What Are These Stones For?

“Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18, NLT).

A Personal Testimony by Sharon Bushey — “Jesus is enough for me.”

Sharon’s 3 vases (left to right): Faith Confirmed: miracles, special blessings & answered prayers; Faith Confessed: confidence in what we hope for; and, Faith…Come What May: blank stones for future needs.
Faith Vases
(See below for description)

My sister-in-law Kathie and I watched the conference speaker drop stones into a large clear vase as she told how the Israelites built memorials. Their hope was that future generations would ask, “What are these stones for?” and in response they would tell the stories of God’s faithfulness (Joshua 4:21-24; I Samuel 7:12). Kathie and I decided to buy our own vases, stones, and fine-tip markers. Our stones with dates and brief messages would be permanent reminders of God’s goodness for our children and grandchildren. We also prayed, along with our conference sisters, that our children would see a modern-day miracle that showcased God’s goodness and undeniable power.

Two weeks later, Thanksgiving weekend, Kathie and my brother Wayne stood beside the ICU bed of their twenty-three-year-old daughter. Megan had congestive heart failure caused by a virus that had damaged her left ventricle at the age of fifteen. Would this be our miracle? God knew we needed one.

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By April Megan was in ICU again with her name at the top of the heart transplant list. Glad to be retired, I packed my journal and enough clothes to stay as long as Megan, Kathie, and Wayne needed my support. What I didn’t know was that it would be Megan who would support me and many others on the faith journey of our lives. Although Megan knew that she was surrounded by multiple machines that were keeping her alive, she spoke her motto that penetrated my heart: “Aunt Sharon, through this, I demonstrate that Jesus is enough…come what may.”

For twenty-five days I slept on hospital benches and documented the impossibilities that we faced as well as the calls to prayer. Kathie’s Facebook friends and Wayne’s blog followers, many of them strangers who saw Megan’s TV interview, were drawn to a new level of faith as they prayed and then read the reports of God’s miraculous interventions time and time again.

On April 17, 2010, however, Megan was in a non-responsive state. We were told that she was now too sick to receive a heart even if one became available. We called our friends and followers to prayer.

Kathie went to the hotel to privately cry out to God. Wayne paced around Megan’s bed as he prayed for the blog followers and Megan’s work associates at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel who had just come to faith that week, and for those who were so close to believing in “Megan’s God.” Wayne didn’t want God to ruin His reputation and cause these people to doubt His goodness.

I sat alone. Only the humming machines filled the eerie silence. “Would my mom’s recent nightmare come true? Would my daughter die in a fatal car accident on the way to St. Louis and her heart be given to save Megan’s life? Was I willing to participate in this miracle if my sorrow was part of God’s plan to spare Megan and spiritually save others?” When my surrender was complete, I finally had peace.

Kathie and Wayne rejoice that Megan’s new heart beats like her own, and that she loves her life in Nashville with Nathan.

It’s a long God-story that will be for another time, but after a day of prayer and fasting around the world, thanks to media exposure, God let us see an undeniable, God-given miracle. Megan’s body systems revived, her fever and pneumonia were gone, and a perfect-match heart was received in time. And my daughter arrived safely. During our rejoicing, however, we mourned the donor family’s loss. Why did one family lose their daughter and our daughters were spared? We didn’t know. All we could do was pray that Jesus would be enough for them.

During one of Megan’s post-surgery-roller-coaster days, I read, “Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18, NLT). I was surprised by my unexpected emotional response and the clear impression that my journal was to become a book and then a movie. Eighteen months later, just before Megan’s storybook wedding to the Nashville Christian musician who loved the girl who loved Jesus with her whole heart, the book, Megan’s Heart*, was released.

My next goal was to educate myself for a new writing venture. Halfway through the book, Screenwriting for Dummies, I got so sick my doctor feared that he was losing me. A diagnosis was never made, but for the next three years, I periodically was so weak that I couldn’t even read. Instead, I watched more movies than I had ever watched in my entire life. I realized that I was mentally analyzing the movies and applying what I learned.

