C. S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” But our society has convinced us—Christians and non-Christians alike—that we will be content only if we can avoid trouble. Some of the most discontented women I know have the most trouble-free lives! On the other hand, Joni Eareckson Tada has testified, “My paralysis has drawn me close to God and given a spiritual healing which I wouldn’t trade for a hundred active years on my feet!” How could she say that? Because the God of grace has visited her world of suffering, and He and she have become the best of friends! It was trouble that introduced Joni to God.
A few years ago, our church invited Joni to speak to our community. The night before we were to have the meeting, Joni and her caregivers stayed in a local hotel. I called to take her to the meeting the next morning. When we got on the elevator with a large group of businesspeople, I asked Joni. “What subject are you speaking about?” “Grace,” she replied. “But I’m going to sing first.” Seemingly oblivious to all the people crowded around her wheelchair in the elevator, Joni sang “Amazing Grace” right through! I looked around the elevator. Some folks were staring at the ceiling, but most of the men and women were staring at “grace” personified. They saw a beautiful woman paralyzed from the neck down but more whole than most of us in that small box with our bodies in good working order. There were not a few tears as we reached the ground floor and went on our way.
How can you be content in a refugee camp with your husband a prisoner of war? How can you be content in a wheelchair? Only by knowing the God of grace, who sent Jesus to be Prince of Peace and who can give us the peace “which transcends all understanding’ (Phil. 4:7). Anyone can understand having peace of heart when all is well, but it “transcends understanding” when you experience peace in the midst of disaster.
I often find myself listening to a litany of trouble detailed and recounted by Christian brothers and sisters who are in immense pain. I marvel at the endurance and perseverance of so many who go through those deep, dark tunnels of affliction. They do not have it easy. But they do have it licked! Trouble is beating down on them, but they are beating trouble! Christ does that for them, and Christ can do that for all of us. What is more, these people talk of the blessings these troubles have brought along in their pain.
Just Between Us Magazine