PASTOR'S PEN: Purpose in pain

One "film" I saw during my teenage years was a true, yet dramatic incident that occurred in the life of Joni Eareckson Tada. Being from the east coast it resonated with those in our area. When she was just 17 years old, Joni dove into a shallow portion of the Chesapeake Bay striking the bottom in such a way that she became paralyzed from her shoulders down. It was a terrible calamity. The film made about her life displayed the emotions she went through during that time; emotions that could have driven her far from God. Instead, she eventually turned everything over to God and He has used this tragedy for His glory.

Forty-five years after that accident in 1967, Joni says that “she has learned things about God and His purposes which are so satisfying and so pleasurable, that she wouldn’t trade her wheelchair for anything!” Life isn’t easy for a quadriplegic, but Joni is victorious in this life. She herself wonders many times how she will make it through yet another day. She wakes up thinking, “God I have no strength for this. I can’t face this ... but You do, God. You have strength. You have resources. Can I please borrow Yours?”* Joni’s tragedy, rather than causing her to sulk in depression, has taught her that real life depends on God.

Christ said the same thing to His disciples. There was a time during Jesus’ life when a close friend named Lazarus was very sick. Jesus was told of this and, rather than going to him immediately, stayed where He was a few more days. During this time Lazarus died and was buried in a tomb. Jesus would later raise Lazarus from the dead revealing who He was and God’s power. But before Jesus took His disciples to the home of this dead man, He told His followers this in John 11:14-15, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” This tragedy in life was going to strengthen the faith of the apostles. There was a purpose in the uncertainty and in the pain.

Perhaps you are going through a difficult time in life. It may be a temporary difficulty or a lifetime hardship. In either case we are prone to reach into ourselves for a solution and, if none can be found, to delve into anger, depression or both. But God doesn’t want you to look for the solution in yourself; He wants you to look to Him. Joni doesn’t have the strength to make each day successful, but she knows the one who does. Look to that same God who has all the power, all the resources and all the strength you need to live victoriously in this life and the next. Give each hour of each day over to God.

*Quotes taken from