48 Years as a Quadriplegic

  • By: Joni Eareckson Tada
  • July 30, 2015
  • Joni's Posts, In the Media, Video Archives

In 1967, a reckless dive into shallow water completely changed my life. I was only 17 and doctors were telling me I would never be able to use my hands or legs again. Those were dark days back then — days filled with anger towards God; days when I would tell my sister, “Just close the drapes, turn off the lights, shut the door and leave me alone.” I didn’t want to live. I wanted to die.

Forty-eight years have passed since then, and I am still no expert at quadriplegia. But the despair, the depression? With the help of Jesus, I no longer abide in thoughts of darkness. Instead, I surrender those thoughts and fears to The Man of Sorrows, every morning asking Jesus to show me how to live. And on this day, I thank Jesus — yes, I truly do — for all that He has done through almost half a century of quadriplegia and paralysis. It’s why I love sharing my story, like I did in this interview with Eric Metaxas, because I can encourage others with the same comfort I have received from the Lord (2 Corinthians 1). So, please, join me in giving praise to God for this very special day — and then pass on the encouragement by sharing this video.

Would you like to mark this milestone with Joni?


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I was your age when your accident happened and remember seeing your film "Joni". I listen to "Joni and Friends". I admire you for your stamina and ability to overcome your disability to do God's work. I recently had a Cervical Disc Fusion and complained about being in a neck brace for six weeks ! God bless you Joni.
  • Aug. 1, 2015
  • 7:08 a.m.
  • Carol Rupp
Joni like you I graduated from Woodlawn High school (1969) and broke my neck that August. I was totally paralyzed with very little chance of ever walking again. Well, with divine intervention, I recovered and have full use of my body. This year will be 46 years since the accident. I am a father with two children and 3 grandchildren. I have followed your life (since you went to the same school and graduated the same year with my brothers) with interest and am in awe of what you accomplished!!
  • Aug. 1, 2015
  • 6:27 a.m.
  • Evan Buckingham
My brother Andrew was in a diving accident on June 14, 2015. He is now a quadriplegic. Currently, he is still in ICU. He has had quite a bit of trouble with his lungs. It is so difficult to watch one you love suffer so deeply. In addition to physical and emotional turmoil, Andrew does not have health insurance. But God. But God who is rich in grace, love, and mercy shall supply all our needs in Christ Jesus. On July 4, my brother had pneumonia, and they did a broncoscopy on him to clear his lungs. The stress on his lungs caused him life-threatening difficulty for hours. His oxygen saturation would not stabilize, and kept dipping into the 80's. All day, he kept saying, "I'm scared." Late that night, he said, "I'm not scared anymore....I repented, and I'm not scared anymore....it's like my insides flipped." People often say, "We're praying for a miracle." I always answer with, "The miracle has already happened. My brother is going to heaven, and that is the best miracle of all." Thank you for this video. I sent it to my sister-in-law to encourage her and Andrew.
  • Aug. 1, 2015
  • 3:59 a.m.
  • Amanda Sargent
God bless her! So touched by her work for the Lord and testimony to His faithfulness and help through much adversity! Love you, Joni. :)
  • Aug. 1, 2015
  • 2:23 a.m.
  • Sue Gretsch
Joni, you are such a radiant testimony to how God can use all circumstances for His glory. You have influenced people all over the World.
  • July 31, 2015
  • 10:15 p.m.
  • Connie Canfield
As an OT, I can't tell you how encouraging this is. I live in MS and following Katrina, had a TBI. By the grace of God, I have made a full recovery despite all odds. Even with all I know about rehab, individual potential, and with my own experiences, I can only pray I would have half your faith!
  • July 31, 2015
  • 9:56 p.m.
  • Penny
Thank you for sharing this and I praise God for your encouragement. My sister who is 71 had atragic fall about 9 months ago and she, they say, will never have the use of her legs or upper body again. She is of course very depressed. She is far from me in terms of distance. And although I do call, I'm planning on visiting again soon. My question is how do I help her? I have my faith and with all the stressful things going on in my life, I still have to pray for strength an an abundance of faith and to remember that God's will be done. I dont know that she has accepted Christ as her personal savior. And I truly believe that will be the only thing that will bring her peace. She is so angry, and I just want the right words to say. She is not married but has two adult children who seem to be overwhelmed. Anyway, I know I'm rambling, please keep us in your prayers, as I will keep you in mine. You came through with the grace of God..ourbfathwr can do the same for her.
  • July 31, 2015
  • 9:26 p.m.
  • Constance Lee-Brookes
Joni, I am also a quadriplegic, with a respirator. After I was paralyzed, you were a large encourager for me and my family. "If she could do it so can we." Thank you.
  • July 31, 2015
  • 9:20 p.m.
  • Joy Wootton
As a brother in Christ, whom has had the honor of not only meeting you, hearing youmminister, and seeing you inspire so many, I congre atulate you on your anniversary... Many more.... God's love is always there...
  • July 31, 2015
  • 9:07 p.m.
  • Joseph Leonard Marraccino
God Bless Joni! I remember when your accident happened. I saw you in person once in San Jose, Ca. God is using you in a mighty way! On day you will have a perfect body. I plan to see you in Heaven..
  • July 31, 2015
  • 7:45 p.m.
  • Linda Franks
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