Opportunities In Trials

In the midst of a trial, the greatest temptation we face is to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. I don’t believe this is ever God’s will.

We tend to view trials as a kind of imprisonment, thinking our life is on hold until the day we’re released from the grip of the life challenge. ALS has made me a virtual prisoner of my own body for the last 18 years. It has been a very cruel warden. But I look around me and see other people fighting illness or trying to overcome addictions, depression, abuse, debt and so many other cruel masters.

We must continue to hope and pray for freedom from whatever is trying to “hold us,” and we should do everything in our power to move toward that goal. But, in the meantime, we should look for opportunities for God to use us right where we are. This is what the Apostle Paul did, and I’m convinced it’s what God wants us to do.

It was from prison that Paul wrote the following: “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:12)

We don’t usually associate the word “progress” with imprisonment or any kind of trial, but I believe that we should. If we wait until we “have it all together” before we try to help and give hope to others, many will go without help and die without hope.

Would I be a hypocrite telling people that God still heals when I’ve been held in the grip of a terminal disease for 18 years?

Let me answer that with another question: Was Paul a hypocrite for writing about freedom in Christ from the depths of what was likely a rat infested dungeon?

Paul was almost stoned to death by an angry mob and severely beaten other times. He also suffered from what he called “a thorn in his flesh” (many Bible scholars say this “thorn” was poor eye sight). Regardless, it’s unlikely that Paul was the handsome and strong man depicted in the Bible movies. After spending much of his time in prison and enduring countless beatings, he was likely pale and scarred, and probably in pain 24/7. Yet, God used this suffering servant to heal and give hope to others.

The Apostles faced the same trials, temptations and human frailties that we face. Yet, in the midst of trying to overcome their own trials and temptations and battling their own demons, they were feeding the poor, healing the sick and giving hope to others by spreading the good news.

People don’t care about how much we know until they know how much we care. Maybe we wouldn’t have truly learned to care apart from our suffering.

I hope you’re successful in keeping all of your New Year’s Resolutions, and 2015 is the best year you’ve had so far. But we cannot wait for all of our hopes to be fulfilled before we offer help and hope to others.

We overcome as we help others to overcome.

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on January 8, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 180 Comments.

  1. “People don’t care about how much we know until they know how much we care. Maybe we wouldn’t have truly learned to care apart from our suffering.” — Wow. Beautiful. Amen!

  2. Reblogged this on YAHWEH-NISSI.

  3. Reblogged this on Karen Foster…Even in This and commented:
    Trials are the means of growth.

  4. I believe you are right. We would not learn to care apart from suffering. I say that from experience.
    And you would not write with the grace, depth and power that you do apart from your many years of suffering. God bless you.

  5. Very powerful words you have here. They have truly blessed me this morning. Thank you. 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on Is there anyone listening? and commented:
    I share these thoughts !

  7. “I am so blessed with your blog that I have forwarded it to others so they can be blessed also. Today’s forwarding was to Richard Williams, an 88 year old WWII veteran, who writes poetry. He responded with this. . .that he wrote for you:

    An Honest Observation

    In helping others overcome, mere words won’t do.
    Those needing help need an example, smiling through.
    They need to see someone whose plight is worse than theirs.
    Before they even contemplate somebody cares.
    That revelation must be strong enough to shock,
    To be so strong no human lassitude could block,
    So strong that there is no way of escaping it,
    To make them see the living proof of “Never quit!”
    For only then may words and phrases gain a hold;
    For only then will they address what they are told.
    It is so easy to give up—say “What’s the use!”
    The human psyche thrives in seeking an excuse.
    Though you have suffered, what you’re doing, and have done,
    You’d find that Paul himself would tell you: “You have won!”
    God works in ways impossible for us to see,
    But YOU are surely His example, Praises be!”

  8. Hi Bill, Here’s the article: http://blog.godreports.com/2015/01/on-line-missionary-faces-als-with-hope-in-christ/ God bless you! Thank you for being a light for Christ!

  9. In the South, when we come across a presentation like this, we say; “That will Preach”…… Excellent Post…. Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

  10. Reblogged this on Shootin' the Breeze and commented:
    Bill is an excellent writer with “unshakable hope.” He inspires many people with how deals with the challenges of A.L.S. My Uncle Luke also had A.L.S., so Bill’s blogs remind me of Uncle Luke, another brave man. Ironically, Luke was a major league baseball player, like Lou Gehrig, and the condition is often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

  11. “We overcome as we help others overcome.” I believe it! I am in charge of a group of 1 300 women and one of our mantras is The more you encourage the more you will be encouraged. I believe it!

