Joni by Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni

post written by Esther Filbrun

Joni by Joni Eareckson TadaTitle: Joni
Author:
Joni Eareckson Tada
Major Themes: Accidents, Faith, Quadriplegia
Synopsis:
Joni Eareckson’s life has been altered forever due to a diving accident, and she must learn to have faith in God all over again.

There are some biographies that you read, and then set aside saying “that was good; I enjoyed learning about that person, but I doubt I’ll read it again.” Others, however, grip your fascination, and you come away feeling incredibly blessed by the lessons you learned from one person’s life. Such is the case with Joni, the memoir of the very famous Joni Eareckson Tada. I borrowed it several months back from a friend, and recently pulled it off the shelf. Even though the story itself is gripping, one thing that I really appreciated the most was Joni’s absolute honesty. She didn’t try to smooth over the rough bits—she said them as they are, and even though at times it could almost be too much, seeing things realistically was a huge blessing to me.

From the moment of her diving accident on, Joni knew her life could be changed forever. As a seventeen-year-old staying in the ICU (intensive care unit), she was terrified of death—several other people around her with similar cases died while she was in there. Somehow, she survived, and after quite a while she was moved to a home for therapy. However, she was paralyzed from the neck down, and little could be done to help her. Struggling with thoughts of suicide, and feeling helplessly unable to do it herself, she sought for meaning to the suffering she was forced to endure day after day. Some told her Jesus still had a good and perfect plan in this; others were more skeptical and wondered if the teachings of atheists wouldn’t make more sense in the face of utter ruin. Can she ever find true purpose and happiness in life again—even if she’ll be forced to rely on someone else for her every need?

Tracing her struggles from faith to deepest darkness and back again was powerfully moving for me. Even though I really can’t even begin to relate to what it must be like to be a quadriplegic, Joni does her best to share what it’s like to “wear” her shoes. And in her doing so, being completely honest with her struggles and triumphs, helps me to see that even in the trouble I may have at times, God is still in control—whether it’s believing that He will reveal the next step in His time, or simply trusting that He has done His best for my life in the past. Joni’s story is faith-enriching, and that’s only because she’s been through the purifying fires herself. I came away feeling blessed to have been able to get a glimpse of her life, an example of courage and trust that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from this book:

We aren’t always responsible for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. However, we are responsible for the way we respond to them. We can give up in depression and suicidal despair. Or, we can look to a sovereign God who has everything under control, who can use the experiences for our ultimate good by transforming us to the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

I believed that if God took something away from me, He would always replace it with something better. My experience had taught me this as I relied on the sovereignty of God. ‘Delight thyself in God,’ the psalmist said, ‘trust in His way.’ As I did so, it became easier to express true gratitude for what He had brought into my life—good as well as suffering.

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