a really great photo of Scott and Paula, as well as a link to Scripture Earth. And when you go on that website, click on the feedback tab and just say hi to Scott. Thank him for what he’s done. Just one glance at Scripture Earth, scrolling down and looking at all the thousands of languages in which the Word of God has been translated and printed, it’s gonna make your heart sing. So come and visit us at joniradio.org, and we’ve also got a link to a YouTube video about their testimony. You’ll hear directly from Scott and Paula, and their amazing story. So, contact us at joniradio.org. That’s a different link to my radio page than you usually hear me say, but it’s a lot easier, joniradio.org. And God bless you today, and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends.
May 22, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada to tell you about my friend, Don. I met him years ago when I was speaking at his church in Colorado Springs. I was talking about our “Wheels for the World” outreach; you know where we take wheelchairs and Bibles to needy disabled people overseas. At that time, some of our wheelchairs were being restored at a prison facility in Colorado. Well, Don is sitting there in the congregation listening to all this, and he decides to get involved. He gets his adult Sunday school group to help raise funds to provide more tools and workbenches for the prisoners who are restoring our wheelchairs. He even digs in and helps bring the ’Wheels for the World”restoration shop up to speed. From there, he helped us collect wheelchairs in his region, and then he decided that he could use his mechanical skills by serving on a “Wheels for the World” team to a developing nation. Well, he wrote me the other day, they said, “Joni, (this is what he said,) having been on 7 trips for “Wheels for the World,” I’ve seen countless times how the gift of a pediatric wheelchair or an adult -sized one really touches family. It’s the gift that helps open their hearts to receive the gospel. They see first-hand how generous the God of the Bible really is. And I tell my friends that there are '5' wins in the Wheels' Ministry: (1) a chair is salvaged; (2) a prisoner has got purpose, (3) someone gets the gift of mobility that changes their life, (4) many people are opened to receiving Christ, and (5) the team that goes to a third world country has a totally new perspective on life and an appreciation for their blessings. No other mission effort that I know of does so many things with 'one' item, a wheelchair!” Well you know, Don was just sitting there one Sunday morning in the church, and God spoke to his heart. Don’s the kind of guy who, when he sees the need, can’t wait to meet it. That’s just like him. He saw that he could do something to help those prisoners do a better job of refurbishing our wheelchairs. Next thing you know, he’s got his Sunday school involved. He is making a difference. Neither Don nor his Sunday school friends had much connection with prison ministry before, and they weren’t particularly involved with disabled people in their church, but they saw they could do something. They can raise funds. They can donate tools, hammers, wrenches. Make work tables, benches and so much more. Of course, when you see a need or start meeting it, God opens your eyes and you begin to see other needs: the need to collect wheelchairs, the need to minister to prisoners, and ultimately, the need to even serve on a “Wheels for the World” trip. Acts chapter 20, verse 35 says, "in all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" That perfectly describes people like Don who see a need and don’t wait around for others to do it. Huh-uh, no, they do it. And they get the blessing. We’ve got a “Wheels for the World” team in China this week fitting wheelchairs to some of the poorest disabled people in the world. Kids with disabilities who are forgotten, neglected. Actually this month, there are three different Wheels teams going to three different big regions in China. I know Don’s gonna be cheering on our “Wheels for the World “team with his prayers, and I sure hope you will, too. And if you’d like to serve on a “Wheels” team or help collect wheelchairs, then help us. Just visit our Wheels for the World page at joniandfriends.org for all the details. Find need, and then roll up your sleeves and meet it. God bless you today, and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends. © Joni and Friends
May 21, 2019
