By Joni Eareckson Tada
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
I can identify with this verse. In the early years of my paralysis, when I was squirming to get back on my feet, I looked at my wheelchair and “pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” To make a long story short, I got the same response the apostle Paul received. Like his “thorn in the flesh,” my condition remained chronic.
Why chronic? Why do some hardships never go away? The hurting and hammering process I spoke about yesterday won’t end until we become completely holy (and there’s no chance of that happening this side of eternity). This is why I can more easily accept my paralysis as a chronic condition. When I broke my neck, it wasn’t a jigsaw puzzle I had to solve fast, nor was it a quick jolt to get me back on track. My diving accident was the beginning of a long, arduous process of becoming like Christ. Sure, there are times I wish it were easier, but I realize I’m far from perfect. I have a long way to go to be made like Christ, polished and complete in his image.
The grace of God mentioned in our verse today is enough to sustain us through hardships that hang around. God’s grace—the desire and the power to do his will—is sufficient. “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (Heb. 12:12-13). Health and wholeness, maturity and completeness will be mine one day. The hammer and chisel will be laid down once and for all!
James 1:2-4 is our advice for the day: “When all kinds of trials crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed” (PHILLIPS).
Lord Jesus, help me to accept those conditions in my life that are chronic, whether in my marriage, my family, or my health. Give me grace for the long haul knowing that the ending will be happy beyond my wildest dreams.