‘How Can This be God’s Will?’: Joni Eareckson Tada Says God Transformed Tragedy Into Blessing

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‘How Can This be God’s Will?’: Joni Eareckson Tada Says God Transformed Tragedy Into Blessing

 By Movieguide® Contributor

Joni Eareckson Tada recently shared the remarkable story of how God radically intervened in her life, rescuing her from a path of sin in an extraordinary way.

“I was quite the athlete, and as such, I guess I was the least likely candidate to become a quadriplegic. But as far as my relationship with the Lord goes, Jesus was kind of tucked away in my back hip pocket, and I pulled him out on Sundays and holidays and Easter and Christmas,” Tada said on TAKEAWAYS WITH KIRK CAMERON.

“But when I was a senior in high school, I was frustrated with my shallow life in Christ, and to be honest, Kirk, I had a boyfriend back then, and we were doing some stuff on Friday nights that was pretty embarrassing,” she confessed. “It laded me with guilt [on] Sunday mornings. I’d confess my sins, ‘Oh God I’ll never do that again,’ but then the following Friday night in the backseat of my boyfriend’s car, there we’d be fooling around again.”

Tada felt overwrought with sin and guilt. She finally asked God if he would drastically change her life to set her on the right path.

“I prayed a prayer in April of 1967, saying, ‘God do anything, anything. I just want to honor you from here on out, and you need to help me get free of sin.’ And then I graduated a couple of months later, and two weeks after that, went for a swim in the Chesapeake Bay with my sister,” she said. “[I] dove into shallow water, my head hit a Sandy Bottom, it snapped my head back and crunched my vertebrae, snapped my spinal cord, and I was lying face down in the water paralyzed.”

“The next thing I knew, my sister was pulling me up out of the water. I was gasping, sputtering, near drowning, and doctors told me you’ve broken your neck,” she continued. “You’re never going to walk again or have use of your hands.”

Tada felt angry at God. She thought he took her prayer too seriously.

“I thought God was being awfully unfair…but over time, Christians were praying, Christians were loving me, and slowly but surely, I came up out of depression, and I began to ask people, ‘Why should I trust God if he allowed this to happen?’ So it was a good question to start me off on this journey,” Tada shared.

“I felt almost betrayed…I was fearful of turning my back on him because I had nowhere else to go. I was paralyzed. I was sitting in the corner feeling sorry for myself,” she said.

She knew that true hope could only be found in God, and she needed it badly. So she turned to a friend for help.

“I asked a friend of mine, ‘How can any of this be God’s will? Come on, I mean, I thought God’s will was only for good stuff,’ and he said, “Now wait a minute, Joni. Look at what God allowed in the life of his own son, Jesus. He allowed murder, injustice, torture. I mean real torture and treason.’”

“’How can any of that be good in our eyes or even [in] his? But again, you said it: God permits what he hates to accomplish something that he loves. And yes, he hated the torture, the murder, the treason, the injustice that led up to the crucifixion, but the world’s worst murder became the world’s only salvation,’” Tada’s friend continued.

He explained to Joni that just as God hated what Jesus suffered, he hates how Joni is suffering. But he will bring good out of her life and situation.

Tada said, “I said, well, ‘What could that possibly be?'”

“And he said, ‘How about Christ in you? I mean the God of the universe dwelling in you, changing you, turning you from a headstrong, stubborn, hypocritical, self-centered teenager into a young woman who, by his grace, might appreciate something of perseverance, patience, endurance, self-control, bravery, [and] courage?’” she recalled.

“And over time, I began to value those virtues in my life, and I think that’s when I began to find my smile,” Tada finished.

In an Instagram video, Tada shared that her physical pain and suffering have “strengthened” her soul because separation from Christ is the worst suffering. So whatever problems she faces, she finds peace and courage knowing that God has saved her from ultimate suffering.

Today, Tada is a talented singer, artist, speaker, author and founder of the national ministry for the differently abled, Joni and Friends. Her life has impacted millions.

Movieguide® previously reported on Tada’s reflections about her story, which she tells in her book, “Joni:”

“I’m still overwhelmed when I think of the incredible numbers of people with disabilities, specifically, who have been strengthened by the insights I shared in that book,” she shared. “Then I think of how God has used that story to save many lives, I’m absolutely overwhelmed.”

“And honestly, with this 45th anniversary edition, my thought is, ‘Oh God, please don’t let me do anything now, this late in the game, to shame Your name. Let me finish well. Let me continue on this course. Let me not stain your good reputation,” she continued. “You just help me to steward well and to take care of the sphere of influence you’ve given me so that more people might come to know Christ through hardships, especially people who suffer, people who go through hard times.’

Tada’s most recent book, “The Practice of the Presence of Jesus,” just earned a place on the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Bestsellers List. In the book, Tada “demonstrate[s] how, as we recognize God’s presence with us moment to moment, the mundane becomes holy and pain becomes filled with peace.”


Tada previously honored Movieguide® with her vocal performance at the 2014 Movieguide® Awards.

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