  12. Amen to this Bill! What we go through is never just for ourselves. Who knows who may be watching to see how we handle various trials, or when God will use you to speak into the life of someone going through a similar circumstance. Through the good and the bad, our faith walk should be in a constant state of progression. God wants to use us, even in the storms!!

  13. I don’t believe that we have to suffer to know how to Love and comfort others Bill, that comes from The Holy Spirit as we choose to carry each others Burdens but we learn in our suffering as Christians to reach out to God Trusting Him to help us endure and that is what you have done Bill and so you share this with others and give heart felt thanks because like me you know, whatever we suffer we are not alone and God works it all for good.

    Isaiah 43:1-3 – Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”

    Jeremiah 29 :11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

    Lamentations 3: 33 For God doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

    I’m still disabled in my feet but I have been Miraculously healed much more than once and I have experienced Signs and Wonders too but I had no sign that God would heal me, He just did although two life threatening conditions were healed after I came to heart repentance and was anointed by an Elder in the Church, which is what the Scriptures say will happen.

    James 5:13-15 Is any sick among you? let him call for the Elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (KJV)

    We see in the Scripture that Paul’s thorn was because of his Pride which he tells us about in Romans 7 when he was battling with his Carnal flesh, thankfully he tells us also what to do about it in these Scriptures (Romans 8 :12-15- Romans 6 – Colossians 3:4-6 -Galatians 5:24 -26) (KJV)

    Christian Love in Christ Jesus – Anne

    • Thank you, Anne.
      Yes, I’m convinced that God still heals broken minds, spirits and bodies – we must never give up hope.
      Whatever Paul’s “thorn” was, he did say that God allowed it to remain to keep him from becoming proud.

      • It was because Paul had fleshy pride that it remained but once he had put His flesh to death and was Perfected in Love, he no longer had the thorn, we see this reality in other Scriptures, it was from Satan not God. Paul also talks about his Carnal flesh in Romans 7 and the Scriptures below tell us what to do about it.

        Put the flesh to death….

        Romans 8 :12-15 Therefore, brothers/ sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. or if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons/daughters of God.

        Colossians 3:4-6 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

        Galatians 24 -26 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

        2 Corinthians 7: 1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God

        Aim to be perfected in Love…..

        Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect

        Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

        Philippians 3:14-16 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, where to we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

        2Timithy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

        1John 4:16-19 And we have known and believed the Love that God hath to us. God is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our Love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in Love; but perfect Love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in Love. We Love Him, because He first Loved us.

        2Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in Peace; and the God of Love and Peace shall be with you.

        We do not continue to sin….

        1 John 3:9 No one who is Born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been Born of God.

        John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

        1 John 5:18-20 We know that no one who is Born of God sins; but He who was Born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

        1 John 3: 1-11 ( 6-7 ) Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man/woman deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.

        Romans 8 :12-15 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. or if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

        1 John 2:4-6 He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith hebideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.

        Christian Love in Christ Jesus – Anne.

  14. You speak with powerful and moving authority, my friend. Thank you! http://mitchteemley.com/2015/01/17/1235/

  15. Thank you for this great post, Bill. You’ve been a good example of this.

  16. Reblogged this on Thoughts along the way and commented:
    Thank You.

  17. Bill,
    Your words are truly inspirational! I love that you are shining your light, right now, and in the place God has you. What a wonderful reminder that Paul preached about freedom, from the “depths of what was likely a rat infested dungeon”. God has a special plan for each of us – His plan is for right now, despite what our circumstances might be. Thank you for your faithfulness in sharing how God is working through your life!
    Thanks also for visiting my blog. So much of what you are sharing is relevant to my story as well. I am healing from abuse I suffered as a child, but God is redeeming my brokenness for good. I have subscribed to your blog, and look to hearing more of what you have to share. I look forward to connecting again soon!

    • Thank you, Kamea, for reading, commenting and following my blog. I like your blog name, Incremental Healing, because sometimes, especially with things like childhood abuse, healing is incremental. That’s not something our “microwave society” wants to hear, but…

  18. Wonderful post!! Your faith and hope and willingness to serve, even in the midst of your ALS, is heart lifting and a great encouragement to others! In the first years after the death of my little boy, I wandered through tremendous “dungeons” of grief, blackness and suffering, but through that suffering is where I learned the greatest mercy and caring for others. Would I have learned this depth of caring without my dark night? Probably not. Thank you for your heart and your hope and your wonderful blog. God bless you!