It’s National Stroke Awareness Month! And Hi! I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and I'm here with my friend Shauna Amick, who works with me at Joni and Friends where we are recognizing National Stroke Awareness Month, and we’re doing it with a little help from our friend, Katherine Wolf. SHAUNA: Oh, and I was blown away the first time I heard Katherine’s story – I mean here she is, this young, successful model in the Los Angeles area. She’s married to Jay Wolf, who’s now going to Pepperdine for Law, and one afternoon, when her six- month- old baby’s asleep in the next room, she just yells out to her husband; crumbles to the floor, and what they found out is she has had a massive brain stem stroke. So, I can’t even imagine, Joni, one day her modeling career is taking off, and the next she’s undergoing neurosurgery where actually part of her brain was removed. To me, simply surviving a trauma like that would be inspirational enough, but here Katherine and her husband Jay, they’ve taught us how to thrive under these incredible circumstances, and I know if Katherine were here with us right now, she’d be saying Happy Stroke Awareness Month! (JONI: She is so happy.) Oh my goodness, these are words I would never put together! But here’s our friend Katherine, a woman who’s had a stroke, telling us that even after that massive life-altering trauma – life is good because God is good. JONI: Well, Shauna, let me real quickly for our listeners play a clip, just a little clip, from a video that Katherine did for us. KATHERINE: Everybody wants to think their story is over when they have a stroke. It’s the end of the line for them; life could never be good again. Nothing could be further from the truth. Guess what just happened when you had a stroke? Your life got really exciting, it got amped out. ‘Cause now the world is watching. You get to cling to Jesus and show other people what that looks like through your story. Your life is good, because guess what? God is good! And God is in your story. He is always at work. SHAUNA: Oh, man, I just love her. She always puts a smile in my heart and that is why Katherine is such an encouragement to all of us. (JONI: Absolutely!) She reminds us that no matter what we’re going through, we can use that as a platform for making much out of Jesus. And Katherine, she states with both confidence and also great humility. JONI: And you know, Shauna, she speaks with such authority (SHAUNA: She sure does.), and it’s not that she’s got a Bible degree; she’s no theologian, but this woman knows the Word of God. And what gives her authority is the platform that God has given her in her immense suffering. But when you look at her and listen to her, it’s all about the joy of the Lord. SHAUNA: Oh, it just beams off her face and you hear it in her beautiful voice. Maybe it takes life being undeniably terrible before we can recognize its undeniable splendor. JONI: Wow, that’s so true. SHAUNA: It’s so much like Peter when he was walking on the water towards Jesus, we also we need to keep our eyes up looking at the face of our Savior, rather than down on those ugly details. That’s what Katherine and Jay do. JONI: They do it every day. So, friend, go to joniradio.org today where you will find a personal video message from Katherine Wolf (you heard part of it just a second ago) but there is so much more that she says that will touch your heart; make you laugh and bring a lot of awareness to what it means to live with stroke and do it with confidence. So, I don’t know if you can say it with me, but “Happy Stroke Awareness Month!” And Katherine’s beautiful smile is right there for you at joniradio.org. © Joni and Friends
May 20, 2019
I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I love that God takes up our cause. I felt it happen the other night. It was around 1 AM and I could not get back to sleep because of all the pain in my hip – because of my paralysis, I cannot turn in bed to make myself more comfortable (once my husband tucks the pillows this way and that, and I’m up on my side, it’s pretty much it until I call him early in the morning to readjust me). So, that sets the stage, okay? But this night this was different. The pain was unusual, and I woke up earlier than I was supposed to. I looked at the time projected up on my ceiling (1 AM) oh, and I groaned. I had hours to go before my normal turn time, and I did not want to wake Ken up again. But as much as I tried to get back to sleep, it was impossible. Anxiety started piling on top of my pain which only made things feel all the more claustrophobic being paralyzed in bed. But I know what to do during those mad midnight moments. I asked the Holy Spirit, I said, “Jesus, Spirit of Jesus, take up my cause, come shoulder to shoulder next to me so we could do battle together.” Because I know if I’m tempted to cave in to fear or anxiety, dreadful thoughts like ‘what if my pain gets worse’, I’ve got to look at Jesus, I’ve got to remember the example He gave when He was tempted. Three times He went into battle against the devil, and three times He used three simple words: “It is written.” Charles Spurgeon once said that, “With that ‘sword of the