In her new book, A Place of Healing, disability activist and Christian author Joni Eareckson Tada takes on a question that has vexed the faithful for centuries: If God can heal people, why doesn’t he always do so? Tada has a strong personal interest in the answer. A quadriplegic since a diving accident four decades ago, she has suffered from crippling chronic pain in recent years and was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this summer. Tada spoke with TIME about finding peace through suffering and continuing to fight for acceptance 20 years after the landmark signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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