True Woman ’12: Joni Eareckson Tada

It was such a blessing to hear from Joni Eareckson Tada tonight at True Woman ’12. At the request of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Joni came prepared with a message on a very important topic… 

Joni Eareckson Tada on Forgiveness

How should we respond to God when we’re hurt?

It is natural to think that God is unjust when he lets evil people run roughshod over us. Some suggest we need to forgive God in such situations. This concept is entirely unbiblical. God is never guilty of wrongdoing and never requires our forgiveness.

2 Samuel 11—In the case of David’s grievous sins against Uriah the Hittite, it could easily appear that God let David off the hook, but He did not. He ensured that justice was done and David’s sins were punished when Christ died on the cross.

How should we think about our own sin?

It is important to remember that no one has ever offended you more than you have offended God. On the cross, the apple of God’s eye turned brown with the rot of your sin. You and I have been forgiven so much.

Matthew 18—the unforgiving servant could see the speck in the other man’s eye, but could not see the plank in his own. We often do the exact same thing with those who sin against us.

Let God be the one to hand out consequences for the wrongs committed against you. True revival will not come in your life apart from your willingness to receive God’s mercy and extend it to others.

All things in this life are definitely not equal. The good die young. The innocent suffer. The wicked prosper. This life is not equal or fair. If it were, Christ never would have died in our place.

When we say, “Christ would have died for me even if I were the only person on earth, our statement speaks less of our specialness and more of the specialness of God’s grace. It highlights the gravity of our sin—that our sins alone would require the death of Christ.

How should we respond when we’re wounded by others?

Joni’s friend Vicky suffered terribly at the hands of an evil man who nearly killed her and left her paralyzed for life. She shared this advice with Joni regarding forgiveness:

Forgiveness brings me closer to Jesus than anything else. It gives me a spiritual bath. Most importantly, it gives me freedom.

  • Release the offense
  • Forgive the person
  • Forget it
  • Love the person
  • Go on with living

Forgiveness frees us to come purely before the throne of our wonderful Savior.

Remember…

It took the most unfair act in history to satisfy divine wrath. Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for the least deserving of all people, you and me, to gain an undeserved eternity of happiness.

Would you let the offenses committed against you go, will you love that person, and then, will you go on with living?

Lord Jesus, I will not be bitter and I will not retaliate. Instead, I will marvel at the sacrifice of Christ on the cross in my behalf. For the sake of Him, I will forgive.

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Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. -James 4:10

Hit the concordance key on your computer Bible software, type in the word “pride” or “proud,” and watch a zillion verses pop up. All of them detail how the Lord detests haughty eyes, boastful tongues, and hearts bloated by ego. Never was there a character trait more opposite of God

In our best moments, we want very much to be like God, to be godly…yet what an invitation to pride! That’s why it always requires humility… 

An old Puritan wrote: “Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of sin committed, as in the greatness of the person sinned against.”

If we’re looking for humility, we don’t gaze inward to see how greatly we’ve missed the mark. We gaze at the Lord Jesus. We drag ourselves to the cross where our pride is suffocated! “Self” becomes “hid with Christ in God,” and humility is the result. 

Asking the Holy Spirit to roll up His sleeves and deal with pride in your hearts, may involve several things (I speak from experience!). It may include opening yourself to the valid criticism of others, openly confessing your faults, or inviting your spouse or close friend to point out your blind spots. Easy? Never! Rewarding? Always.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “A Spirit of Humility,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, May 27 2012

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Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26) 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to say with the psalmist, “God, I am full! I’m stuffed full of blessings and I can’t think of anything else I desire on earth besides you.” Oh, to be that satisfied.

When you become satiated in Christ, it is evidence that contentment has the definite upper hand in your heart. When Jesus says to you, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry,” he is talking about gratification of the soul (John 6:35).

To be satisfied in Christ means being full. Never wanting more. We need not ever be hungry for “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The role of the Word of God is to feed faith’s appetite for Christ. 

