Joni Eareckson Tada writes this story in her book, When God Weeps:
Go back with me to the bomb blast that gutted the Oklahoma City office building leaving 168 people dead and missing. A pastor-friend invited me to come and visit the families at the First Christian Church, where they were huddling and waiting for news of their loved ones. Before I was permitted to enter the family center, I had to be cleared and credentialed by the American Red Cross.
When I wheeled into the Red Cross center, an officious woman wearing a white lab coat exclaimed, “My God, are we glad to see you!”
I looked over my shoulder. Did she mean me? Did she recognized me from an interview? Later, when I learned she was in charge of the counseling services and didn’t have a clue as to who I was, I asked why she welcomed me with opened arms.
“Honey, I wish we had more people like you in wheelchairs volunteering during a crisis. When victims come in here for help and see someone like you, handling your own personal crisis, it gives them hope. You are a powerful example to them, a promise that they too will survive their tragedy.”
… So many in our culture of comfort are not [surviving their crises]. Slump-shouldered and near defeat, they need the power of example. They need to see someone experiencing greater conflict than they make it. “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12).
If people are floundering in the mire of their problems … they need to be reminded that the power of God works — really works, not in theory, but in reality — in someone else’s life. …
Do you realize God needs you? … he likes to use you anyway, especially when it comes to other believers. … When we suffer and handle it with grace, we’re like walking billboards advertising the positive way God works in the life of someone who suffers.