John's Grief

  • Sept. 13, 2017
  • #9228

God gives us courage to face the deepest fear in our lives as we lean on Him, depending on His grace.


As you well know, grief can happen for all sorts of reasons.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and isn’t that true. Grief happens not only when a loved one dies. Take my friend John, a successful businessman, married with three kids. John was the perfect picture of health and confidence until his car was broadsided at an intersection. John suffered a back injury resulting in paralysis in both legs. It meant he had to use a wheelchair. Now, John’s a pretty active and determined guy, and so he recovered quite well from the accident. He returned to work, but he refused to see himself as, you know, as a disabled person. He simply said he was a “wheelchair user.” However, what John said about himself completely differed with how he secretly felt. And those feelings began to eat away at him. John found himself in a dark season of grief, and although he tried to hide it from everyone, over time, he began battling anxiety. He was so embarrassed by irrational fears and panic attacks, that he planned his business meetings carefully so that he could, if needed, leave at a moment’s notice.

One day as John was taking a taxi to the airport for a business trip, he started to feel clammy. His heart started beating faster; he felt dizzy. Fearing that he might be having a heart attack, the taxi driver took him to the hospital. But John was surprised to learn it was just a panic attack. In spite of his great will power, in spite of all his efforts to conceal his grief over the loss of his legs, he finally admitted that he needed help. That was the beginning of a long process of self-discovery. Through a grief recovery program at church, John began digging deep into the Psalms and learned that even emotions as dark as grief can be a gift from God—a strange gift, but a gift nonetheless. And he needed to embrace his loss in order to get on a solid path toward emotional health and wholeness.

And you know what? I can really identify with John. I lost not only the use of my legs, but I lost the use of my arms. I also went into a long season of grief, struggling against dark emotions. But God gave me courage to face my worst fears about quadriplegia. And what happened then? Well, a theologian put it this way: he said, “If only we will take the courage to fix our gaze deliberately upon the stern countenance of grief, and enter unafraid into the darkest recesses of our trouble, we shall find the terror gone because we shall find the Lord has been there before us, and coming out again, has left the place transfigured, making of it, by the grace of His resurrection, a house of life, the very gate of heaven.” Man do I love that quote because that’s what I did, and it’s what John did. It takes courage to face a life-changing loss head on, but when you do, when you enter into it; you disarm it. It no longer has power to diminish you. You have defanged it of its terror. It’s what John did and I did. And both of us are so thankful to God who transformed our worst fears into our best hopes.

You know, there’s so much more to say on this subject. And the team at Joni and Friends put together a booklet on grief, and I would love to send you a free copy. Just write for our “grief booklet” at And remember, if you are grieving, if you’ve lost something, in time the pain will calm down. It will from season to season swell up. But when you've survived the storm, the swells of that grief will be reminders that while pain never quite goes away, the God of healing and hope is there.

© Joni and Friends


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