Just as my mysterious illness began to improve, I went through several months of severe pain and immobility due to the need for a total knee replacement. Two weeks before surgery when I attended Megan’s baby shower, I was reminded of how Megan’s motto had impacted my life and faith. I vowed to write the screenplay as soon as I recuperated. Jesus had been enough for Megan, and enough for me.

After 6 years of marriage, they were a family when Eilee Megan Kate was born on June 27, 2017.

Then life crumbled. My routine knee replacement was anything but routine. I fainted from pain during therapy; something was terribly wrong. Only a few weeks later, I got the call that Megan had given birth to a beautiful baby girl but had died only hours later. How much more could I take? How could God ruin His own miracle story? How could I write a movie script since the heroin had died?

Nathan, now a single dad, brings Eilee for dedication at the close of Megan’s Celebration of Life Service.

On December 15, 2017, I underwent one of the most extensive and complicated leg revision surgeries my orthopedic team had ever done. For the next eight weeks, I was alone on my couch-bed in the sunroom with only my thoughts to occupy my time. I could only be up five minutes every hour, and pain dictated that I use even those times only as needed. I got a few cards, but almost no visitors; did my friends and family care? My husband cared, but I also sensed his exhaustion and perceived emotional withdrawal as he dutifully kept me fed, iced, and medicated. Did God even care that I was sick again? In the depth of my despair as I cried and yielded all the “come what may(s)” of my life, Jesus became enough for me. I determined that I would pick up Megan’s torch. I would demonstrate through my this that Jesus would be enough…come what may. I would finish that screenplay as soon as I could sit erect!

Megan’s story now became my personal journey of testing. I felt inadequate. The pain made it difficult to think. How could I possibly keep my baby-shower-day promise? I read, “The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears and I have not been rebellious. I have not drawn back” (Isaiah 50:4-5). God confirmed in my spirit that the screenplay was His idea; He would instruct me. All He needed was my daily obedience to write. Through my this, my seeming impossibilities, I would demonstrate that Jesus is enough…come what may.

I remembered the half-read book I hadn’t seen since we moved. I quickly found it in the first place I looked. As I opened it to the bookmark where I had stopped reading years before, I read these words, “Even when the protagonist dies, there is still a story to tell.” This was a secular book, but these were heaven-sent words, just for me.

Richard & Sharon’s 50th Wedding Anniversary August 17, 2018

During these four years of recuperation, I did finish that screenplay, but only because I held on to this promise: “The vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come…it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3, NIV).

During the years of writing and learning to walk again, I became convinced that God wants this feature film to show more than Megan’s heart story and His power to perform miracles. God wants His hurting children to see His love…by seeing our story. What is the greatest miracle? Jesus is enough even when miracles turn into grief. He is enough when grief forever coexists with our joy. God is still good…even when life doesn’t make sense and our hearts hurt to the core. In the middle of the worst that life can throw at us, we can tell our hearts to heal and beat again, only because Jesus will be enough…come what may.

Today I’m walking a new uncharted path as I face the seeming impossibilities of getting my screenplay, Heartbeat…Come What May, to the big screen. And even so, I know Jesus will be enough. You may also be in a difficult situation. Hold on! When your trust is complete and Jesus is enough for you, then together we will spread our message of hope: Through this I demonstrate that Jesus is enough…come what may.

Nathan & Megan’s family participating in the American Heart Association Walk for Life in Nashville.
Sharon’s 3 Faith Vases (left to right) Faith Confirmed: miracles, special blessings & answered prayers; Faith Confessed: confidence in what we hope for; and Faith…Come What May: blank stones for future needs.
Sharon Bushey

Sharon Bushey lives in Lebanon, MO with her husband Richard, a retired minister. Sharon, mother of three adult children and grandmother of seven, enjoyed her years as an elementary school teacher, school counselor, and college psychology instructor. She is now grateful for the writing time that retirement provides. To contact contact Sharon and to request a copy of her book, Megan’s Heart, you may email her at sbushey7@gmail.com.

Personal thoughts about my friend and spiritual mentor

Decatur West Side Church of the Nazarene, Centennial Celebration, 2018. Pastor Richard & Sharon Bushey are second from left, Jeff & Charmé Fletcher are fourth from left.