Spirit’ in our hands, our cause becomes that of the Holy Spirit Himself, and we shall be as superior in strength to our adversary, as the Spirit of God is to the spirit of darkness.” So, that night as I was lying awake, I felt the Holy Spirit come shoulder to shoulder next to me ready to do battle. And together we fought those anxious feelings. Just as I had hoped, the Holy Spirit brought to mind every promise from God’s word that I could possibly recall, ones I had memorized. From Psalm 46, I said, “it is written...” God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” And then, from Philippians Chapter 4, it is written…” I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” And then from first Corinthians Chapter 10, it is written…”God will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” And then again, from 2nd Corinthians Chapter 12, it is written that God’s grace is sufficient for me. And from Nehemiah Chapter 4, it is written that God is going to fight for me. And then from Psalm 20, it is written that the Lord gives victory to his anointed. What more could I want in the middle of the night? And with the Holy Spirit bringing to mind all those verses, it was like he was in my fox hole handing me ammunition, round after round, bullet after bullet to fire at the enemy. And by what 1:30, 2 o’clock in the morning, it was clear the devil was giving up the contest. The word of God is the weapon that Satan dreads the most. You know, I didn’t develop this habit of memorizing God's Word myself. I was first challenged, years ago, by Elisabeth Elliot when we spoke together at a conference. She understood suffering and she knew the power of God's Word to defeat discouragement. So, I wrote the foreword for her new book Suffering is Never for Nothing and we’ve got it in our online store at joniandfriends.org. So, visit us, would you, and find out more at joniandfriends.org. And, oh by the way, I was able to get back to sleep after 2 o’clock in the morning all because the Word of God was sufficient and the same is true for you. The Word that was sufficient for Jesus is sufficient for you as well. © Joni and Friends
May 17, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada from around the world. I say that because I’m a, I’m a global sort of girl, and I am very excited that tomorrow, our Wheels for the World team comes home from China, having fit hundreds of disabled kids and adults to wheelchairs; we gave away Chinese Bibles, left, right and center, we worked with Chinese Christians to connect these special-needs families (some of them the most impoverished in the world) we connected them to good churches. And when I say that these disabled people are poor and needy, well, let me share something my friend Mark said when he returned home from a “Wheels for the World” outreach into Thailand. He was serving as a mechanic on the team, and, ah, it was all set up in a gymnasium where everyone was working on wheelchairs. He looked up and saw outside an old, rusty pickup truck pull up in front of the gym. The driver, a Thai, got out, flipped opened the tailgate and there Mark saw huddled against the wheel hub a young paraplegic, oh, maybe in his 30s, and he was crying, and his body was all bruised from being bounced around in the truck. The young man should have been tied down, but on the long drive down from the mountains, he had been tossed back and forth against the sides of the truck like a basketball. Mark learned that his name was Koi and he immediately lifted Koi and did a fireman’s carry with him across the gym to Mark’s workstation. When Mark set Koi down, he spotted more bruises and calluses on his arms. Our Wheels team gathered around Koi who explained that those injuries did not happen in the truck. They were different. He said those calluses and bruises were from crawling down a rocky path to the river to wash clothes for his family. It was something he did all the time and he would hold the clothes bag in his teeth, dragging it as he crawled. Picture that, because I can hardly imagine it. I mean, no wonder this, this Koi had such a hopeless look in his eyes. And it breaks my heart that his story is repeated thousands and thousands of times in developing nations where we take “Wheels for the World.” But imagine Koi’s excitement when we cleaned his knees and arms, and carefully lifted him into his wheelchair. Suddenly, someone actually cared enough to lift him out of the dirt. Exactly like Psalm 113 says, “God lifts the poor out of the dust, and the needy He lifts out of the ash heap.” It was like seeing God’s literal word in action. What’s more, we took an hour or so to fit Koi properly to his new chair. And if that were not enough, when we told this young man about Jesus Christ, he immediately recognized hope when he heard it and he embraced Jesus right