  19. This is fantastic!
    I also really love that real description of Paul. Culture has so shaped the way we think of these men; the reality is so much different.
    Excellent blog-needed to hear this today.

    • Thank you, Michael. I completely agree with you culture has painted a picture of the Apostles that doesn’t line up with the New Testament – I really doubt that Peter and Paul had halos 🙂

  20. This is brilliant, what Christlikeness you display. Thank you and God bless you.

  21. So very important to hear.. we can’t wait until we get to a certain point or time..we make the most of what we have and give what we have. Thanks for such a great lesson of hope. Hugs to you!!! Take care. 🙂

  22. A beautiful, poignant and powerful post Bill. I don’t know what else to add other than thank you and pray that the Lord continues to bless you and and make His face to shine upon you and your beautiful family, today and always ~ Sherri

  23. Wonderful words of encouragement and hope. Thank you so much for sharing amid your pain. It makes mine seem much less!

  24. Brother Bill,
    You have done it again, giving us a beautiful insightful post. I appreciate the wisdom you share from adversities bed. My heart can be touched with what you shared here, at this very trying time in my and my husbands life. My husband has made an unprecedented stand for the word of God, and is of course misunderstood by those who should understand. I’m thankful for the faithfulness of our precious Savior.
    I am expecting greater things this year in our ministry than the previous 39 years.
    The Lord is good, and I’m thankful for you and Mary and your beautiful lives you share with us. Thank you.

  25. What a wonderful post! I just imagine what the world would be like if all Christians, no matter where they are at in their journey, no matter their finances, or where they live, no matter how much they have or don’t have, would all reach out to just one other person in need once a week, and help in whatever way they can. Whether the help is financial, emotional, helping hand or just kindness. How awesome is it to give a smile to a stranger down on their luck as you’re walking by on the street and pause for a moment to just “talk” with them and let them know that they are “seen”. They are not invisible. To let them know that someone does care. And better still to be able to help in some way with either a hot cup of coffee, a blanket, a sandwich, a gift bag with soap and toothpaste and toothbrush etc.

  26. So true! I remember Joyce Meyer once said if you want up there, lift someone else!

  27. Your blog posts never disappoint Bill. Thanks for taking the time to write and share this valuable reminder with us. I agree with you 100%.

  28. Bill, how timely! I met you through one of your New Year Posts and a couple of years later, I think you New Year posts are always the ones that GET me right where I need to be gotten!
    May God bless your socks off THIS year! I love you my friend!
    In HIM,

    • Thank you, my friend.
      I love that you’re trying to help your friends Chris and Michele with their caregiving expenses. With ALS, you HAVE to have outside caregiving help, we don’t want to kill our wives 🙂
      Everyone should have friends like you!

  29. So true. I believe that as long as we have a solid foundation we can and want to reach out to others. My solid foundation is Jesus Christ, and the deep, unexplainable love that He fills us with. Before I thought, If only I win a million dollars, I would have something to tell people about to show God’s greatness and love. How shallow was that, I now realize. No matter our own situation, if His love fills our hearts, we have a treasure to share with the world

  30. very good read – I would like to share this wonderful message! God bless

  31. Loved this post.

    The scriptures tell us that “the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings”: if that was the Father’s plan for Jesus [Who was already perfect], how much more should it be true for us? (Hebrews 2:10).

    And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

    Peace, grace, and love,


  32. Bill, your first sentence describes my own automatic flesh-response to trials. I needed this wonderful reminder and confirmation that even I can be used by God in and through any times of suffering. And I love the C.S. Lewis quote you shared in a comment, “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

    You have more than learned. You (and your dear Mary) have soared, and you inspire us to as well. Your blog is a haven of hope. Thank you dear brother.

