The PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly aired an interview with Joni Eareckson Tada last Friday that serves as a great reminder of how we can pray for her during this incredibly difficult time in her life. Although Joni continues to evidence tremendous faith in God’s goodness and sovereignty, she also speaks very candidly about how challenging this battle against breast cancer has been. The following is an excerpt from Joni’s interview with Kim Lawton:
LAWTON: Tada is open about her struggles. Just getting out of bed in the morning is a two-hour ordeal. A series of friends come in and help get her ready for the day.
EARECKSON TADA: And there are many days, honestly, when I can hear my girlfriends come into the front door, and they’re running water for coffee in the kitchen. I know they’re going to be in my bedroom in a few minutes with a happy hello, and I just don’t have the strength to welcome them, and so while they’re still in the kitchen I’m praying oh, God, I have no strength for this day, but you do.
LAWTON: Tada talks often about the reality of suffering—a difficult message in what she calls America’s culture of comfort.
EARECKSON TADA: We want to erase suffering out of the dictionary. We want to eradicate it, avoid it, give it ibuprofen, institutionalize is, divorce it, surgically exorcise it, do anything but live with it.
LAWTON: Even after all these years in the wheelchair, she says some fellow evangelicals still tell her if she had more faith God would heal her.
EARECKSON TADA: But sometimes healing doesn’t come, and you’ve got to live with it, and when you do you really do learn who you are. God uses suffering. He lobs it like a hand grenade and blows to smithereens these notions we have about our self and who we think we are. Blows it to smithereens until we are left raw, naked, and we have to let suffering do its work.
LAWTON: These days it seems like there is a lot of that work. After breast cancer surgery, Tada is undergoing chemotherapy, which has siphoned off much of her trademark vitality.
EARECKSON TADA: It is very hard to go on. I mean privately I’ve wondered, gee, Lord, is this cancer my ticket to heaven? Because I sure am tired of sitting in a wheelchair, and my body is aching, and I’m so weary. Could this be my ticket to heaven?
LAWTON: Her motivation for persevering, she says, is all the people she’s able to help.
EARECKSON TADA: I need a reason to get up in the morning, and my big reason is to help other families like mine, other people with disabilities, other special needs moms and dads, to encourage them and strengthen them, to help them want to face life head on.
LAWTON: She says she won’t allow herself to spiral into doubt and despair.
EARECKSON TADA: I’m not going to go there. I’m not going to go there. I went down that dark, grim path when I was a teenager and first broke my neck and wanted my girlfriends to bring in razors to slit my wrists or their mother’s sleeping pills or whatever. I’m not going to go down that path again. It’s too horrible…
LAWTON: I asked her a question she’s been asked over and over again: How can you just keep believing in a God that would let all that happen?
EARECKSON TADA: I pray a lot, and I sing a lot. I sing because I have to sing. There’s something good about talking to yourself, reminding yourself of things you believed in the light but you’re so quick to doubt in the darkness. And I’ve seen too much of the light to not choose the Lord.
You can watch the video interview with Joni HERE.
Please continue to pray for Joni and consider encouraging her with a comment on her blog. She speaks often of how blessed she has been by reading the comments posted at Joni’s Corner.
Photo: Joni and Friends