I first met Sharon Bushey in Decatur, Illinois, when she and her husband Richard became our pastor and wife at West Side Church of the Nazarene in 1988. I immediately sensed a genuine love for Jesus and for others as Sharon ministered to our church family. Sharon’s heart for prayer has impacted my life for many years. Being reunited in 2001, Sharon and Pastor Bushey began attending our church in Camdenton, MO, where my husband Jeff was the pastor. It was such a joy to reconnect again! From that point forward, Sharon and I rejuvenated our prayer partner relationship, emailing each other often with special prayer requests and praises. While Jeff was pastoring churches in Camdenton and later in Belton, MO, Pastor Bushey and Sharon shared their speaking ministries with our church families. They provided marriage seminars, pulpit supply, and much encouragement to us personally. Sharon spoke at a women’s ministry luncheon at our Belton church, where she shared the story, “What Are These Stones For?” Through this cherished time together, my daughter Janée was moved to purchase me my own faith vases, along with stones. Since that time, I keep the jars of faith on a shelf in our office. It has been such a blessing to look at all the answers to prayers and to remember God’s faithfulness. I, too, hope that our children and grandchildren will continue to recount all the answers to prayer, including undeniable miracles in our family, and that they will retell these faith stories and their own to future generations.

Charmé’s Faith Vases

“We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands” (Psalm 78:4-7, NIV).

I’d love to see Sharon’s screenplay, Heartbeat…Come What May, become a movie. I believe that through Megan’s story, many people will discover the power of prayer and will have the opportunity to believe for themselves: Jesus is enough in all situations. Please join me in prayer for this endeavor. Thank you!

Does God allow rape?

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.Revelation 21:4

Personal testimony written by Joy Pedrow.  Used by permission*

 As a victim of rape, I thought the rape was my fault. I did not fully understand that I was experiencing the result of sin until years later. No matter the reason for the rape, it still wounded me deeply. Because of my hurt and pain, I often wondered why God would allow His children to suffer.

my-tearsDuring the months following my abuse, God felt closer than ever before. He never moved. When I cried out in agony, He was by my side. When I prayed with tears streaming down my cheeks, He was there. When I begged Him to take away the pain, He held my hand.

He was there.

Right beside me, holding my hand, and helping me find healing. He was there and He knew this would happen. Even David knew that God was present and active in his life.

 “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began Psalm 139:13-16

 I never would wish the pain I experienced on anyone, but you know what, God used that pain for His good and taught me a few valuable lessons.

First of all, God revealed to me that I did not know Him. I did not know the gospel. I thought I had to work for my salvation. I did not know about Grace. I did not know that I could experience God’s love in an intimate way. I thought God was a big guy up in the sky, telling me what to do, but never telling me why.

God used rape to bring me to my knees, see my need for Him, and fully surrender my life to Christ.

Secondly, God constantly uses my story for His glory. My ministry is built on authenticity and vulnerability. God gave me a story and I share it with the world, because sharing my story brings others freedom.

I experienced pain, but God has redeemed every single tear I cried.

Sin is ugly.

Pain is ugly.

Rape is ugly.

But God is beautiful.

Redemption is beautiful.

YOU are beautiful.

God may allow rape, but He is not distant, uncaring or uninvolved. If you are a victim, He is painfully aware of your suffering. I believe that night I was raped, that God was in the room. He was standing, angry, and pacing. He was MAD.

God HATES rape and will punish those who commit that sin. Read what His Word says about sexual sin:

“In this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8

 I believe that Jesus was there too. He was just as angry. Jesus felt the pain I was feeling. At that moment, the sin of the man who was hurting me was the sin that Jesus paid the price for on the cross. The immense pain I was experiencing as a result of sin was the same immense pain Jesus felt on the cross as the result of sin.

We are not alone in our suffering.

Good news, one day Jesus will bring suffering to an end.

You can choose to blame God for rape, since He allows suffering to happen, or you can blame sin. But if you choose to blame God, remember that He gave up His one and only Son for YOU. Do not place blame somewhere other than where it rightly belongs. We can choose to feel angry at God, or we can turn to Him for peace, comfort and healing. Does anger really help us find healing anyway?

