Habits for the hopeful

Someday, 30 years from now, I want to be able to truly, honestly speak these words. To say that trusting God has become habit, whatever pain or suffering has been my life for the past hours, days, months, years.  This is from Joni Erickson Tada, on a recent radio program on suffering. She has been a quadriplegic for 30 years and now is suffering worsening of her disabilities while she endures treatment for breast cancer:

It is at those times—and they happen all the time—that I fall back on the wonderfully godly habits that are just part of my character now. "We rejoice in suffering because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character" (Romans 3:5-6). I’ve changed. I’m no longer the 14-year-old kid that I was once back some 30-odd-years ago.

I’m a woman who has been transformed from glory to glories. I’ve beheld my Savior, and that has been my salvation that in those darkest of moments. I’ve fallen back onto habits that just bring me to the foot of the cross. If my back is hurting, let’s stop and pray. We could be in an elevator. We could be in a hotel lobby.

If I’m with a friend and I’m sensing that I’m tired, I’ll ask them, “Let’s sing a hymn. Can we sing a hymn right now? What’s your favorite Scripture song?” Something, anything to pull my focus on heavenly glories above, where my focus is called to be in Colossians chapter 3 (verse 1).

I know that this life is short. I know that my quadriplegia isn’t going to last forever. I know that I don’t want to get to heaven and look in the rear view mirror and think, “Jesus, why did I waste all those sufferings? Life was so short. It was but a blip on my eternal screen. How could I have doubted you? How could I have lived so selfishly?”

I know that heaven is about to break on earth’s horizon. Everything I do here on earth, every choice I make, every decision has a direct bearing on my capacity for service and joy and worship in heaven. I don’t want to miss that chance here on earth. I want to redeem the opportunity. That’s just part of the character, the habit that God has ingrained in me.

I boast in my affliction. I rejoice in the limitation. I glory in the infirmity because I know then that Christ’s power rests on me—it rests on all our friends listening who would do the same.  from Revive Our Hearts broadcast, July 6, 2010, "Squeezed by Suffering"
My mother's hyssop, fresh from the garden.  You know, the stuff
the Israelites dipped in lamb's blood to paint their doorways
in Egypt (Exodus 12:22).

My synopsis of Joni's talk is Ephesians 5:18-20 from the Amplified: ever be filled and stimulated with the Holy Spirit. Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices and instruments and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, at all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.
  1. Pray.
  2. God's Word.
  3. Sing hymns.
  4. Breathe in, breathe out, refocus.
I can do that.  How about you?