A Victory Through Suffering

Written by Joni Eareckson

One hot July afternoon in 1967, I dove into a shallow lake and my life changed forever. I suffered a spinal cord fracture that left me paralyzed from the neck down, without use of my hands and legs. Lying in my hospital bed, I tried desperately to make sense of the horrible turn of events. I begged friends to assist me in suicide. Slit my wrists, dump pills down my throat, anything to end my misery!

Paralysis was God’s plan?

I had so many questions. I believed in God, but I was angry with Him. How could my circumstance be a demonstration of His love and power? Surely He could have stopped it from happening. How can permanent, lifelong paralysis be a part of His loving plan for me? Unless I found answers, I didn’t see how this God could be worthy of my trust.

Steve, a friend of mine, took on my questions. He pointed me to Christ.

Now I believe that God’s purpose in my accident was to turn a stubborn kid into a woman who would reflect patience, endurance and a lively, optimistic hope of the heavenly glories above.

A new perspective

My wheelchair used to symbolize alienation and confinement. But God has changed its meaning because I have trusted in Him. Now my wheelchair symbolizes independence. It is a choice I made and one that anyone can make.

I have discovered many good things that have come from my disability. I used to think happiness was a Friday night date, a size 12 dress, and a future with Ethan Allen furniture and 2.5 children. Now I know better. What matters is love.

Good things for the future

I live with the heightened awareness that better things are coming. The good things in this life are only a foreshadowing of more glorious, grand things in heaven.

The words of this song capture the thrilling perspective that I have come to know in the years since my accident:

I rejoice with him whose pain my Saviour heals.
And I weep with him who still his anguish feels.
But earthly joys and earthly tears are confined to earthly years,
And greater good, the Word of God reveals.
In this life we have a cross that we must bear;
It’s just a tiny part of Jesus’ death that we can share.
And one day we’ll lay it down, ’cause He’s promised us a crown
To which our suffering can never be compared.

That’s why Heaven is nearer to me, and at times it is all I can see.
Sweet music I hear, coming down to my ear,
And I know that it’s playing for me.
For I am Christ the Saviour’s own bride,
And redeemed I shall stand by His side.
He will say, “Shall we dance?” and our endless romance
Will be worth all the tears I have cried.

Take a look at your life. How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

Is this the life for you?

If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.

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16 Responses to “A Victory Through Suffering”

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    Hi Joni,
    I really appreciate that song you quoted! Personally, my suffering was an addiction to pleasing myself, as I backslid for 21 years. I knew not all was well, so I prayed that God show me where I was: HE gave me a dream in which I was on my way to hell. That shook me up! I prayed with tears daily after work, kneeling by my bed, for a week till I felt refreshed. Then a friend invited me to a Full Gospel Business Men’s meeting, where I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. What a thrill! First Jesus washed me clean, and then the Holy Spirit filled me with love, joy, and power to serve Him! That was in 1982, and God has been able to use me in various ways. I believe that the farther a person has fallen, the higher he/she will allow God to lift one. That is, the more we have been forgiven, the more thankful we are!
    Now, a word to Roberta: The words, “It came to pass…” actually means that it did not “come to stay” but to pass, till Jesus ushers us into His Kingdom. Our existence here is temporary, and is a testing ground during which we are prepared for eternity. We are the hands feet and mouth of God, through which He works to build His Church. You and I are privileged to be a part of that building process!
    Praising my Lord, Alfred.