God was present then and God is here now, ready to welcome you home, ready to love you and ready to help you find healing. In the midst of pain, choose to run to Him, instead of from Him, and trust in His perfect love.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed awayRevelation 21:4.

 ______________

 About Joy Pedrow

joy-pedrow*Joy Pedrow is a second year student, pursuing a Masters of Art in Christian Education degree in women’s ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. To know more about Joy, please visit JoyPedrow.com http://joypedrow.com/, where she points women to Christ so he can bring them healing from addiction and freedom from shame.

*Joy’s testimony was first posted by Sue Edwards on Thu, 01/19/2017. Follow this link for the original blog entry on Engage, a Ministry of Bible.org, posted by Dr. Sue Edwards.   http://blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_edwards/does_god_allow_rape

sue-edwardsDr. Sue Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education (Specialization: Women’s Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary and holds degrees from Trinity University, DTS, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is the author of New Doors in Ministry to Women, A Fresh Model for Transforming Your Church, Campus, or Mission Field and Women’s Retreats, A Creative Planning Guide. She has 30 years experience in Bible teaching, directing women’s ministry, retreat and conference speaking, training teams and teachers, and writing curriculum. Married to David for 34 years, she especially enjoys extended family gatherings and romping with her four grandchildren.

Some of my favorite quotes from Joy

When I cried out in agony, He (God) was by my side. When I prayed with tears streaming down my cheeks, He was there. When I begged Him to take away the pain, He held my hand.

 I never would wish the pain I experienced on anyone, but you know what, God used that pain for His good and taught me a few valuable lessons.

 I experienced pain, but God has redeemed every single tear I cried. 

 Holding His Hand

Only God knows the pain we will suffer while living on Earth. I can’t imagine knowing in advance the pain and suffering my children would incur. And if I did, I would do everything humanly possible to prevent each one.

God did know, and planned for His Son to suffer and die on the cross, to redeem the entire world from the power of sin and death. I cannot fathom this at all! However, I know this is true because I have received the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus by faith. Christ’s great and amazing love for me is what takes me through each painful occurrence, with the assurance that He is always with me. Praise be to our LORD and Savior.

 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16.

If you have experienced rape or any other type of severe suffering, I want you to know God desires to hold your hand and lead you to complete healing and wholeness. Like Joy, prior to her rape, you may not know Jesus as your Savior. If not, I pray that you will receive Him now. Please click on this link: https://holdinghishand.org/receive-jesus/

I encourage you to share your pain with a trustworthy Christian (friend, pastor, counselor). God places people in our lives to love and support us when we need them the most. Joy shares her personal journey of healing from sexual abuse on her website at: http://joypedrow.com/2017/01/how-to-heal-from-sexual-abuse/

“You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book” Psalm 56:8.

In the Face of Death, God has a Plan

Personal Testimony Written by Katie Finn

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” James 1:2-8.

Did you know that God always answers prayer? His timing is always perfect and He has a beautiful plan for each person He has ever created.

I was born blue in the face. One doctor tried to give me oxygen but it wasn’t helping me, and another doctor suggested that they check my blood sugar. My blood sugar was extremely low, in the single digits. They found out that the illness I had was rare and only a few children in history had been born with it. The child who survived the longest lived to age 14 and was unable to sit up, walk, talk, or feed them self. The doctors told my parents, in this condition, I would only live to age 21. Throughout my childhood I spent a lot of time in the hospital. My parents and churches from all over the world were praying for me and for the doctors to have wisdom. They prayed that the Lord would work through them.

Mike & Katie Celebrating their Anniversary
Mike & Katie Celebrating their Anniversary

At age 2 the doctors decided to remove half of my pancreas which had been producing too much insulin. I was healthy for about two and a half years and then I started to get very sick again. The doctors discovered that my pancreas had grown back and was producing more insulin than it had before, so at age 5 my pancreas was completely removed. I have been a diabetic ever since. Today I am nearly 30. God answered the prayers of so many people. I have had the experience of graduating high school, college, and am now married! These are three wonderful experiences that my parents didn’t know I would ever have.

God is so good! I thank Him for each day that He blesses me with. Each day is a beautiful gift from God. As I wake up each morning and begin to tear away the paper, I can’t wait to see what He will unfold before me as I open the box. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.

