Joni Eareckson Tada is a mouth-painter, singer, writer, disability activist, and a quadriplegic. But how did she get here? What left her paralyzed? And how did she develop a faith in Christ and a passion to serve those in need? In this video, Joni opens up to share with you her life testimony—from her childhood, to her diving accident, to her faith in Jesus and His plans.
After almost 50 years in a wheelchair, Christian author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada says getting up in the morning is still difficult. “Every single morning when I wake up I need Jesus so badly,” she told, “I just can’t tolerate the thought of another day as a quadriplegic with someone else giving me a bed bath and exercising my legs and toileting routines and it all just seems too overwhelming.”
Her next thought, said Tada, is to pray “Jesus, I need you. I can’t do this. I cannot do quadriplegia but I can do all things through you.”
That decades-long struggle motivated Tada recently to write a new devotional book, “A Spectacle of Glory: God’s Light Shining Through Me Every Day.” Tada writes that those suffering with disabilities can put God’s glory on display by committing to not complaining and willingly following God down even the most difficult paths.
Her struggle is also the motivation behind a new study and devotional Bible. The “Beyond Suffering Bible” speaks to those dealing with disabilities, pain and addiction.
Tada says that for her, life is not getting easier. “As I get older, the aches and pains encroach,” she acknowledged. “I deal daily with chronic pain.” She also battled stage-3 breast cancer in 2010. But Tada says her issues are a good thing because she needs Jesus more desperately than ever. “It’s why the Apostle Paul said ‘boast in your afflictions, glory in your infirmities, delight in the limitations for then you know–the power of God rests on you.'”
Tada became a quadriplegic after a diving accident in 1967 at the age of 17. She founded Joni and Friends in 1979 to minister to special-needs families and train churches to help them.
She and her husband Ken married in 1982 and live in Calabasas, California.