Our hearts go out to all who have lost loved ones in California due to the Wildfires and also those who have suffered unimaginable loss. We pray they will be supernaturally comforted by the Holy Spirit and God will restore what the locust has devoured. In the face of suffering we can be encouraged by people like Joni Eareckson Tada who has had to overcome so many obstacles in her life, including being in the line of fire in California.
However Joni has learnt to never let worry, suffering or pain define her. Instead she has a huge heart of compassion that reaches out to all who are suffering including all affected by the California wildfires. Both Joni’s home and ministry headquarters were in the path of the fires and she and her husband had to leave their property last weekend, under mandatory evacuation. Fortunately their home and the Joni And Friends Disability Centre escaped the nearby flames but sadly many people have lost loved ones. At least nine people have died, properties completely destroyed and the whole town of Paradise devastated.
In a message on her Facebook page Joni thanked people for praying and asked believers to continue to pray for the grieving families, as well as those who lost loved ones in the recent Borderline shooting. “May God use these tragedies to spark revival in our hearts and communities!” she said.
Joni also posted a picture of the fires saying, “Although Ken and I had to pack up and leave our house last night under mandatory evacuation, we got a chance to snap a photo outside our back window before leaving… “We awoke to the news that our home and neighborhood are OK! Also, the Joni and Friends International Disability Center has survived (the fire came right up to the edge of the concrete drainage and…stopped). Praise God for his sovereignty… And his mercy. We just learned that we have power so we are packing up and heading back to Calabasas.”
Joni is a best selling author and popular conference speaker and an international advocate for people with disabilities. A diving accident left her a quadriplegic in 1967 when she was just 17-years-old. She has been in a wheelchair ever since but that hasn’t stopped her from serving God with all her heart. She founded the Joni and Friends International Disability Centre in 1979 and has served families affected by disability for close on 40 years. Joni aims to provide Christ-centered programs to special needs families, as well as training to churches. She hopes to ignite a passion among believers around the world to reach people with disabilities for Christ as well as their families!
My Suffering Has Not Defined Me
In addition to her disability Joni has survived stage III breast cancer which she openly shares about to encourage others to move beyond the tragedies they have had to face in life. “My quadriplegia constantly clamors for my undivided attention. It’s my world. Then again, it is definitively not. My world, my breath and very being — my identity — is in Christ and Christ alone,” she writes for Desiring God.
Joni is no stranger to fire, In fact has been refined by it. Watch below and hear her extraordinary story and be encouraged to rise above whatever challenge you are facing. As this video shows, “periods of awakening often coincide with periods of suffering for the people of God. The Bible indicates that Christians should expect suffering, for our Lord Himself suffered in this life (Matthew 16:24). This session provides an overview of the place of suffering in the Christian life, reminding us of our need of the Holy Spirit to sustain us as we face personal trials and even direct persecution.”