If I were to choose one living Christian to meet personally, it might be Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni has suffered greatly in her life, but she’s grown into such a godly and wise woman. In A Place of Healing I learned that Joni is now in more pain than she ever was before. She reports that some days are almost unbearable, and in the near future she may have to give up her active ministry. Despite it all, what a spirit she has – ever trusting God and serving Him with all she has!
This delightful book is chock full of deep biblical insights on healing, including our ultimate in heaven, as well as on living with chronic pain. I also appreciate so much Joni’s real-life inspirational stories and good humor.
Let me share just one story with you as an example:
“The other day my friend Karen flew into town from the East Coast to see me.
No big deal, right?
Well, really it is a big deal. Because Karen came by herself, and she is almost completely blind. With a lot of courage and plain old determination, she got on the plane, found a friend to pick her up at the airport, looked me up, and came to see me.
On the night of her arrival, the two of us went out to dinner at a local restaurant. I had thought she was going to ask her friend to join us, but the friend had to get going and explained she was only there to drop Karen off.
It gave me a little pause. There would be no one to give us assistance at the restaurant? A blind woman and a paralyzed woman? This was going to be somewhat interesting. When Karen’s friend took off and left us, I think the staff at the restaurant was as nervous about it as I was.
Karen, however, was all smiles. It was going to be no problem at all.
Once we got settled, I had to give instructions to my friend, ‘Reach into the back of my pack, get my special spoon, and please tuck it in the little cuff right here on my arm splint. Thanks. Good. And could you put the napkin in my lap, push my glass of water near you where you can hold it to my mouth for me – you’re not going to knock it over, are you?’
I don’t mind telling you that some of the other diners seemed a little edgy watching us get ready for our meal. I saw someone eyeing us when Karen – bless her heart – found the water glass, put both hands around it, and lifted the straw – with my verbal directions – to my mouth.
In spite of ourselves, we had to laugh.
‘Is this the blind leading the paralyzed?’ she asked.
‘No,’ I said, still laughing, ‘This is the paralyzed leading the blind because I have to tell you where your food is on your plate!’
After awhile, people stopped staring. I think it was because they saw how relaxed we were, despite the circus. I also think they were just a little bit blessed to see a blind woman and a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic enjoying one another’s company. And maybe they wondered just a bit more when they saw us bow our heads and pray out loud to the Father together.
It was a witness, and I believe it brought our Lord glory.
He is our strength. He is our courage. He is our enabler; He is the source of our joy. And yes, we got through the meal without spilling any food on the floor or water on the table. (Although I did have to ask the waiter to take my spoon out my arm splint, wipe it off, and put it in my backpack.)
‘Life, my friend, is an adventure,’ Karen said that night. ‘Joni, my disability is worsening, and I know that one day I may not be able to do this stuff – fly by myself and have a dinner alone with a friend. So I’m going to make the most of the time I’ve got and do what I can with what little I’ve got left.’
In the course of some of these recent days as I’ve fought for just the smallest bits of normalcy and peace in my war with pain, I don’t feel as if I have very much left to offer at all.
But in the final scheme of things, I know it doesn’t matter.
He is the one who will make the most of the little I’ve got. He is the one who took note of the widow’s mite, dropped into the treasury, and affirmed that her little was worth more in heaven’s sight than the offering of those who had given much, but had much more held in reserve.”
If you’re looking for a book to give a friend who’s suffering from a chronic illness, A Place of Healing may well be the one. The reader will feel that Joni truly understands what she’s going through, and she’ll be led through some profound teaching from the Word of God in a gentle and balanced way. This book could be life changing.
I agree wholeheartedly with R.C. Sproul who wrote in his recommendation, “To read Joni’s book A Place of Healing is like being engaged in a delightful personal conversation with her. She is honest, bubbly, biblical, sagacious, and devoted to God and His truth. Joni shows us Jesus like few people can and encourages us in our response to Him regardless of our circumstances.”