  • Joni, I have your album, “Joni’s Song”. I just dicovered it tonight. I collect Vinyl records and evidently these were records that I had puchsed in bulk and had not sorted through them.
    After reading the back cover and seeing your photo, I had to look you up on the internet to learn more about you.
    Your mishap was absolutely no accident, It was exactly the plan for your life, Just look @ what God used you to create. He used you as an instrument to provide for others what was needed.
    Thank you for following the plan that he laid out for your life.
    I am a white guy and I have known one black man that I can truly say was my real friend in my
    life. His name was Tony Wakefield. His mother is also my friend.
    Tony was a paraplegic and I met him when I was in college. After I met him I learned that he that Tony only Lived 2 blocks from me.
    We were both computer science majors and became close friends.
    Tony was quite an individual and I really looked up to him like a brother.
    Tony was an army brat, his dad was stationed in japan and that is where Tony lived until he was about 12. His dad was then transferred to San Antonio where Tony lived until moving to N.Texas.
    Tony was a Brown Belt in Tai Kwon Do by the time he was about 10 years old when living in Japan.
    When in San Antonio, Tony was a baseball pitcher, at age 15, just before moving, his team was playing in the state championships and Scouts for the Professional baseball team St.Lewis Cardinals were there to see him pitch. They measured the speed of his fastball @ 94 mph. Tony was just 15 years old. The Scouts told his father that they wanted Tony in Spring Training when he graduated from high school.
    They then moved from San Antonio, Tony was playing on the Jr varsity high school football team that fall, he was 16. Tony was a linebacker and punter. Tony conciststently averaged 45 yards per punt. The varsity team wanted him to be thier punter so they moved him to the Varsity practice squad, he continued to play linebacker also.
    Tony told me that he was trying to impress the coaches so he could become a starter @ linebacker on the varsity team.
    Tony got his chance to show the coaches his intensity and put a hit on the ball carrier and broke his back. The other players tried to help Tony up, not realizing that his back had been broken, and it severed his spinal chord when they stood him up. Not only was Tony’s back broken but the player that he had tackled sustained a broken hip. Like you Joni, Tony was paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life. I am almost in tears just telling you about my friend.
    Tony lived a full life, graduated from the univeristy with a computer science degree. A christian and choir member. Taught computer classes at the high school that he had played football for and coached basketball at the Jr high school. The year before he passed he got married. Tony was about 42 when he died from pneumonia.
    What was really sad was that Tony’s Dad and Mom divorced not long after Tony’s mishap. Tony felt like his condition was the blame for thier divorce. He told me that his Dad had counted so much on him pithcing for the St. Lewis Cardinals.
    I was honored that Tony considered me a close friend and had chosen to share that with me.
    Tony’s mother is the sweetest and kindest lady that you could ever know. She taught special education at the middle school until she retired. She made sure that Tony had everything that he needed.
    I miss my friend but I am happy that he is in Heaven with my Mother, Father, and oldest Brother Robert now.
    I will add you and Roberta Simmonds to my prayer list.
    Take Care Joni,
    RJ

  • For Roberta Simmonds:
    When I 16 years old a car hit me head on, I was on a motorcycle. My helmet flew off and I smashed the hood of the car with my head and landed on a concrete drivevay. The owner of this driveway was a nurse and was arriving home when this happened. she did cpr and put my billfold in my mouth to prevent me from swallowing my tounge, She Saved My Life, her name was Mrs Romera,
    I had brain damage to both sides of my head, cracked pelvis, broken femur, thumbs, and was paralyzed in my right side. I had trouble talking also when I woke up six days later. So they say, I never new that I was still alive until they took me out of ICU and they reduced my pain medication 3 weeks after the accident.
    By the time that I was 21 I had regained most of my coordination but there are some things that I could never do again. Basketball for example, I was a good Basketball player before the wreck but can’t shoot a ball for beans now. A nerve was cut in my eye when my skull had cracked. My brain damage was to the front and both sides of my head. I was told that my head was swollen as big a basketball… no pun intended. :)
    My paralysis is still evident today at times but has mostly gone… I have also had multiple back surgeries. Have had multiple psyhciatric hospitalizations and I have a not been able to establish a lasting longterm relationship therefore I have no children. Divorced twice. I will be 59 in a few days.
    What I have been able to do. I have 2 college degrees, post grad work and was instrumental in helping other people turn their lives in a positive direction.
    I accepted Christ as my Lord & Savior as soon as I was able to goto church after the wreck becaise I knew without a doubt that there was something greater than myself that had intervened the day that I had that wreck. I knew it was God, there was no other possible explanation for me to be alive.
    I don’t know the circumstances of your injury but I do know that you have 2 angels who are with you right now and will be with you until they take you to heaven to be with the lord.
    They have been with you since the day you were born and will never leave you.
    There is a reason for everything that happens in this world…. There are no Accidents.
    You will be ok… It will take time. but you will be ok.
    I think that I suffer from ptsd as a result of that wreck and hospitalization.
    You might want to talk to your social worker about getting some counseling to help you process what has happened to you.
    I am praying for you Roberta Simonds. I am not the only one praying for you. The Unity Church is praying for you non-stop 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 366 days on leap year. They are praying for me also along with everynody else in the world…. 24 hours a day, every second and minute nonstop.
    There are Good people in this World and You will find them and You are going to be OKAY.
    You are Loved. God is going to guide the right people into your life.

