By Jerry Borton
Jesus is known as Immanuel, God with us. He entered our world at just the right time to save us. He also willingly enters our lives to redeem our pain and suffering. He chooses to use them for his purposes.
“I Can’t Live Like This”
In July of 1967, Joni Eareckson Tada broke her neck in a dive off a raft in the Chesapeake Bay, causing her to be quadriplegic. After many months of depression, Joni finally said to God, “I can’t live like this. Show me how to live.”
God did just that in many ways. One of Joni’s friends snuck into the hospital after hours and crawled beside Joni on her bed and sang hymns of hope to her. Her sister Jay allowed Joni to move in with her on the family farm. A young man who worked for Joni’s father spent many hours studying the Scriptures with her. These family and friends, along with many others, entered her world at one of her darkest times.
Sometimes we need Jesus with skin and bones and hands and feet to be with us. Joni’s friends and family represented Jesus to her. God has used their service to bring Joni to the place where she could, in turn, share the encouragement she received with millions of others around the world—and one of them is me.
God Can Redeem Our Pain
I read Joni’s first book as a college student while I was going through a rehabilitation program to learn how to live independently with my own disability. Through that process and the support of many friends and family members, I learned to live independently. But more importantly, I learned that God can take my disability and use it as his platform to speak his grace into my life and into the lives of those around me.
What disability or personal suffering of yours does God want to use as his platform of grace in your life? How can you be Immanuel with skin and bones and hands and feet to someone around you this week?
Jerry Borton lives in Souderton, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Joan. He serves as area director for Joni and Friends Greater Philadelphia.