    Blessings to you both for 2015 ~ Wendy ❀

    • Thank you, Wendy. It’s not “your flesh response,” I think it’s all of our natural response to challenges – we withdraw physically and/or emotionally and, sadly, even spiritually. It’s been this way since the very first trial – Adam and Eve hunkered down behind some trees.
      Blessings on you yours this year. (Stay warm up there in the frozen north 🙂 )

  33. I agree so much with you, Bill. Thank you so much for your encouragement, despite your circumstances. I appreciate you pointing us to the ONE whom we belong to … our story and our lives are His (at times I have a hard time remembering this and I get drawn into the lie that says that comfort is what God wants for me. argh…)

  34. Thank you. I am grateful for your timely words that both heal and encourage, and am praying for you.

  35. Love your scripture-based, logical approach to serving God, even in the midst of suffering. This statement in particular caught my attention: “Maybe we wouldn’t have truly learned to care apart from our suffering.” You’ve given us another reason why God allows suffering in the first place. And when someone like you makes such a statement, someone who has been in the trenches of suffering for so long, we must take its truth to heart. Thank you, Bill, for your wisdom, encouragement, and challenge.

    • Thank you, Nancy. Your comments made me think of a CS Lewis quote: “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
      Unfortunately, life’s most valuable lessons, like empathy, cannot be learned from books.

  36. Whenever I look to the cross of Christ, I feel deeply ashamed at my petty problems (and self pitying complaints). I am humbled by your words as well, Bill; you certainly have the ‘right’ to feel frustrated, angry and pitiful, but your Christlike attitude in the midst of suffering is an inspiration to us all! Thank you and God bless you as you ‘run your race’ well!

    • Thank you, Vera. I wish I could say that I never get frustrated or angry, but I can’t make that claim, Mary will confirm this 🙂 But over the years I’ve become much better at dealing with the emotional and spiritual lows – better at relying on God’s grace.

  37. You and your words are so precious and I had been thinking about you this past week ~ You touched on two of my favorite life lessons in your words today.

    “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain”
    and without learning to live through Christ we are all prisoners in our bodies.
    Paul teaches us in Romans Chapter 7. You, sweet and precious Bill, teach us as you demonstrate great and unshakeable courage in defeating the body with the light that flows through your soul.

    I love you so much ~ Amen :Y

  38. Bill thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so encouraged by your words. The Holy Spirit has certainly illuminated the revelation of Gods word too you. The light of which is reaching across the world to touch my heart and give me strength. Thanks for the effort, your blogs are a game changer for so many and me. Blessings brother.

  39. Thank you for always inspiring me, Bill. Your life is truly a beautiful blessing. I thank the Lord for you and pray that He will fill your heart with rivers of peace & hope; that in 2015 God will renew your strength, meet your every need, and continue to bless and inspire more and more people through your life, in Jesus’ name, amen. ~Suzanne

  40. Fabulous word Bill ………So true! God gives encouragement and strength when we reach out in our time of need . So thankful for your example as well as your family’s .

    Happy New Year

  41. Yes, it is tempting to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass, but as you know, we never know how long they’ll last. Some storms rush in and then dissipate, while others seem to last like a rainy season.

    Something I have experienced is often times, I find myself in the midst of a trial after I have committed to something that involves serving others. The trial is rarely connected with the commitment, but the commitment helps me to keep going. There have been times I have battled over committing to things while facing a trial, but I do not regret having made those commitments.

    Thanks for the reminder and exhortation, Bill!

    • I can relate, Rene. It seems as if our spiritual enemies (our flesh and spiritual forces) don’t like us making “good commitments” of any kind and they really fight us when we do. Good/godly commitments are like a declaration of war on evil, which is why we better be sure it’s the Holy Spirit leading us and not just good intentions.

  42. Just wanted to say I been reading your blog for quite some time. You have become an inspiration to me. I look forward to reading what you write. Thank you.

  43. Reblogged this on Writers Of Faith and commented:
    The writer is one of my hero’s and he dose not t know it.

  44. Your trials have been going on for a very long time. My three loved ones who lost their battle with ALS had only 3 years of courage to endure. God has made you so strong and determined so that you can encourage so many over those 18 years. I have walked my walk for 66 years. It doesn’t make it any easier that I can walk and you can’t. It still is the courage that you put forth everyday that I try to carry with me. I am now scheduling my speaking to 5-6th graders in our local schools and I love doing it every year. They need to see someone that is differently able to do things and still be a good person and help others. I try to be an inspiration to all I meet every day. To some that I encounter I may be the only Bible that they will ever see so I want my example to be the best it can be. God Bless you and the work that you do each day.

