Back in the mid-1960s when I first embraced Christ, I would tell people it was all about Jesus, but I had no idea what that meant. Sure, Christianity was centered on Christ, but mainly he was the one who got my spiritual engine started. As long as I filled up on him every morning during my quiet time, I was able to putter along just fine.
Things changed dramatically in 1967 after I crushed my spinal cord in a diving accident that left me a quadriplegic. I was frantic and filled with fear. Oh God, I can’t do this. I can’t live like this! This time I needed the Savior urgently. Every hour. Every minute. Or else I’ll suffocate, God! Suddenly, the Bible with all its insights about suffering and weakness became the supreme thing in my life. I spent hours flipping pages of the Bible with my mouth stick, desperate to understand exactly who God is and what his relationship is to suffering. It didn’t take long to find answers that satisfied. When it came to my life-altering injury, nothing comforted me more than the assurance that God hadn’t taken his hands off the wheel for a nanosecond. I discovered that a right understanding of God’s hand in our hardships was critical to my contentment. I also discovered how important good theology is.
A right understanding of God's hand in our hardships is critical to our contentment. This is so true. Good theology allows me to receive the news that my mother has terminal cancer with peace and trust in His good providence. Good theology allows me to know that a new baby with Down syndrome is for my good and God's glory. Good theology teaches us that any goodness, joy or beauty is only a foreshadow of things to come for those who belong to Christ. This world is passing away. Our hope is not in health, long-life, happiness, wealth, success, nice vacations (yet those are all good things!) But our hope here:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:1-4)
Our longing for heaven should be stronger than our deepest desires on earth, be they for healing, joy, comfort or ________(fill in the blank).
More from Joni:
When it comes to suffering, I’m convinced God has more in mind for us than to simply avoid it, give it ibuprofen, divorce it, institutionalize it, or miraculously heal it. But how do we embrace that which God gives from his left hand? I have found a person’s contentment with impairment is directly proportional to the understanding of God and his Word. If a person with a disability is disappointed with God, it can usually be traced to a thin view of the God of the Bible.
This is true not just for the disabled, but for any of us who are disappointed with God's providence. Good theology teaches us that God is good, God is in control of all things (yes, all things means ALL THINGS) and "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Rom. 8:18)