Taking a brief break from ‘The Lost Radiotherapy Tapes’ series on this blog, I wanted to include a blog on the contentment experienced by somebody that has been through far greater hardship than I have. Her name is Joni Eareckson Tada. She is someone who has given me a huge amount of inspiration over the past 11 years. Her situation couldn’t be more different and difficult than mine but she has found hope and strength to keep pushing on in spite of her disability.
As a teenager, Joni dived into some water unaware of how shallow it was. She broke her neck and became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. While her friends were preparing to go to university in the autumn, Joni was fighting for her life and facing the fact that she would have to live the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Joni’s rehabilitation was not easy, and she struggled through it for the next two years. She was angry, struggled with depression, and had frequent thoughts of suicide. Her book relates her questions of how God let this happen to her. She participated in various rehabilitation programs that taught her how to live with her disabilities, and says she immersed herself in the Bible to become spiritually strong.
In spite of the limitations that Joni’s paralysis put on her, she found contentment in her life. Here is Joni’s take on contentment.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances... --Philippians 4:11
“Will I ever be happy again? It's all I could think of after I got out of the hospital and wheeled through the front door of my home. Doorways were too narrow and sinks were too high. I sat at the dining room table, my knees hitting the edge. A plate of food was placed in front of me, but my hands remained limp in my lap. Someone else - at least for the first few months - fed me. I felt confined and trapped.
My confinement forced me to look at another captive. The apostle Paul had seen the inside of more than one small room from which there was no escape. For over two years, he was shifted from "pillar to post" until finally he arrived in Rome where he remained under house arrest. When Paul wrote to thank the church in Philippi for their concern, he reassured them with the words of today's verse. Paul became my example in my own "prison;" I learned - and am still learning - the secret of being content. The apostle writes about this secret in Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Contentment in confinement has an internal quietness of heart that gladly submits to God in all circumstances.
When I say "quietness of heart," I'm not ruling out the prison bars and wheelchairs. What I am ruling out is peevish thoughts, plotting ways of escape, and fretting that only leads to anxiety. Contentment is a sedate spirit that finds its strength in Jesus. Contentment comes from many great and small acceptances in life. As the saying goes, when life isn't the way you like it, like it the way it is... one day at a time with Christ.”