I’ve had some very hard days which have strengthened my faith in God. I’ve come to realize I don’t have to go through these times alone because I have Jesus! I know that there will never come a day in my life that will present challenges that He can’t handle through me. My goal each day is to stay as close to God as I possibly can.

Through every surgery, hospital stay, and seizure, I’ve never had to face it alone. God is there. I believe that He always has a plan. All I must do is obey if He asks me to do something, and trust Him for the results. I’m so glad my life is in His hands. I know I would not be here today without Him!

No matter what challenges you may be facing, know that you don’t have to go through them alone. God loves you and if you will trust Him and believe that He has a plan, He will be with you through any challenge, any sickness, or any struggle you may ever have to face.

About Katie Finn:

Katie Finn
Katie Finn

I met Katie a year ago, when my husband and I accepted a call to pastor a church where Katie and Mike are members and serve God faithfully. After only a few conversations with Katie, I learned of her life-threatening illness and unshakeable faith in Christ. Her desire to please God in all areas of life is demonstrated by her humble and gentle spirit.

Unable to drive because of her illness and having other limitations with her vision, Katie doesn’t let this deter her from living a life of purpose and joy.

God has gifted Katie with many talents, including the ministry of music. She skillfully plays the piano and the flute, and sings beautifully unto the Lord. Katie also enjoys sewing, making many of her own clothes, and preparing healthy recipes.

Katie serves alongside of her husband, Mike, as Outreach Pastors at our church (St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene, KC, MO). They both have a tremendous heart for reaching people with the Gospel of Christ. Mike is completing his bachelor’s in biblical studies degree at MidAmerica Nazarene University, as he and Katie prepare for full-time ministry.

One of my favorite quotes from Katie’s testimony: Each day is a beautiful gift from God. As I wake up each morning and begin to tear away the paper, I can’t wait to see what He will unfold before me as I open the box.

Holding His Hand:

Mike and Katie Celebrating Christmas with Katie's family
Mike and Katie Celebrating Christmas with Katie’s Family

When all seems dark and hopeless, Jesus is there. While talking with Katie’s dad, tears filled my eyes as he retold the frightening hours/years following Katie’s birth. He said the doctors gave little to no hope of survival for their precious little girl. Katie’s parents spent endless hours lifting their hearts to God. And while confessing their anguish and fearfulness, they came to an altar of total relinquishment and trust, by praying for God’s will to be accomplished through Katie’s fragile life. The physicians’ non-encouraging consultations continued throughout Katie’s young childhood, and yet, hope and peace came through an ever-present awareness of Christ’s nearness and faithfulness.

Recommended Reading: 1 Kings 17:7-24 – Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath

 

You can make your own choices, but you can’t choose your consequences.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

This is a true story of an unshakable faith in the midst of great sorrow, grief, and suffering.

After returning from a week’s vacation with my husband, Jeff, I wrote the following in my journal.

“I can’t even imagine the grief, sorrow, pain, and hurt they are going through, and yet, their faith in Christ is secure.”

SAM_1280Jeff and I had the opportunity to attend a pastors and wives retreat in Buchanan, Michigan, at a beautiful facility called The Lodge. We spent four nights and five days with three other pastoral couples and our host couple, Ed and Gayle, who facilitated our sharing sessions.

Prior to beginning our sessions, we sensed a spirit of love and grace within the lodge. We are thankful for our prayer team who were praying for us, along with others. I know now that these prayers were not only meant for us, but also for our host couple.

We quickly learned that Ed and Gayle lost their precious adult son six months prior, through a tragic death. I don’t feel led to share any details, for they seem inconsequential in relation to the deep loss this dear couple has experienced. I will say that I’ve never been with anyone who has demonstrated such grace and faith in the midst of severe suffering. I didn’t mention the second part to their faith journey. Ed learned he had a large cancerous tumor in his bladder just a few months following his son’s death.

Ironically, I heard the following statement twice during our vacation/retreat week, “You can make your own choices, but you can’t choose your consequences.” This was spoken first by our retreat host and the second time by my sister-in-law. Both were restating what they had originally spoken to their adult sons.