    • Thank you for your comments, Linda. I’m sorry you’ve lost three people to this horrible disease. As I’m sure you know, most people (with ALS) will die within 5 years. We lost a friend from church to ALS last month, he had it for 4 years. He blessed us even in his death by telling his family to give us some much-needed medical equipment that we’re so thankful for.
      Polio taught you the lessons I’ve learned from ALS; I’m sure that you were a blessing to your loved ones with ALS and so many others.

  45. Thanks so much for sharing this message. I love the words “with” and “through”. He is with us through it all. Your words and message, because of your ‘warden’, ALS, is all the more powerful because it’s the real deal kind of sharing. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Was a real encouragement as I face ‘wardens’ of my own. Keep Pressing on…Hosea 6:3

  46. Dear Bill – This is very timely and meaningful to someone very precious to me. He is always inspired by you and I am sending this his way. Love you and see you soon!

  47. So we comfort others with the comfort we have received from God in our trials. (II corinthians 1).

  48. This really resonated:

    “We don’t usually associate the word “progress” with imprisonment or any kind of trial, but I believe that we should. If we wait until we “have it all together” before we try to help and give hope to others, many will go without help and die without hope.”

    Thank you for a beautiful post.

  49. I loved this post, Bill. I plan to reblog it Sunday. Thank you, as always, for your insights and your faith. God keep you in His care.

  50. Bill,
    I wrote to a friend this morning, who is going through a difficult trial, about the Apostle Paul. She is caring for her father who is 85 and dying of congestive heart failure. She has been through every emotion possible including being angry at God. I shared that Paul learned to be content in every circumstance knowing God was working in our best interest. I use to think of Paul as an arrogant Apostle. When I studied his life in depth, and discover a different man. Paul truly suffered for Christ and has left of many lessons for us to draw upon in our own lives. Thank you for sharing from your own experience. It is always encouraging to read your posts.

    • Great job trying to encourage your friend, Patrick. Being a caregiver, especially for a family member, is one of the most difficult jobs there is, it takes so much patience and selfless love. My wife is my hero.

      • Your wife is an amazing woman!!! I was a caregiver for five years and came away a different person. I will never look at life the same nor forget to appreciate each day we are given.

  51. A very well-timed post for me to read… I like in particular, ‘maybe we wouldn’t truly care apart from our suffering.’… because we have suffered ourselves we feel their hurt and innately want to help somehow to lessen their suffering if we can… Diane

  52. Wonderful lesson. Thank you.

  53. Beautiful post. Reminds me of something one of my Pastors used to always say – “I will not allow my circumstances to determine what I believe God for”. Thanks for sharing!

  54. “Maybe we wouldn’t have truly learned to care apart from our suffering.” On a small scale, I know this to be true. It is in suffering that I have developed compassion for others. Beautifully said.

    Thank you, Bill, for this encouragement. I have been ‘hunkered down’ lately, waiting for this bout of pain to pass. I hadn’t stopped to think of how the Lord may wish to use me in the midst of it. This definitely strikes a chord that I will be praying about.

    Grace and peace to you!

  55. Wonderful post as always, Bill. I’ve thought of you a lot lately and have been missing your presence. So good to read this today.

  56. It’s always hard, in the midst of large trials, to fathom God working something better out for your life. It usually feels more like punishment and leaves you wondering what you did wrong to deserve this. When the dust settles and the anxiety subsides, you can see how God had put these things in motion to draw you closer to him, to rely on him more, and to strengthen your faith. So many people miss out on these opportunities to grow by finding ways to circumvent their circumstances.

    My friend David Turtletaub co-wrote a book with a doctor who had ALS http://amzn.to/1xWaX9u . Very inspirational, praying for you.

  57. Thank u for ur inspirational msgs!!!

  58. Thank you for your words. As they always do, they put things in perspective for me and speak to my own life. I would like, with your permission to send this post to a fellow-blogger who is enduring a lot of distress in her life—she is a Danish woman married to a Japanese man and living in Japan—while her father is terminally ill in Denmark and her young daughter is talking about suicide. I think your words would reassure her about the challenges she faces. She is a Christian woman and has a faith that is somewhat childlike—but that may be for the best—as Jesus told us that we need to become like children if we are to be a part of the Kingdom of God that he proclaimed. I wish you well in this New Year. Your posts have been a blessing to me in the past and I hope to see many more of them this year. May God bless and keep you!

    • Thank you, Pastor Jim. That poor woman, she has so much to deal with. Trials never seem to come one at a time, do they.
      I would be honored if you sent my post to her and I will pray for her.

