Radio Show

Trusting God Through Hardships With Brother Lawrence and Joni Eareckson Tada

We all encounter suffering in life, and Father Dave welcomes Joni Eareckson Tada to offer hope in difficult situations. She is an author, radio host, and worldwide advocate for those with disabilities who became a quadriplegic at age 17 as a result of a diving accident. Her latest book is called, “The Practice of the Presence of Jesus: Daily Meditations on the Nearness of Our Savior.”

Joni explains what motivated her after her accident. “I have been so blessed, even though I went through a long period of depression after the accident in which I became a quadriplegic. I can’t use my hands, can’t use my legs; I’m in a wheelchair. It’s been like that for over half a century,” she begins. “When I discovered the blessings of family and friends and a mission to accomplish – to give hope – I wanted to pass on those blessings to other people who were struggling. That’s why I founded Joni and Friends in 1979.” 

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Her book offers short daily reflections which combine her own words and the writings of a 17th- century monk, Brother Lawrence. Joni recalls loving his collection of letters called “The Practice of the Presence of God” in high school. She says, “[His] monastic duty was to scrub the kitchen floor, the pots and pans, and the latrines. I was mesmerized by the way his faith was so real in the midst of such small menial tasks; it humbled him.” During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joni reread many books, including Brother Lawrence’s letters. “It still ignited my heart; I gained so much from this little book. I would like to share the practice of the presence of Jesus and get a little more specific about how our Savior makes such a big difference in the everyday menial ordinary tasks of life.”

Father Dave asks about Brother Lawrence’s writings, saying, “Just by the title somebody might say, ‘Does that mean we just have to remind ourselves that God is present to us?’ What did he mean when he said we practice it?” Joni responds with a common example from her life. “At night when I am in pain, I could so easily become anxious and fearful. I could let that anxiety kidnap me; I could let it overrule my peace of heart and mind,” she says. “But rather than lie there paralyzed in bed and think, ‘I can’t stand this, I can’t put up with this, I can’t do this anymore,’ instead I invite Jesus into my moment.”

“I’m going to expect to meet Jesus in my pain,” Joni continues. “ I can hardly describe the contentment that I experience when I realize that Jesus has already entered my pain before me. He has already transformed it into a place of resurrection, hope, help, joy and even peace of mind and heart.” 

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They discuss finding joy in the midst of hardship. Father Dave says, “You can speak to the fact that joy and happiness are not the same thing. We can have tragedy, we can have trauma, we can have horrific sadness and depression in our lives, but we can still experience joy even among those. I think that’s hard for people to conceive of.” 

Joni responds, “Joy and sorrow exist on the continuum, on the same line. [Second] Corinthians 6:10 says that we are ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.’ For me, I’m in a wheelchair. I deal with neuropathic pain. It’s so hard; I could stop and cry right now, because it’s not easy. However, this smile that you see on Zoom is not made out of Colgate. This is a happy-hearted smile that is linked directly to my fellowship with the Lord Jesus and my confidence in his word.” 

“I am heading for heaven; My life has been a blip on the eternal screen,” she continues. “Everything I do down here on Earth [in] obedience to him, increases my eternal estate…so I’m not going to squander it. That’s why I can be sorrowful, like, ‘Man, this paralysis is hard,’ but I’m joyful, because I’ve got hope that I’m heading for heaven.”