After a bizarre accident left Joni Eareckson Tada a quadriplegic, she fell into a dark depression. But in her weakest moment, God showed her she already had all the strength she needed. Here, Joni talks about how weak she feels on some days, but how Jesus gives her the strength to persevere.
On July 30, 1967, Joni and her sister, Kathy, had been enjoying a beautiful summer day at Chesapeake Bay, when Joni swam to a raft anchored several yards from the shore. “I thought the water was deep enough, so I dove off,” she recalls. “In a flash, I knew I’d made a big mistake.” With a crunch, Joni hit her head on the bottom of the shallow bay, breaking her neck between her fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae and severing her spinal cord. She was paralyzed instantly.
Joni had floated helplessly in the water, unable to swim or call for help. “Kathy had been heading back to the beach, so I knew she hadn’t seen me dive in, but suddenly she was bitten on the toe by a crab,” Joni says. Kathy had turned around to warn Joni about the crabs when she spotted her floating facedown. “If it hadn’t been for that crab, I would’ve drowned,” she says. “I didn’t know God then, but now I see that He was there all along.”
Despite her blessings and constant thankfulness, Joni is quick to point out she’s not without struggle. “Quadriplegia is never going to be easy, so when people comment about how strong they find me, I’m quick to say I’m not strong,” she notes. “When I wake up and can’t stand one more day of someone dressing me and doing my toiletry routines, I cry, ‘Jesus, I can’t do this!’ But then, like the Philippians 4:13 says, I realize I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. I need Him desperately; trust Him urgently. He is my strength!”