April 23, 2013 | The disabled in society are “object lessons for the church” of Christ’s power, Joni Eareckson Tada told a Bryan College audience Monday, April 22, then repeated that message for a luncheon for area pastors.
Joni Eareckson Tada greets guests following her chapel talk on April 22. Behind her is her husband, Ken Tada. Mrs. Tada, founder and chief executive officer of Joni and Friends and an internationally vocal advocate for individuals with disabilities, encouraged individuals and churches particularly to reach out to the disabled to learn what they have to teach.
“I’m convinced that courage breeds courage in all of us,” she said. “When you hang around courageous people, their courage rubs off on you. People who suffer greater conflict always have something to say to those who have less conflict.”
She pointed out that human weakness is a conduit for God’s strength to be demonstrated in the world. She said she wakes up each morning feeling “I can’t do quadriplegia one more day – but You can. I’m not doing it with my strength, I’m doing it in Jesus’ strength.”
The contrasting viewpoint of so many Christians, she said, is the true handicap. “People wake up, hit the snooze button, give Jesus 10 minutes of quiet time, then zoom out of the house on cruise control. They think ‘I have accepted Jesus; I’ve got it down. I won’t shame Your name, but I’ve got it.’ God doesn’t like people like that.”
God gives grace to the humble, she said. “The humble are those who realize their need of Jesus. Most of us are afraid of our weakness. How does God defeat our pride? He gives us suffereing. Nothing draws us to the cross of Christ like suffering.
“At the cross, pride is turned to power and weakness is turned to strength. When you come to the cross and lay down your pride, God sends joy.”
During the pastors’ luncheon, she encouraged area pastors to learn about Joni and Friends and to become involved in supporting and encouraging disabled persons, as well as welcoming them into their congregations as demonstrations of God’s power.