then and there that day. What a difference – nobody had ever rescued, nobody had ever saved, ever delivered him before. But that day, Christ did. And it happens all the time with Wheels for the World. When Mark got home, he was filled with joy and told me it had been such a big blessing working with the “Wheels for the World” team in Thailand. And then, he thanked me for the privilege of serving. Me? He thanked me? After hearing about his ministry to that young man in Thailand, oh, I said to Mark: “Friend it’s not me, it’s the God of the Bible. Mark you and I we’re nothing but merely His hands to the poor and needy.” So, friend listening be praying for the many people even now in China over the last 2 weeks who, like Koi, got a new lease on life. And pray for many “Wheels for the World” teams heading out the rest of the summer. God bless you for caring. And if this story blessed you, tell us on our Joni and Friends Facebook page. Thanks for listening today on Joni and Friends. © Joni and Friends
May 16, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada here with my friend, Shauna Amick. Shauna, it’s always good to have you in the studio. SHAUNA: Thanks Joni. JONI: And we’re celebrating National Get Caught Reading Month! SHAUNA: That’s right. I’m, I’m excited about this. I didn’t even know there was such a thing (JONI: Me either) until a little while ago. (JONI: Right!) You know, as soon as I heard that phrase ‘get caught reading,’ it brought me back to the third grade when we had read-a-thons (JONI: Yep) and the contest was to see how many books we could read in a certain amount of time. And boy, I can remember as a little kid my teachers just instilling a love for reading in me then and I’m so grateful I’ve kept that with me all these years later. JONI: So…what’s on your nightstand nowadays? What particular book has grabbed you? SHAUNA: Well, are you ready for this? It might surprise you, Joni, but actually I am re-reading this timeless classic, written by Joni Eareckson Tada, (JONI: Oh, come on) I’m, I’m serious. And while I love so many of your books – you know I think of, of course, the Joni book, I think of Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith (that one touched me so much) – but right now I’m re-reading When God Weeps. JONI: Oh my goodness, that is not an easy read. SHAUNA: Well, you know it isn’t, but it’s a needed read. Boy, it was probably 12 years ago when somebody handed me this book, When God Weeps, and boy, at that time, Joni, my youngest child was still a baby, Sarah—with Down syndrome, and her heart defect and all her other genetic abnormalities. And I spent most of my time weeping. And so the title alone (JONI: Yea) is what got me because I thought, ‘Boy, I’m walking around, crying all the time. What would make God weep?’ JONI: Yea, well you know, when I wrote that book, must have been over 20 years ago with Steve Estes (um, he was my spiritual mentor when I got out of the hospital); when I wrote it and people started reading it, some people put it down; they, they just couldn’t stomach it. (SHAUNA: Wow). But the people who really liked that book are the ones who have suffered greatly. They’re the ones who really “get;” they get the message of when God weeps. SHAUNA: Boy, I can remember right where I was even sitting the first time I read it. I just gobbled it up. JONI: Well, it’s, it’s about a subject that’s so tough for people to swallow. How do you reconcile the goodness and the sweetness of God, with the horror of evil and suffering that He permits in this world; even our own suffering. SHAUNA: Early in the book you talk about how we do try to make sense of our suffering. And even in our good intentions of making sense of suffering, they can be self-centered. They can be “me” focused, like suffering helps me understand the Bible better. Or this trial is giving me a better character. Or even, um, God has used this difficult thing to improve my marriage. And in the book you say “Did you hear all the ‘I’s’?” (JONI: Yea, right.) God did too. JONI: Sometimes we get so “me” focused about our suffering it’s like, what does it do to help my faith? Deepen my love for the Bible? Help my prayer life? And really suffering goes a lot further than just, just yourself, doesn’t it? SHAUNA: Well, that’s right. Well, you know what you taught me through that book, and you through the book became my spiritual mentor, is that when we choose to trust God the problem of suffering is not about some “thing,” it’s about some “one”. It’s about knowing our Lord Jesus Christ and keeping our eye on him – not keeping our eye on suffering or even suffering’s benefits, but keeping our eye on Jesus. JONI: You know I learned that truth many years ago from Elisabeth Elliot; her writings really touched me back then. You know, Shauna, her new collection of unpublished works was just compiled in a book called Suffering is Never for Nothing. You ought to put that next on your list, (SHAUNA: I sure will) for which I wrote the foreword I was so honored to do that. And you know we have both books When God Weeps and Suffering is Never for Nothing in our online store this month, so friend listening, if you would like to be caught reading this month, we’ve got lots of selections for you in our online store at joniandfriends.org. © Joni and Friends
