When Joni was seventeen, she became paralyzed after a diving accident. The story of her accident and recovery became a bestselling book and film in the eighties, and she has been a disability advocate for decades. She has also written over thirty-five books, the latest of which concerns healing.
Why does God heal? Why not? Will he heal if we have enough faith? This latter question is one that has been put to Joni by well-intentioned but misguided people, who have told her that she simply needs more faith to be healed. Her response is gracious but unwavering: “God reserves the right to heal or not … as He sees fit” (p. 41).
Healing is something that Joni desperately longs for – although the healing that she has sought in recent years is freedom from chronic pain, and not so much a miraculous return to able-bodied movement. The pain can be unrelenting; for example, it can take over two hours each morning to get her stiffened body ready for the day. Here is one who writes with authority; healing is not an academic subject to her.
She always points us back to God and his deep love for us. We don’t understand why he heals some and doesn’t heal others, but it’s up to him. I agree with her that God allowed and permitted her accident, but I struggle to affirm that “it was all planned long ago, and God brought it about in His perfect faithfulness” (p. 197). God allowed the accident, but is she here saying that he caused it (because he planned it)? On this side of heaven I don’t think any of us will decipher the mystery between what God allows and what he wills, so here I am content to take a slightly different position than Joni.
Having endured forty years in a wheelchair, and now chronic pain and breast cancer, Joni is a trustworthy guide into the hard questions about healing. As she says, “Sharing about suffering is like giving a blood transfusion … infusing powerful, life-transforming truths into the spiritual veins of another.” Joni does this through her hard-fought words, penned during a battle with pain and weariness that not many of us will have to suffer. Through it all, she points to God’s sufficient love and grace, showing how God can redeem our pain. “But the beauty of being stripped down to the basics, sandblasted until we reach a place where we feel empty and helpless, is that God can fill us up with Himself. When pride and pettiness have been removed, God can fill us with ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’” (p. 87).
One to read and re-read, and to recommend to those dealing with suffering and pain.
A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty b;y Joni Eareckson Tada (David C Cook, ISBN978-1434702067)