Contentment consists not in great wealth, but in having very few wants in this life. A divine arithmetic for contentment is to subtract your earthly wants so that something of greater value can be attained: satisfaction in the Lord.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “I’m Full,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, July 23 2012

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Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. ~Psalm 103:1-5 

After years of quadriplegia, my bones are feeling tired. But whenever I struggle with pain, I pray, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” I force all parts of me to bless the Lord, even my lower back when it’s aching—it’s one way of making certain God receives glory during physically agonizing times. 

Physical pain can cloud our convictions about God’s benefits, which is why I must continually stir my soul to remember them. God has pardoned all my sin, rescued, restored, crowned me with his love, and healed all my diseases. Does this mean the pain goes away? Not immediately, but I have the sure promise that just as Jesus rose from the grave with a new body, so I will one day rise with no more pain or heartache. For now, as Paul says in Romans 8, we groan, waiting for the redemption God has promised. 

Nevertheless, our groans can glorify God! Next time your muscles ache, your head throbs, or your feet cramp, force these body parts to join your soul in praising God: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; and even my sore back blesses you. Every part of me blesses your holy name!” You will be stirring your soul to recall God’s benefits. You will be offering a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15). 

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Praise Him with Every Part,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, July 28 2012

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And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:24-25 

Today’s verse underscores why there’s such a thing as friendship. It’s what we do in the body of Christ. We are to consider think creatively aboutspurring one another on in our Christian walk. Christian friendships are never idle. Our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Lord are either moving onward and upward, or we are diminishing each other. 

We are to see our friends in the light of what God intends for them to become. We must not become complacent or disillusioned when friends disappoint us—like anyone, our friends are fallen image-bearers, marred and defaced by the world, the flesh and the devil. But God is in the business of re-creating them. His goal is to restore His imagethe image of Christin our loved ones.

It is our role to join with God in His glorious work to redeem the people we love, as we encourage them with vision for their growth in Christ (Ephesians 4:15). We can help enhance the “new creation” in them (II Corinthians 5:17). We can push and prod our friends through our prayers (James 5:16). We must never let our passion for our friendships wane because we lose this marvelous sense of purpose. We must constantly consider ways we can spur one another on. 

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Friendship Has a Purpose,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, August 19, 2012

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“I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isaiah 43:6-7). 

Ever wonder exactly why God created you? Or why he placed children in your specific family? God couldn’t have spelled it out any plainer than in Isaiah 43:6-7. He created you and me for one purpose: to showcase His glory, to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those we encounter. 

What does it mean to put His glory on display? It means highlighting His attributes and characteristics. It means making hard choices to do the right—that is, the righteous—thing. It means biting your tongue from gossiping, going out of your way for a neighbor in need, telling the truth even when it’s hard, not snapping back when someone hurts you, or speaking freely and openly about your Father in heaven. In short, it’s living like Jesus lived when He walked on earth.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “We Were Made for This,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, August 3, 2012

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I wait for you, O Lord, you will answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15 

Have you ever had a cup of the coffee they serve in hotel hallways or lobbies? …It’s not the best-tasting stuff and may have been sitting there for hours. Sometimes when I’m traveling, I’ll spot the coffee, sniff the aroma, and often I’m tempted to scarf down a cup. If I’m in a hurry, I’m thinking less about quality and more about caffeine! 

Ah, but if I know there’s a gourmet coffee kiosk at the airport… serving up a fresh ground heavenly brew, then I say, “Hmmm, I think I can wait a half hour.” I know it will pay off…

This is at least some of what it means to “wait on the Lord.” Waiting on God does not mean passive indifference—hanging around and doing nothing. It has more to do with saying “no” to impulsive, spur-of-the-moment actions or decisions, and by so doing, saying “yes” to something you know will satisfy much better on down the line.