May 15, 2019
I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a powerful lesson from Mark Chapter 6. And you know the story well, but we can never hear it enough, start with verse 45, just, just listen. “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and He was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ And then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed.” Now I love this passage because it is about Jesus and the storms He sends our way. And both you and I, what we’ve been through a lot of storms. But when I read this passage this morning, I was struck with these words: “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and row out.” He did that knowing that they would face a storm, and He knew it would be terrifying. Nevertheless, Jesus commanded them to row directly into a tempest. And what touched me especially was that they obeyed. Even when the storm arises, they don’t turn back. They keep heading toward Bethsaida where Jesus told them to go. And here’s another thing: when the wind and the rain began blowing, I mean you’d think Jesus would have calmed the sea from where He stood on land. But no, He lets His followers battle it out in the worst part of the storm, for hours. Remember it was only right before dawn when Jesus finally chose to enter the hurricane and reveal Himself to the disciples. And He revealed Himself in the storm. The point wasn’t for Him to simply stop the storm, and thereby show them His power over the wind and the waves; Jesus waited to show Himself in the storm with them. Jesus knew that the storm, the, the trial was needed so that they might feel their need of Him. And oh, it is that way for us, isn’t it? There’s a peace, there is a, a joy, a delight – not when the storm goes away. I mean, my paralysis is not going away and neither is my wheelchair; my chronic pain may not go away, and perhaps not even my cancer. So the delight is not in the storm disappearing, but in seeing Jesus in your personal storm and hearing those life-changing words, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Jesus says that to you today. “Don’t be afraid. I am here, I’m with you. You obeyed me when I led you into this trial, and I am not gonna abandon you.” Friend, today may this passage in Mark Chapter 6 speak to you afresh, even though you know the story well. Do not expect Jesus to quiet the wind and the waves before you see Him. Wait until you hear those sweet words, “Take courage! It is I. Yes, the wind and waves are here, but I am here as well. Don’t be afraid.” These encouragements are echoed in Elisabeth Elliot’s new book Suffering is Never for Nothing, for which I wrote the foreword. So be sure to visit joniandfriends.org where we’re offering Elisabeth Elliot’s new book, because suffering is never, ever, ever for nothing; you learned that today right here on Joni and Friends. © Joni and Friends
May 14, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada here with my friend, Shauna Amick. And we are celebrating National Get Caught Reading Month. I bet you didn’t know there was such a thing, right? Because there are so many good books out there, so many good Christian books, too. Isn’t that right, Shauna? Shauna: That’s right. And I know a great one that you wrote the foreword to, Joni. Joni: Well, well you are, ok, you’re talking about this new book that has been compiled from the never-before-published essays of Elisabeth Elliot, and it’s called Suffering Is Never for Nothing. It just came out and for any listener who has been blessed over the years by Elizabeth Elliot’s writings like I have, this new one by her is such a blessing. Shauna: Oh, you were great friends with her, weren’t you, Joni? I’m assuming that’s why you must have written this foreword? Joni: Well, I guess you’re right on both counts. I first learned about Elisabeth Elliot; it was 1965 when in high school I read her book Through Gates of Splendor. Now the thing is, I had no idea that right after graduation and a diving accident, I would enter those dark valleys that Elisabeth wrote about. Many of our listeners know that she was a missionary wife. Her husband was speared to death by Auca Indians in South America. And I was enthralled with her story. I then met her years later in 1976 when we were both speakers at a conference in Canada. I was only 26 years old