It can be hard to show compassion to others when we struggle to understand and experience God’s compassion ourselves. Joni Eareckson Tada shares a bit of her own struggle to understand how God dealt with her at a time when she desperately needed His compassion.
Disciple!: Where did the title for your new book originate?
Joni Eareckson Tada: It’s very personal. When I was stuck in the hospital with a broken neck, 47 years ago, I used to lie in bed, picturing myself beside the pool of Bethesda [a pool with miraculous, curative powers described in John 5]—desperately hoping that I would be healed. But as often as I prayed and pleaded with God to fix my problem and change my situation, I never did walk.
D!: How did this apparent absence of God’s compassion and involvement affect you?
JET: I was dumbstruck! I wondered how in the world a loving God could refuse the prayers of a paralytic. Why would He deny a sincere request for healing? Why doesn’t God make things easier? Why doesn’t He change painful circumstances?
D!: Where did these kind of questions lead you in regard to your faith?
JET: I realized I wasn’t the only person asking questions like this. But questions like these really pushed me deep into God’s Word. I wanted to understand what the Bible has to say about healing.
D!: Did spending significant amounts of time digging into the Scriptures result in any kind of a breakthrough?
JET: God was gracious! Slowly I began to understand God’s priorities when it comes to fixing our physical problems. I discovered that God is interested in a deeper healing—a profound, fundamental change that lasts for all eternity. I’ve experienced that, and it’s given me so much joy and contentment—as well as a ministry of encouragement and hope to so many others—during the last 47 years.>
D!: Is that what Beside Bethesda is really about?
JET: This book is a 31-day journey that helps a reader understand God’s priorities when it comes to every-day problems. I want to show how perseverance and endurance—and an earnest, rigorous reliance on Jesus Christ—is the pathway through pain to lasting pleasures in God. I want to show readers that there really are more important things in life than walking!