A Place of Healingby Joni Eareckson Tada
Length: Approximately 6 hours. To read (246 Pages).
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Does God heal today? Why am I suffering? Is there an end to the pain? These are all questions that everyone may ask in their lives, but all the more so if they suffer from chronic conditions or pain. After becoming a quadriplegic over forty years ago and now entering into a season of chronic pain, Joni Eareckson Tada wrestles with these questions, drawing from personal testimony and from the testimony of Scripture.
Who should read this?
If you have ever dealt with sickness or pain, or if someone you love has, this book is for you. Even if you have not, this book is well worth the read to see how God’s sovereignty can mix with our suffering.
Joni Eareckson Tada has been in a wheelchair for most of her life. She is no stranger to suffering or challenges. Still, as she wrote this book she was in a new season of chronic pain. From the midst of this storm, Joni is left to wrestle with questions that are difficult in the best of circumstances. Throughout the books 10 chapters she asks, and in some ways answers, the questions “does God heal?”, “does God always heal?”, “what is the purpose for my pain?”, and “how do I glorify God from the midst of this storm?”.
In the midst of her suffering, Joni is able to honestly and thoroughly deal with these questions. She examines all that has been laid out before her and looks at it through the lens of Scripture and the experiences of herself and others.
The goal of the book is not to convince you to have enough faith to be healed, or to get you to “suck it up”. Rather, Joni uses every circumstance to point the reader and the sufferer (herself included) back to God. Beyond just suffering, this book is about God and His sovereign rule and authority, and how we can rest in that confidence.
As someone who deals with chronic pain, this book was of more comfort than I can describe. It is comforting to know that in the battle, I am not alone. It is also comforting to receive words of encouragement and advice from someone who has come to truly know and love God. It is hard to describe how much books like this are needed, even if it is just to remind others that they are not alone.
More than that though, the book itself is excellent. Joni’s writing style bleeds with her personality. Her words drip with compassion and care. She is quick witted and, with the occasional sassy remark, makes you feel comfortable reading. I can easily say it was one of the easiest books to pick up and read for that reason. It felt less like a book, and more like a talk with Joni. Her words feel personal and welcoming, reaching out to those who with her are crying out for relief.
The book uses a lot of personal antidotes. By doing so, those who suffer get to see that they are not alone in their struggles. Joni uses more than just her own personal experiences, drawing from her friends, ministry partners, and those that her ministry has served overseas. This book provides a very accessible conversation for those struggling, rather than a theological discourse.
This is not to say that it is not theological, but rather it is for those in the midst of the struggle who need to see theological principals applied, not just said. For this reason, it is a great book for those who suffer.
While she uses personal experiences to guide the conversation, ultimately all of her answers are grounded in Scripture and in the nature of God. Throughout the book, her eyes never come off of the one who gives her the strength to continue on. It is abundantly clear that her strength comes from the Lord, and she encourages the reader to look to Him as well. Her message here is one that all believers should listen to, even if there suffering is short lived.
I only have one complaint about the book. When she quotes Scripture, she pulls from many different translations, which is perfectly fine. However, in addition to the translations, she also uses a couple of paraphrases, namely The Message and The Living Bible. I hold to the conviction that the Message is not a sound paraphrase and have many issues with it (which I do not have time to get into right now). I am a little disappointed to see it used here, but it is not used often enough to provide a stumbling block, and the verses she uses it for are fine.
Not many people are willing or able to write a book about dealing with a storm while they are situated in the middle of it, but after reading this book (and others like A Greif Observed by C.S. Lewis), I feel like more should. Joni is able to let her writing cry out and sympathize with those in pain in a way that someone who has already left the storm behind may not be able to.
I am incredibly grateful for this book and for the work of Joni Eareckson Tada. If you or someone you know is in the midst of suffering, or have suffered in the past, I highly encourage you to pick up this book.