with less than a decade under my belt as a quadriplegic. I could hardly believe I was actually sharing the same speaking platform with this saint of the age. Shauna: I can’t imagine. What was is that really connected you two? Joni: Well obviously she suffered greatly. Her husband was tragically killed. And of course, I had suffered a diving accident. I guess that’s what drew us together. I think our suffering brought us to each other. At the conference one evening afterward, she came to my hotel room. And as she sat on the edge of my bed, we opened our hearts and shared how God had tenderly helped us both where our pain, our disappointment. And I think we connected real fast through our shared experience of deep suffering. And I mean I couldn’t believe it. Here she was in my own hotel room, and by the end of the evening, we both agreed that no one participates in God’s joy without first tasting the afflictions of His Son. And that is when she smiled at me and said (right before leaving my hotel room, she was at the door and said), “Joni, remember suffering is never for nothing.” It was so Elizabethan, and I thought I understood what she meant back then. I mean after all, nine years of quadriplegia had made me take seriously the Lordship of Christ, and it refined my faith, and had given me a deeper interest in prayer and the Word. But man, I would never have guessed that I had still a long, long, long way to go. Shauna: Yeah, like, decades of paralysis. Joni: You’re right, Shauna. And please you know this when affliction is your daily companion, you understand why Elizabeth wrote the things she did: from her I learned that the Bible’s answers are never to be separated from the God of the Bible. That truth has guided me over 50 years of paralysis, and pain, and cancer. And, Shauna, that’s the reason why, when I was asked to write the foreword to this new book of her unpublished works called Suffering Is Never for Nothing. What a privilege! Shauna: And Joni, I hope don’t mind but I want listeners to know that that book is available. So folks just need to go to joniandfriends.org where they’ll learn everything they need to about this amazing book written by Elizabeth Elliot’s own pen, and learn firsthand suffering is never for nothing. Joni: Oh, and please know that we at Joni and Friends care about your struggles, too. Our staff gathers every morning to intercede on behalf of friends like you who contact our ministry in need of prayer, whether it’s upcoming surgery, or prodigal child going astray, write us your prayer request at joniandfriends.org. And then please keep us posted on how you’re doing, and what’s going on. © Joni and Friends
May 13, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a sweet story for Mother’s Day… And it’s a story for any mom who is going through a painful trial, or who still has a thorn in her heart from a past wound. Like my own mother, Lindy Eareckson. When I broke my neck, that tragedy became her painful trial, as much as mine. Of course, I didn’t realize what a broken neck meant. I was just a teenager. To me, paralysis was something that would wear off in time. But my mother knew differently. And so, the painful thorn of my life-altering injury went far deeper into her heart than it did into mine. Over time, though, that thorn sank deeper into me as I began to understand the permanency of my paralysis. And while I was in the hospital, I read a little book that helped me adjust. And it was that Christian classic, maybe you’ve read it, “Hind’s Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. Perhaps you’ve heard of it and, if not, it’s really something worth reading, especially if you are struggling through pain or hardship in your walk with Christ. My mother was blessed by it, too. “Hind’s Feet” is the story of the good Shepherd’s love for a little lame young woman named Much-Afraid. And let me share with you our favorite part where the Shepherd wants to give this lame girl a little seed. Okay, so here it goes: “Much Afraid, bent forward to look, then she gave a startled little cry and drew back. There was indeed a seed lying in the palm of the Shepherd’s hand, but it was shaped exactly like a long, sharply-pointed thorn… She said shrinkingly, ‘This seed looks very sharp. Won’t it hurt if you put it into my heart?’ He answered gently, ‘It is so sharp that it slips in very quickly. But, Much-Afraid, I have already warned you that love and pain go together, for a time at least. If you would know love, you must know pain as well.’ Much-Afraid looked at the thorn and shrank from it. Then she looked at the Shepherd’s face and repeated his words to herself. ’When the seed of love in your heart is ready to bloom, you will be loved in return,’ and then a strange new courage entered her. She suddenly stepped forward, bared her heart, and said, ‘Please then plant the seed here in my heart.’