On this American Thanksgiving Day it is good to ponder how people can be thankful even amidst difficult circumstances.
In this vein is the story of Joni Eareckson, a 17 year old who decided on a hot day to go swimming. On holiday at America's Chesapeake Bay she swam out to a raft and dived in. But she hadn't realised how shallow the water was and she struck her head sickeningly on the bottom.
Her sister dragged her out and at hospital they found she'd broken her neck and she'd have no movement below her head.
Here was a 17 year old who'd had so much going for her but now she was paralysed.
Several agonising months later she prayed,
"Lord it looks as if you've closed every single door in life. Is there one window left open?"
During one of her lowest times she was visited by a therapist who said: "Joni why don't you try writing and drawing with your mouth?"
At first she was disgusted but she agreed to give it a go and over the years she has developed this unusual skill of painting with a brush between her teeth.
Joni has a lovely voice and she travels around speaking and singing to various groups encouraging people.
One day she prayed,
"Thank you Lord for giving me so much. I have a mind. I can see. I can hear. I can speak, I can read. I have a wonderful Mum and Dad, brothers and sisters. I have many friends. I have the opportunity of talking about you and enjoying your world. Thank you Lord!"
What a grateful attitude Joni has developed in the midst of her difficult circumstances!
Paralysed from the neck down she is doing very well but one of the most charming things is her attitude.
In one of her books she writes:
"There is only one handicap in life, I have discovered. That is living without the knowledge of God. With Him we have everything we need."
More about Joni and what she is up to now can be found at:
Image: Joni Eareckson Tada