Ever feel like it’s one problem after another? For Vicky Olivas, life is full of hardships but she perseveres in Jesus.
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to "Joni and Friends.”
My quadriplegic friend, Vicky, has faced enormous hardships in her life. It was back in 1976 that she was shot in an assault – her assailant got three years in jail, and Vicky got a life of total and permanent paralysis. But you know what? It was that terrible tragedy that eventually brought her to Christ and, to this day, Vicky is so grateful that God took ‘whatever means necessary’ as she puts it, to rescue her soul. You can see why, to me, she’s such an inspiration.
Vicky and I keep constant tabs on each other because we both experience some pretty significant challenges with our quadriplegia. But in some ways, Vicky has it even tougher. She has less functioning ability than I do, but she sure does keep that smile. Still, it’s hard. Not long ago – now listen to this, Vicky had to sleep in her wheelchair because her attendant didn’t show up, and then just a few evenings later, her drainage bag came undone and her mattress and pillow became soaked. Then her wheelchair broke down. And just a few days ago, I learned someone accidentally spilled extremely hot water, which left a serious burn on her leg. For Vicky, it's been one awful thing after the next, but for what purpose? I mean, hasn’t she been through enough already?
Well, Vicky is clear on God's purpose. She has memorized it: Psalm 34, verse 19 where it says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but God delivers us from them all.” Vicky knows that the children of God are supposed to face tough times. Acts chapter 14, verse 22 tells us all that we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. So, as awful as Vicky has it at times, her trials are no surprise to her. They come with the package of what it means to be human and what it means to be a Christian. And their purpose? Well, she believes that her bright outlook, plus her confidence in Jesus Christ is having an impact on others, helping them see the reality of God’s sustaining grace. Vicky to me is such a powerful example of II Timothy chapter 2, verse 10, where the apostle says:
“I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”—2 Timothy 2:10
Did you get that? We endure everything all for the sake of the elect. Vicky hangs in there and perseveres because she knows her endurance through trials and the grace of God at work are building up her Christian friends. Friends like me. And that is a pretty high and noble purpose.
I hope that a story like Vicky’s inspires you as much as it does me. And stories like hers are not uncommon here at “Joni and Friends” – every month we put them in our Joni and Friends’ newsletter where folks like you can read and be refreshed by the examples of those who, with a smile, endure some pretty tough times. And I’d like to send you our most recent newsletter, which is filled with some wonderful testimonies that I know will bless your heart. Just go to my radio page at joniandfriends.org and ask for a copy of our Joni and Friends newsletter.
Finally, if you are experiencing one awful thing after the next, remember today II Timothy chapter 2. Remember that part of the purpose for your trials is for the sake of the elect. That means that others are watching and learning from you – so persevere, friend, persevere. Others are observing and benefitting from your smile. Oh, and one more thing: if you have a minute, please remember my friend, Vicky, in your prayers – I know she'll be hugely blessed to know that you are interceding for her!
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