Joni Eareckson Tada discusses cancer battle, hope of Heaven

In October, Joni Eareckson Tada re-released 'Heaven: Your Real Home' with updates to the book first released in 1995.
In October, Joni Eareckson Tada re-released "Heaven: Your Real Home" with updates to the book first released in 1995. | (Photo: Joni and Friends)

As Joni Eareckson Tada undergoes treatment for cancer, she recently discussed the hope for Heaven and cleared up common misunderstandings about the afterlife.

During a recent interview, Tada, a disabilities advocate and founder of Joni and Friends, was asked if she’s ready for Heaven.

“Yeah,” she said in response. “I think any Christian should be ready at any time. Of course, like Paul, I’m torn.

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“I don’t want to face the rigors of radiation on a quadriplegic body,” she continued. “And I have to postpone pursuing options to address my chronic pain during chemotherapy. It’s going to be a lot of discomfort in the next few months. I’m a little torn like the Apostle Paul, but I would love to be free of the suffering and affliction.”

Tada explained that while she would love to be in Heaven, she believes it’s more “needful for Christ” that she remains on earth, as there are millions of people with disabilities who don’t know Jesus.

“And that’s why I show up at work every single day at Joni and Friends,” she said. “It breaks my heart to think the suffering a person in a wheelchair is going through is only an omen of even greater suffering to come if he doesn’t know Christ.”

When asked what misunderstandings people have about Heaven, the 69-year-oldHeaven: Your Real Homeauthor said: “That it is the end, when in all reality, it’s the beginning.”

“C.S. Lewis says this is just the title page down here on Earth, and the real adventure story begins in Heaven,” she clarified. “When we flip the page and arrive in Heaven, that’s when the real adventure begins.”

Tada was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer eight years ago. After undergoing a mastectomy and chemotherapy treatment, she was declared cancer-free.

In November, she underwent tests on a small nodule that had developed over the site of her mastectomy. After biopsies, doctors discovered a small cancerous tumor within the nodule.

The best-selling author said she is doing “well” as she undergoes treatment for a second time and said she is convinced God is sovereign in all situations.

“We can’t lose,” she declared. “I’m a Christian, I’m a believer, so nothing can happen in which I might lose. So I’m pretty content.”

To better trust God amid suffering, Tada makes an intentional effort to spend less time on the internet looking up issues dealing with her cancer and more time in God’s Word.

“I think that’s one way of demonstrating trust,” she said. “Am I going to trust the internet in what it predicts? Or am I going to trust God and what He plans? I’ve got to watch my screen time with the computer because God’s watching and the Holy Spirit’s watching, and when He says turn it off, I’ve got to do that.”

In a previous blog post, Tada said that as she “feels the burn” of cancer treatment, she’s inspired by 1 Corinthians 9:25: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”

She quoted what theologian John Piper once said about his own cancer battle: “Cancer doesn’t win if we die; it only wins if we fail to cherish Jesus Christ.”

“Amen to that!" she exclaimed. “So thank you for cheering me on with your prayers. I’m about three-quarters of the way through radiation, asking God to zap any and all cancer cells within my chest wall.”

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