… Then the Shepherd pressed the thorn deep into her heart. And it was true; it did cause a piercing pain, but it slipped in quickly and then, suddenly, a sweetness she had never felt before tingled through her. It was bittersweet, but the sweetness was the stronger. Her pale, sallow cheeks suddenly glowed pink and her eyes shown. And for a moment Much-Afraid did not look afraid at all.” You know reading that I can say that was me. And that excerpt from the book also describes my mother. When I broke my neck, both of us learned that joy and pain go together. Peace and suffering do as well. And Tim Keller has said, “The joy of the Lord doesn’t come after the sorrow. It does not come after the weeping. The weeping drives you into the joy, and it enhances the joy, and then the joy enables you to actually feel your grief without it sinking you. And then you find you are finally emotionally healthy.” That’s what happened to me and my mother. And it’s why, for me, Mother’s Day always has in it a hint of sorrow, but a lot of joy. So, for you, mom, listening who may yet still feel the thorn in your heart, let it drive you into the arms of your Good Shepherd. And when you do, this Mother’s Day may well be bitter-sweet. But the sweetness will be all the stronger. And Lindy Eareckson would agree. © Joni and Friends
May 10, 2019
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Finding Strength in Weakness
In Isaiah God tells us that he created us to make him famous, but how do suffering and weakness fit in? Throughout Scripture God deliberately uses the most unlikely characters to complete his work so that when the mission is accomplished all the glory goes to him. Hard times drive us to our knees, and through desperation we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and his strength is revealed. If we never face fear, how can we know courage? If we never had to weep, we would never know the beauty of having a friend wipe away our tears. God took a teenage girl’s poor decision and turned it into a 50-year mission of love and justice in his name and for his glory.

About Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope is a broadcast ministry of Joni and Friends committed to bringing the Gospel and practical help to people impacted by disability around the world. Joni and Friends has been advancing disability ministry for over 40 years. Their mission to glorify God, communicate the Gospel and mobilize the global church to evangelize, disciple and serve people living with disability answers the call found in Luke 14 to “bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame… so that my house will be full.”

About Joni Eareckson Tada

Paralyzed as the result of a diving accident at age 17, Joni Eareckson Tada envisions a world where every person with a disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ. As the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, she is known worldwide as an author, speaker, disability rights advocate and radio personality. Her 10,000 radio programs are broadcast across the country and around the world, inspiring listeners to realize that there is hope in every hardship.
Joni Eareckson Tada is an esteemed Christian stateswoman and respected global leader in disability advocacy. Although a 1967 diving accident left her a quadriplegic, she emerged from rehabilitation with a determination to help others with similar disabilities. Mrs. Tada serves as CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization which provides programs and services for thousands of special-needs families around the world. President Reagan appointed Mrs. Tada to the National Council on Disability, then reappointed by President George H.W. Bush. During her tenure, the ADA was passed and signed into law. Mrs. Tada served as advisor to Condoleezza Rice on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department. She served as Senior Associate for Disability Concerns for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. The Colson Center on Christian Worldview awarded Joni Tada its prestigious William Wilberforce Award, and she was also inducted into
Indiana Wesleyan University’s Society of World Changers. 
Joni Eareckson Tada has been awarded several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Humanities from Gordon College and Doctor of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. She is an effective communicator, sharing her inspirational message in books, through artwork, radio, and other media. Joni Tada served as General Editor of the Beyond Suffering Bible, a special edition published by Tyndale for people affected by disability. Joni and her husband Ken were married in 1982 and reside in Calabasas, California.

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