My Need of a Caregiver

ALS is a horrible disease that leads to the body becoming totally paralyzed; the once-healthy and self-reliant victims of this killer eventually become forced to rely on a caregiver for all of their needs.

Coming to rely on my caregiver for help was very difficult and humbling. I had always been so independent and hard-working, and I suppose that I believed these qualities would keep me from ever having to rely on a caregiver. But the more familiar I became with my disease, the more I was forced to admit that my self-reliance and good work-ethic were not enough; I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t do it on my own; I needed a caregiver to help me.

One day, I admitted defeat and began accepting help from my caregiver. However, even after all these years my pride still makes it difficult to rely on someone else for assistance. But, day after day, my patient, selfless and devoted caregiver is always willing to help me. I’m so thankful for that!

Although everything I wrote above is true of my wife, Mary, and Sharlene (the woman that helps her care for me), I was not referring to either them. The process of coming to terms with accepting help for my physical needs was very similar to something that occurred in my life 13 years before being diagnosed with ALS. It was then I came to realize that I was spiritually helpless. And, like ALS, my efforts to conquer this eternally fatal disease through my own efforts were completely useless; I needed a full-time caregiver. After thoroughly reviewing the “résumés” of all the candidates for this most important position, I determined that only Jesus Christ was qualified to be my caregiver (my Lord and Savior).

Thankfully I didn’t have to become a theologian to conclude that the most significant difference between Christianity and every other belief-system can be summed-up by just one word – Grace! Every other belief-system is based on human efforts (“works”) to earn eternal life. They might phrase it differently, but the bottom line message is always the same – “Clean yourself up and God might accept you.” Christians are those that have come to realize they’re incapable of cleaning themselves up enough to stand before a Holy God. Like ALS rendering me physically helpless, all of humanity is spiritually helpless and in need of a spiritual caregiver.

Jesus didn’t wait for us to clean up our act before coming to die for us. In fact, He wouldn’t have had to come at all if we were capable of purifying ourselves. The Bible says it was “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Unlike other belief-systems, Christians don’t perform good works hoping to obtain salvation; we do good works because we’ve already obtained salvation.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, at the age of 36, I was diagnosed with ALS. The neurologist gave me 3-5 years to live. 24 years later... :-) I'm completely paralyzed and unable to speak. By God's grace and the great care of my wife, I'm still here. I live to encourage and give hope to others going through difficult times.

Posted on August 8, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. I cried through your whole post. I cannot tell you why right now, but you and your family are in my prayers! May the Spirit touch many people through you and may your wife be strengthened to help you. You have been blessed in so many ways… It may be hard to see at times but it is there. Thank you so much for touching my heart!


  2. Humbling ourselves before God, and coming to the realization that He has always been there helping us and supplying for our needs is so liberating. We don’t need to struggle and worry about things we have no control over anyway. Thank you for allowing us to take this journey with you. God Bless, you are such an inspiration.


  3. Reblogged this on Pressing Toward the Goal and commented:
    Yesterday, I posted about how I was shaken personally by the faith and determination of a friend and her family during a time of struggle and grief.

    God has an awesome way of reinforcing His desires for us. Being shaken is not enough, God is only interested in changed lives that result in fulfilling the purpose that He has established for us.

    So I had a comment on my blog from Bill. God has also used ALS to bring about His purposes in a miraculous way. As I browsed through Bill’s posts, God has begun to taken beyond shaken to convicted.

    In the post above, Bill says so well how we all need to realize that we are desperate need of a caregiver. In our pride, we continually think that we can overcome through our own determination and hard work. If only I could let go of that pride and realize that I am completely helpless without a caregiver.

    I pray that God will help me to continue to press on toward the goal! Check out Bill’s post and see if you are not at least shaken.


  4. Noel Williams (prhayz)

    That is a difficult situation to be in friend. I can relate. Many years ago I spent time in the hospital for a condition which rendered me dependent on PCAs for all my care. It felt awkward, but I had no choice. My problem was similar to M.S. Hower I have recovered.

