Greg Koukl, Peter Kreeft, and Joni Eareckson Tada all appear in this short film on suffering. Joni, who was paralyzed in a diving accident at the age of 17, has this to say about her suffering over the decades:
There are a lot of people who think I’m a strong person, and I’m not. I am such a weak person…. But when I start to feel overwhelmed, I’ll say, “Oh God, I have no strength for this day, but you do. I have no resources, but you do. May I please have your resources? May I please have your strength? I can do all things through you if you strengthen me. Please let me borrow your smile for the day.” And honestly, before the morning has hardly begun, I’ve already got a perspective on the day. I’ve already got peace in my heart and a mission to accomplish. And it’s because I’ve been pushed up against God, and God has shown me some deep things about His purpose and Himself that, for me, are so satisfying, so pleasurable, I wouldn’t trade the wheelchair for anything….
God is a God of intention. He’s got a purpose, a meaning, and everything He puts His hand to is brimming with intention and meaning. So we can rest assured that although the purposes for suffering might be hidden from us in this present life, His reasons are always wise, they’re always specific, and they’re always good.
For now, we trust that He does have reasons. We trust because He has proven Himself to be trustworthy. That doesn’t erase the pain, but it does give it meaning, even if we never discover the particular purpose of a particular pain in this life. We trust for now, and we look forward to the day when seeing Him face-to-face brings an end to all our suffering.
I’ve always been in awe of people like Joni Eareckson Tada. What must she know about God through her suffering that would cause her to say she wouldn’t trade her wheelchair for anything? That is the God I want to know.