I’m a sucker for sappy movies – inspiring, true stories – the more they make me cry the better. Now you know how I spent most of my weekend. I am in awe of how people persevere through adversity. Some deal with tremendous loss of loved ones, some with loss of health, some with circumstance that didn’t turned out as they had planned. In between the tears rolling down my cheeks and blowing my nose like a fog horn, I remembered one true story in particular.
A young talented, athletic teenager from Massachusetts, Joni Eareckson Tada enjoyed hiking, horseback riding, and swimming. In 1967, at the age of 17, she dove into Chesapeake Bay after misjudging the depth of the water and broke her cervical vertebrae, instantly becoming a quadriplegic from the shoulders down. After almost a decade and two years of rehabilitation, religious doubt, and struggle, Joni emerged with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. She shared her life’s story and struggles that became an international best-seller.
It’s hard to comprehend the depth of despair she must have experienced early on. She recounts how her doubts, soul searching and new found faith helped her to become an inspiration to millions around the world. She spent long months learning how to paint with a brush between her teeth. Now her high-detail fine art paintings and prints are sought-after and collected.
She founded Joni & Friends ministry in 1979, later producing a feature film and has written over 50 books. She is married and is a highly-sought-after speaker offering hope, comfort and inspiration to the world’s disabled.
Now after almost 50 years in a wheelchair, Joni says getting up in the morning is still difficult. “I wake up a needy person. I just can’t tolerate the thought of another day as a quadriplegic with someone else giving me a bed bath and exercising my legs and toileting routines and it all just seems too overwhelming.” Then her very next thought is to pray “Jesus, I need you. I can’t do this. I cannot do quadriplegia but I can do all things through you.”
When I think of struggles that Joni has faced, as well as others like Nick Vujickik (Life without Limbs International), I draw inspiration and know if they can make it, perhaps I shouldn’t give up.. What makes us the same is we all need Jesus.
Phillippians 4:19 “And my God will fully supply your every need according to his glorious riches in the Messiah Jesus.”