  • shelley anderson shelley anderson says:

    I want to pray for you my friend.
    Lord I lift up my friend to You at this time as he is struggling with this head injury. I pray for You to come to him even though he knows You as His saviour. Lord I pray as he is seeking Your presence that You will heal him in all areas of his life.
    In Jesus Mighty Name Amen

  • Roberta Simmonds says:

    please pray for me.. I have suffered a brain injury its affected my memory my mobilty and lots of differnt parts of life… I have not recieved the right treatment and am really needing Gods strengh.. I am wating for more testing i may have a brain tumror.. I get much pain and pressure behind my eyes and sinuses.. also my balance is affected… I have little support and am really strugling.. I dont really know what to do next.. I have no family support either

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article joni– i bave followed you for a while now. even though we are stuck in life, it is only through God through people that we can be unstuck, i have see3n that in own life, i was stuck for the longest time and through people that God sent into my life did i get unstuck.

  • Shelley says:

    Dear Joni:

    Thank you for sharing your struggles. I also understand what it’s like to struggle, fearful of their next day but I don’t believe we should be stuck in our circumstances but give back. Like you do Joni.

    Blessings …Shelley Moore

  • Shelley says:

    I have suffered a tramatic brain injury for 31 years. I believe the Lord has helped me with overcoming my disability by getting rid of myself and helping others who are worse off than me. This healing only comes from the Lord.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article– God through the church i am attending, the people did just that i got victory over suffering that i had for quite a few years, i was in depression from my owrld caving in from people who died and other sad thing in my life God healed me.

  • Caleb says:

    Hi Joni, I was recently diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease, I am 20 years old, and I just want you to know that through my faith and salvation with Christ, I have been able to get over this “disease” and find the joy in the Lord He intended for me to have. I would never take back the disease because it has shown me how great and powerful Christ truly is! God Bless you!

  • Lawrence Rae says:

    I have suffered since 1992 with trigeminal neuralgia. I have come into a greater understanding of pain and suffering in those years than all the years beforehand. I am full of joy and I know the ‘healing’ power of God while I suffer greatly on a daily basis. God has come alongside me to empower my life in the middle of it all. One day I will have a new nervous system, meanwhile the Presence of God is my portion to keep me from discouragement and from quitting.

  • Patt Murphree says:

    on a mtn.top season in my life. woke up Sun. oct. 30th @ 5:40a.m. to Joni’s speaking on TV! Ah-ha just what God ordered! I am now 51 yrs.old. In 1996 @36, God allowed me 2 have a brain tumor in the brain stem. With 3 months to live, my then husband and I had to make a decision whether to get a second opinion or have the surgery right away. Well as young christains, we prayed and God gave the okay for the surgery to be done by the first doctor (after my orthopedic doctor diagnosed)we were sent to ……..tired but will be back for advice on God’s calling…

  • moses erie says:

    no pain no gain or more pain more gain

  • Johnny James says:

    Dear Joni,

    I hope that this finds your well on your way to recovery! “I, the LORD, am
    your healer.”

    Joni, there’s a family here in Longview, TX, that really needs your touch of
    encouragement. JOSH WASSON is a 20 year old man, who was involved in a dune
    buggy accident last evening a week ago. Number 4 vertebrae in his neck was
    shattered. A replacement was installed. BUT he is left parapeligic, barring
    a Divine miracle.

    As expected Josh is going through the cycle of shock and anger. And not very
    well. His mom can’t get him to eat. He’s very anxious.

    Will you, PLEASE, prayfully consider calling him and his family? He is in
    Room 1607, Good Shepherd Medical Center, Longview. The number to his room is
    903 315 1607. His mom’s cell number is 903 261 5106. The switch board is turned of at 9 pm CDT.

    No to put undue pressure on you, but since this message was started, Deb
    called. I told her what I was doing. She was very excited. Now, Joni, I
    understand that you are recovering from cancer surgery and that you very well
    might not feel up to making the call until you’ve regained your strength..And I told Deb this.

    Thank you and GOD BLESS YOU!

    Johnny James

    PS The Wassons are Christians! An added note: it was 27 years ago to the
    day the Don Wasson, Josh’s dad, was in a car wreck. The results of his injury
    left him a parapeligic.
    understand!

  • Mapaseka Ntsane says:

    Stay there to trust God. Check my story at http://www.maluti-nurse.blogspot.com

  • Tim says:

    heya Joni

    thanks for sharing some of your struggles. i’ve read your story and we share a similar path. i have a disability myself, (cerebreal palsy toi be exact) and recently God’s pointed me in the direction of working with special needs individuals. but its something i struggle with. i wonder if it is a case of type casting or gifting. im curious if you’ve struggled with the same thing while starting Joni and friends? care to share any advise/ tips?, blessings, Tim

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