    Unfortunately, you are still struggling with an incurable disease. Nevertheless, you have as much chance as any able body person to meet with the Bridegroom when He comes. Friend, it is not about your struggles at this late stage of the game. It is more about being welcome into the Kingdom of heaven. The chorus of a very popular song goes like this:

    “Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face,
    There to sing forever of His saving grace;
    On the streets of glory let me lift my voice,
    Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice.


  5. What incredible inspiration! Thank you.


  6. My “Caregiver” has been caring for me for 54 years now (well, I would have to say for all of my 76 years, but I didn’t know it for the first 22 years) and He has NEVER failed me.

    What an amazing God!


  7. You’ve said this perfectly: ” summed-up by just one word- Grace!” About 31 years ago I worked in an extended care hospital and I noticed a man with ALS who had the nicest smile ( so did his wife) and on his wheelchair he had a bumper sticker that said: Life got tougher so my faith got stronger. His witness was one of several that drew me into a relationship with Jesus. Later when he was bedridden I shared with him how his faith blessed me. Both him & his wife gave me another one of their beautiful smiles. I feel blessed to be here too. ~ Wendy


    • That’s a great story, Wendy! It also encourages me to hear that you don’t need to be able to speak to represent Jesus well, which is great because I haven’t been able to speak in 15+ years! BTW; I love the photo’s on your blog!


  8. This shows that all things really do work together for good when we love God .


  9. In reading your post I was reminded of Paul and of Peter. But you also reminded me of my Uncle who like you suffered with this infirmity.I can offer always my prayers. With this when asked which had sinned the child’s parent or the child the Christ responded neither: this is all done that the glory of God might be made even more apparent. when I ponder these things I look back to Job for suffered and did not curse God,Paul said in all things I give praise and glory to my lord. Sir thank you; your words have renewed me this day. as a little song say life’s a highway don’t let the evil get you down


  10. Bill you are the best! Thank God for great men like you!


  11. I just happen to of seen your blog today and I want you to know this you can hide in Jesus, let Him take care of everything that concerns you or bothers you. His shoulders are so much bigger and He can carry the weight. Rest in Him and He’ll get you through it.


  12. Nothing is impossible once you put your trust in Him. He is able to do all things!!


  13. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” -Joshua 1:9

    May GOD give you more strength as you go through each day and may HE be your GUIDE in everything you do.

    “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:10

    I hope you continue sharing to others the best news of salvation through LORD JESUS CHRIST!



  14. God knows how far can one go. Imagine if you got something else that led you to total paralyzed right away, would you be able to face the world as how you are now, right?

    Bill, I’m SO happy to have found your blog – OK, you found mine first and then I found yours, but that’s not the point – by just briefly browsing 2 posts of yours, I know I am staying 🙂

    Let’s stay strong in God. God bless 🙂


  15. My father was very proud in his self-reliance. In some cases he took it to extremes, such as refusing to hire a plumber to plumb our house and doing it himself. Although it does work, it is a disaster for anyone else to figure out. After being diagnosed with ALS he had to give up many things such as plumbing, running, gardening…etc and accept being reliant on others for, even, his most basic needs. I have no doubt that it was a monumental task for him to sincerely accept assistance, but he did grow to enjoy it. He developed strong relationships and trust for those who helped care for him. I am sure you, too, are facing the same task and I wish you well.


  16. Very honest and brave! It’s so hard for us as humans to “let go”. Great post.


  17. You continue to amaze me. Love you, Ellen


  18. You continue to amaze me. Love you, Ellen


  19. Bill, Great post. Very inspiring. I thank God for you, for your friendship, AND for your wonderful caregiver and devoted wife, Mary! You all are special people.


  20. Solid post. Thankful for His grace and for you to remind me of it!


  21. Really solid post. Thankful for His grace, and for reminding me of it!


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