I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Joni Eareckson Tada and her husband Ken. Joni is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Joni and Friends International Disability Center. A diving accident in 1967 left Joni Eareckson, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. She shares her story on the podcast, discusses how to love people affected by disabilities, and provides insight about how she deals biblically with chronic pain and suffering.
Joni is one of the godliest people I have ever met. She is genuine, sincere, and full of love. I don’t think it is possible to feel awkward around her. If you are nearby, she welcomes you like Jesus Christ would welcome you. I want to be like Joni and exude with the Holy Spirit’s love. I’m confident that meeting her for this podcast is one of the highest honors of my life.
I hope you enjoy this 45 minute interview that is personal, encouraging, and challenging. Personally, my favorite part of the podcast is when she sings a few stanzas in response to one of the questions.
The Book of Revelation can intimidate many Christians. The Apostle John intended the book to propel us forward in godliness instead of paralyzing us. I pray these short messages (approximately 25 min each) will peak your interest in the final book of the Bible.
The doctrine of providence is deep enough to bring comfort during life’s most grievous tragedies. Even the deepest cuts can be soothed by the sovereignty of a kind God. Consider the terrible pain of the death a loved one. The doctrine of providence may be one of the only balms in the midst of such pain.
In his systematic theology, Michael Horton begins his chapter on providence by quoting Colossians 1:16-17. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” These verses are packed with the providence of God even though they do not explicitly mention ways in which God works in creation.
Colossians 1:16-17 confirms that God is not absent from suffering. God crafted the world and is still intimately involved with it. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. This means that nothing occurs apart from God’s involvement. God does not watch us grieve from the sidelines. He is present, active and near.
If a couple loses their child, the doctrine of providence found in Colossians 1:16-17 can hold them together. They can be comforted knowing that Jesus reigned as Lord before, and he continues to reign afterwards. He has not left them to face tragedy alone. They can rest in the fact that the same Jesus who created their child is actively working in this situation. Jesus is involved and those grieving are included in the verse “In him all things hold together.”
God is specifically identified in these verses. It is Jesus who is holding all things together by the word of his power. This same Jesus suffered brutally on the cross to endure the curse of sin. Jesus knows what it means to weep and he knows what it means to writhe in pain. Jesus did not suffer in vain, and he will reverse the curse on this scorched earth. One day soon, all that is wrong will be turned right. Until then, let us draw near to him with our grief and have him hold us together.