I think this statement grabbed me to my core, as I thought of how God allows us to freely make our own choices in life and how these choices will either result in pleasing God or the folly of our own flesh. When we choose to go our own way, apart from God’s direction and leading in our lives, we really are saying to God, “I know what’s best for my life and I really don’t need your guidance or authority to rule over me.” Sounds familiar doesn’t it…the first sin in the garden.

Fletcher 2My thoughts quickly race back to our retreat hosts. Although they feel that their son made some wrong choices toward the end of his life, they also know and testify to the unmerited favor of God in their lives. Throughout our week together, they shared how in the midst of heartache over the loss of their son, they are choosing to hold God’s hand as they continue to serve faithfully in the ministry God has called them to. Their unwavering faith and commitment to Christ brings hope, healing, and encouragement to pastors and wives through Life Action Ministries https://lifeaction.org/. For more information about The Lodge, please go to: http://www.retreatatthelodge.org/.

Holding His Hand

In the deepest despairs of life, God is near. His promises are true. If you are overtaken with grief and sorrow over the loss of a loved one, I encourage you to cry out to Jesus. The Psalmist declares: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18).

For those wrestling with decisions, please consider the words of the Apostle Paul.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:7-10).

“Now my wheelchair symbolizes independence.” – Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni w therapist“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

JoniDad-Beach2_2_jpg_500x500_max_q85
Joni at the beach with her dad.

“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!”

While angry with God and questioning His power, Joni Eareckson Tada’s friend, Steve, pointed Joni to Christ.

Joni believes God’s purpose in her 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.”

Joni with friendsIf anyone knows what it’s like to suffer, Joni does. And yet, throughout the fifty plus years she’s lived as a paraplegic, Joni has given God full permission to use her life to help othersjoni painting and to honor Him. Joni is an artist (painting with her teeth), she’s authored over 50 books, and is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, an international advocate for people with disabilities. To learn more about this lovely woman and her ministry, please check out Joni’s website: http://www.joniandfriends.org/

Most of us won’t experience the same type of suffering as Joni, but everyone will eventually face some form of suffering. It could come through a broken relationship, a wayward child, indebtedness, a serious illness, and the list continues. When suffering comes, we too, have a choice to make… to hold God’s hand and allow Him to fill us with His unfailing love, grace, peace, and power to fulfill His purpose in our lives, or remain helpless and hopeless.

Holding His Hand

“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.”  – Joni Eareckson Tada

Recommended Reading: Romans 8:18-39

The words of this song capture the thrilling perspective Joni has come to know in the years since her 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.

Heaven Your Real Home is one of my favorite books about living for eternity.

Heaven Your Real Home

Another book authored by Joni, Making Sense of Suffering.

suffering

Joni’s Corner: Weekly (Each Monday) encouraging thoughts shared by Joni, and her Diamonds In The Dust video series. See link below.

http://www.joniandfriends.org/jonis-corner/

Holding His Hand story of Joni, and photos are used by permission. Joni and Friends International Disability Center www.joniandfriends.org 

Don’t Fret!

Me & Mom
Me & Mom

“Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them” (Psalm 17:10).

Don’t fret! Right, easier said than done. When facing a difficult situation, I tend to fret (worry or feel anxious). This is often my first reaction when fear sneaks in. Then as I recall God’s faithfulness, I gradually start to relax and peace comes.

Lying in my bed as a young child, I cried out in deep sorrow. I missed my mother, who passed away when I was seven. No one saw my tears in the dark of the night, I thought. That is until I mysteriously sensed a loving hand reach down and hold me close. This is the best way to describe my first realization of God. I continue to miss my mom, but I now recognize my Heavenly Father who faithfully comforts me with His loving presence.

Trusting the unseen hand of God “in the dark of the night” requires a steadfast faith in God’s goodness and an unquenchable desire for the Word of God.

Holding His Hand

“Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.” – Timothy Keller’s book: Walking with God through Pain and Suffering.

I have found that journaling helps me recall God’s faithfulness in my life. Whenever I face a difficult situation, I’ll pick up one of my journals and read how God has been faithful over and over again throughout the years.