Those who have not yet learned how to wait on the Lord may tend to indulge in something immediate that only half satisfies. But Christians who have fostered a degree of self-control—Christians who know God better—don’t mind putting pleasure on hold. They know something better is brewing down the line.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Putting Pleasure on Hold,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, May 2, 2012

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I love thinking of that moment in heaven when God will tenderly wipe away my tears. And, oh, I have cried some tears! You have, too! Ecclesiastes chapter 3 tells us about those times: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: …a time to weep and a time to laugh…” 

I’m constantly reminding myself that days of tears and sorrow have their limit. Heaven is about to burst on the horizon, and your earthly sorrows have profound purpose in eternity. The Bible tells us that He numbers your tears; this means God will atone for every single one of them. And something so grand and glorious about your suffering will be revealed that it will suffice for all your hurt down here on earth.

So when times of weeping come your way, prepare yourself with these assurances from God’s Word. Because, no tear will be wasted. 

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “No Tear Wasted

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They say that I am growing old; I’ve heard them say times untold,
In language plain and bold – but I am not growing old.
This frail old shell in which I dwell is growing old, I know full well!
But I am not the shell.
What if my hair is turning gray; gray hairs are honorable they say.
What if my eyesight’s growing dim; I still can see to follow Him
Who sacrificed His life for me – upon the Cross at Calvary!

Why should I care if times old plough has left its furrows on my brow?
Another house, not made with hands awaits me in the Glory Land.
What though I falter in my walk and though my tongue refuse to talk?
I still can tread the narrow way; I still can watch and praise and pray!
The robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise to seize the everlasting prize
I’ll meet you on the streets of gold and prove I am NOT growing old.

~by Ernest Barkaway as shared by Joni Eareckson Tada in “Gray-Haired Splendor,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, March 30, 2012

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When I used to ride horses, I had a special relationship with my thoroughbred named Auggie. Because I fed him, brushed him, and exercised him, he knew me and trusted my judgment when I guided him through fences in the show ring. It was the joy of his heart to do my will because he trusted my wisdom.

Well, First Peter chapter 4 says, “…those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” To commit ourselves to our Creator is to trust Him; to do good is to obey Him.

Trust and obey! Oh, that we would be like a simple horse and trust the wisdom of the one holding the reins in our lives. If we’d only take the time to really know our Master (like my horse knew me), we’d trust Him and obey Him more easily, more faithfully.

Join me in yielding to the One who holds the reins. 

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Trust and Obey

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So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. -1 Corinthians 10:31 

One early spring day I went to visit Corrie ten Boom, the survivor of the Nazi holocaust who shared her story in The Hiding Place. In her latter years, she lived in southern California. My friends and I were able to help Pam, her companion, learn basic things about Corrie’s disability and her wheelchair. After our short training session, we sat in Corrie’s backyard, admiring her early spring flowers, and enjoying the warm sun on our backs. 

The day was filled with activity, yet relaxed and slow-paced. After we enjoyed the flowers, we went into the kitchen for tea and chocolates. After tea, we read the Bible and prayed. Then we retired to the parlor and talked. I was amazed how quickly the day flew by, yet how peaceful and stress-free it seemed. Pam explained, “Tante Corrie and I never do lots of things at once. We don’t sit outside, read and enjoy tea and chocolates. We space everything out so we can truly appreciate the individual pleasures of each activity.”

That day I witnessed the glory of God in watching spring flowers bob in the breeze, in savoring the taste of dark chocolate, in smelling the fragrance of Earl Grey tea, in listening to an elderly saint pray, and of discovering new insights in God’s Word. All because I lived the day at Corrie’s pace…

Galatians 5:25 says, “…let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Often the Spirit takes very slow steps. Push the pause button and find a way you can slow down today. Enjoy God’s glory in every small thing.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “One Thing at a Time,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, March 16, 2012

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Once when I was on a long flight from Asia to Los Angeles, a woman from an adoption agency was sitting behind me, holding two beautiful Korean babies. I smiled, thinking about those two infants having no idea of the life they were heading into. Within seconds of that plane landing, their lives would be turned right side up. New names, new identities, a whole new family…all things new.

