On 30 July 1967, Joni Eareckson Tada was paralysed from the neck down when she dove into unexpectedly shallow water.
The months after the accident were agonising, and Joni felt that she would never smile again.
But by God’s grace, 50 years later the Christian author is full of joy and laughter, giving glory to Jesus for sustaining her.
An article on the Desiring God website highlights recent remarks by Joni, who still finds herself thinking “how in the world did I ever make it?”
She says, “here I am, living in joyful hope as though it were sunshine. How did that happen?
“Here’s how: day after day, month after month, year after year, I simply cast myself on Jesus.”
Joni adds that she is often aware of the “overwhelming presence and power of God’s grace”.
“I believe that the more aware you are of God’s grace, the more joy and courage you will have”.
Desiring God spoke to Ama Cruz, one of Joni’s carers, who attested to her faith and dependence on Christ.
Cruz said: “She doesn’t rant or grumble even though she is immersed in chronic pain and cannot use her body. Suffering is her constant companion, yet the Spirit of God is her comforter so she is always gracious. This is an act of the Holy Spirit.”
But Joni wants all the credit to go to Jesus: “Yes, we may show flashes of great strength in dark and desperate times — but it’s not our strength. For those who battle daily with chronic pain or physical disabilities, the reminders of our weakness are even more stark; we can never really forget how powerless we are. But that’s good!”
In the past, Joni has spoken out against the legalisation of assisted suicide, warning of the implications to disabled people.
In 2015, as California was considering changing its law, she said legalising the practice “can lead to abuse”.
“While meant to apply to terminal illness, the definition of such is often murky and those with significant disabilities may be pressured by insurers, and even families, into believing it is their ‘duty to die’.”
She added: “A life is of infinite worth and there is value to us and those around us in our suffering”.
“I fear we are trying to put ourselves in God’s place to determine when a life should end. As our Creator, it is His call and His alone.”