December 8, 1999, Joni Eareckson Tada
was on the Bible Answer Man, and
made the following devastating comments about Word-Faith teachings:
Kenneth Copeland or Kenneth
Hagin or Benny Hinn - they've never called me and asked me to come
on their program.
...I had read some portions
of Scripture that seemed to indicate that if God's Word abided in
me, and I abided in Him, I could ask whatever I wished and the
request would be fulfilled and my joy would be brighter.
I took that to mean that God
wanted me healed. And my sister packed me into her station wagon and
a couple of friends, and we drove down to the Washington DC arena
and Kathryn Kuhlman swept on stage and praise choruses and
testimonies and songs and all of us in the wheelchair section, we
kind of like with baited breath were waiting and wondering, and
nothing happened. In fact, the ushers came up to all of us in the
wheelchair section, about 35 or 40 of us, and said, "Let's escort
you all out early so as not to create a traffic jam, and so there I
was, Hank, number 15 in line of 35 people in wheelchairs or on
crutches, waiting at the stadium elevator to go up to the parking
lot, and we could still hear the distant strains of the organ and
piano - Kathryn Kuhlman's meeting was still going on - and I looked
up and down this line of solemn-faced individuals and saw so much
disappointment, and I thought "Something's wrong with this picture.
Either I wasn't reading God
right in His Word or God is not coming through on His promises." And
I knew that wasn't true, and so Hank, it was that experience that
drove me into God's Word so deep I started reading people like R. C.
Sproul and J. I. Packer and Jeremiah Burrows and John Owen and
Jonathan Edwards and other contemporary authors - Dr. John
MacArthur, there's so many. I really dove into God's Word with both
sleeves rolled up to understand the Lord's perspective on healing
and I can say now that I am so grateful for the wisdom of God.
...John 5 talks about where
Jesus once visited the Pool of Bethesda, and among all these
disabled people He touched and healed a man paralyzed on a straw mat
for over 30 years. I remember I was in the dark at night. After my
bible was closed I'd picture myself at that same pool. I would
imagine me dressed in maybe a rough burlap coat lying on a straw
mat, perhaps even near that man that Jesus healed, and I would plead
with God in prayer, "Oh, Lord, do not pass me by." I would even sing
to Him that hymn, "Jesus, Jesus, hear my humble cry. While on others
thou art calling, do not pass me by." I would pray that, and yet I
was never healed.
Well, as you know, years
later, and I began to get my spiritual act together with the Lord
Jesus and I realized He was using my affliction, my paralysis to
push me up against a spiritual wall with my back, getting me to
seriously consider His lordship in my life - years later - in fact,
just last year my husband Ken and I had a chance to visit Jerusalem,
and we chose to do the old city on a hot, dry, dusty day, midday,
when we knew no tour buses would be around and we'd have the place
pretty much to ourselves.
And Ken was pushing me in my
wheelchair down the cobblestone streets and we arrived at the
sheepgate, made a lefthand turn, and there, a couple of hundred
yards down the path, it opened up into this grand old ruins of - my
goodness, it's the pool of Bethesda. Ken, I said, would you look at
this. And although you could not make out the colonnades because the
ruins were crumbling and tumbling, and there's no water in the pool
yet, the place was empty, and as I leaned against the guardrail with
my elbow, Ken hopped the guardrail to jog down to the bottom of the
pool to see if there was any water in one of the cisterns.
And while he was gone and
the wind was warm and dry and the sun was hot, tears began cascading
down my cheeks as I looked over this pool of Bethesda and I said,
"Oh, Lord Jesus, how good of You to wait 30 years, almost as many
years as that man laid on his straw mat, You waited this long to
bring me to this place, a place where I imagined myself so many
years ago, and I'm so grateful that You did not pass me by, because
a 'no' answer to a request for healing has meant purged sin from my
life, and it strengthened my commitment to you, Lord Jesus. It has
forced me to depend on Your grace. It has bound me with other
believers. It has produced discernment.
It has disciplined my mind.
It has taught me to spend my time wisely. It has given me a hope of
heaven. Lord Jesus, You were so good in not healing me." And I know
there are many people listening now who wish to be free of their
circumstances - they are looking for an escape hatch, or maybe a
quick fix for their affliction, and they think they might find it in
a divorce or they are pondering maybe with the idea of suicide, such
as one caller mentioned earlier. Or they're thinking that they'll
find it in pills or medication, or a healing service. But the 32
years that I've been in this wheelchair and being at the Pool of
Bethesda last year, has taught me that suffering is that good
sheepdog, always snapping at my heals and driving me into the arms
of the Shepherd. For that, I am so grateful. I am so grateful.
Please visit Joni's
Forgotten Word Ministries