Second Corinthians 5 says: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!” Like those babies, when we first become Christians we can’t begin to comprehend the brand-new world we’re getting into. 

In Christ we have new identities, a new family, new citizenship and—at least in the Lamb’s Book of Life—brand-new names. It’s an unfolding adventure. So today, explore it and enjoy all that your Christian life really means.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Unfolding Adventure

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Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -Hebrews 12:2-3

The path to joy is full of pitfalls, valleys and steep climbs. That’s the way it was for Jesus. But through all the hardships, he kept focused on “the joy set before him.” Jesus was able to endure his cross because he kept in mind the joy of reunion with his Father, the joy of triumph over sin, the joy of all his divine rights finally restored to him, and perhaps most wonderful of all, the joy of being eternally surrounded by the very people for whom he bled and died. This is why Jesus Christ was able to endure the cross and scorn its shame. All for joy!

It’s very much the same for you and me. Our path to joy is full of pitfalls, too. But Christ has gone before us, imparting to us his enabling power to suffer with him. Jesus assures us in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed [or happy and joyful] are you when others revile you and persecute you…Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” And exactly what is our reward at the end of all our hardships? Our reward will be to enjoy God with the same joy that Jesus has in his Father. Oh happy day!

Christians have no reason to be miserable or pessimistic. There is no room for gloom and doom when you’re a believer. If your heart is troubled by pessimism or doubts, repeat several times today’s verse, especially the part, “Consider him who endured… so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” This is the secret to finding joy. Consider him.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “A Hard Path to Joy,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, March 9, 2012

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When Bruises Lead to Beauty

“And we know that for those who love God
all things work together for good,

for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

Has suffering in your life left your soul feeling bruised and battered?

Joni Eareckson Tada offers encouragement to help you see the unique beauty God intends to bring about through your pain… 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! —II Corinthians 5:17 

I once was wearing a favorite pair of gold earrings which were large and square with a smooth, shiny surface. While I was on the telephone, one fell off. When I backed up my wheelchair, it wasn’t on the floor. I wheeled into the hallway to look for someone to help me, and immediately I felt a clunk-clunk. The gold earring was impaled on my tire. My friend plucked it off, but it was a mangled mess. 

I asked a jeweler, “Sir, could you please make the crumpled earring look like this nice one?” He rubbed his chin and replied, “Lady, forget it. But I can make this one” —he pointed to the smooth earring— “look like your smashed one.” It was an option I hadn’t considered. After a few minutes of hammering, I had a unique designer-original: a pair of crinkled gold earrings that reflected even more light than before! 

When God allows hammering and hurting, he is purposing to transform us into something new and different. Like those earrings, we are the same, yet poles apart. Best of all, we are better; we are closer to reflecting the light of Christ because of our weakness.

The jeweler at the mall could turn a flawless earring into a mangled one, but only God can take a mangled life and change it into a life that reflects the flawless perfection of his Son, Jesus Christ. One day the hammering process will cease and we will perfectly reflect the image of our Savior. 

["Mangled Earrings," Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, March 1, 2012]

Photo: Sharell Cook

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Dry times—we all have them…I had one of those dry times not long ago. I couldn’t trace it to anything specific, yet my spirit felt as arid as July in the Mojave Desert. Maybe you can identify.

I know that Simon Peter would. He was weary, had been fishing all day. His back ached, eyelids drooped. All night without so much as a sardine! Yet at the command of Jesus, he summoned what little energy he had and let down his net. One more time.

Do you feel God has forgotten you today? He hasn’t! He is asking you to let down your net. One more time. Keep in the Word. Hit your knees and return to prayer. He’s going to bring you out of that dryness. So be faithful, friend. Trust Him. Wait on Him. Jesus can still fill an empty net.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Let Down Your Net” 

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