  59. what a beautiful message Bill. Your faith is so strong and your messages are always so uplifting. It is truly an inspiration to read your blog. I was witness to a beautiful act of kindness right before xmas that I want to share with you. I sell my art in art fairs throughout the year. One older lady came to my booth twice to admire a print that it seemed like she wanted to buy. There was another lady in the booth at the same time that told her “it looks to me like you can’t afford this, but you really want it, can I buy it for you?” The lady accepted her gift with tears and a story of how this xmas was going to be so hard, no one to spend it with, and her friend was dying. The lady giving the gift had gone through cancer and she said life is short, so she gives gifts to strangers! as she feels moved. She had us both in tears. And she certainly gave me a lot to think about. her bout with cancer and suffering made her into a beautiful person. Just like Paul. he may not have been physically beautifully after all his suffering, but his spirit and his words sure were and are still with us today.

  60. Reblogged this on Laughter: Carbonated Grace and commented:
    Inspiring thoughts from a Christian Blogger completely paralyzed by 18 years of ALS. Bill writes using a machine that he controls with his eyes.

  61. Beautiful and motivating. Prayers are with you and thanksgiving for you and all you give to others.

  62. That is so true Bill, just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for following the Holy Spirit and inspiring so many in truth.

  63. Great truth here! Apostle Paul learned to be content in every situation and continued to serve just as we must! Thank you!

  64. Yes! I needed to read this. I am going to watch Unbroken tonight and from what I can tell its going to encourage me to be courageous no matter what trial is being faced too.

  65. I love this. I often feel like a prisoner to my anxiety. I keep looking for that day when it’s gone completely. But that may never happen. I know though that I have become closer to God and others through the suffering. And i love what you said about God using the suffering servant. He used you today to reach out to me and make a difference. As I’m sure you will do for many others 🙂 great work!!

    • Thank you very much for your encouragement, Tammy. When I was first diagnosed, I experienced a great deal of anxiety, fear, worry and doubt… It was so oppressive, literally like living in a dark dungeon. It’s not God’s will for you to live this way, I hope and pray that you will soon “escape,” but I’m glad that you know God can use you even now.

  66. Bill, reading your words and knowing a little of their source (i.e. you) – “street cred” springs to mind. You mention looking “for opportunities for God to use us right where we are.”

    I read your words and see validity in experience, knowledge and attitude. I see a great humbleness. And I see a sincere caring. Street cred makes it real. You make it real.

    This is a powerful post! Thank you.

  67. You and your family came to my thoughts the other day.
    Nice to see a post from you!
    Blessings, Andrea

  68. Wow. Bill, this is really powerful. You’ve put suffering in perspective from a very intimate place, a very personal place, and that makes it all the more powerful. Your ability to see God in the midst of your pain walking this journey of terminal illness is not only inspiring but truly humbling. Thanks for your genuineness. And your perseverance through this and with folks who, like me, really don’t “get it.” Your life is a beautiful reflection of the grace of God.

  69. What power you have through your words! Your posts and testimony has always an inspiration to me and it is so good to read your work again. Haven’t had the luxury of sitting down and reading lately due to our move from Arizona. (But I was thinking and praying for you just the other day, and now here you are . . . God is amazing!) Blessings to you and your family in the upcoming year,

  70. As always, I am grateful to see you’ve written another post and I send heartfelt healing hugs to you. You are wise, you are inspirational and I admire your courage. May 2015 be a year filled with God’s Blessings for you and your family. ♥

  71. Good word, Bill, and timely. Thanks.

  72. As usual, you always fill me with the Holy Spirit and gratitude….thank you. And so true! Can you imagine the prison guard that was with Paul? I hope he converted many!!! Praying for your health and that all of us stop and care for people and pray for those that need it and unsaved. God bless and thank you so much for your continued writing. You make me a better person, a better Christian every time I read your posts. Most sincerely,

    • Thank you, Cris. It’s so good to hear (from you and others) that my posts encourage – it’s also very humbling.
      I hope you’re well and 2015 is in every way a great year for you.
      God bless,

  73. very nicely said! Happy New Year!

  74. Maybe we wouldn’t have truly learned to care apart from our suffering. Those close to the courageous Good Shepherd know that this is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. Thanks Bill…Doug

  75. Thank you very much for the re-blog, Bruce.

  1. Pingback: “Opportunities In Trials” 1/11/2015 by Bill Sweeney (Stricken with ALS) | God's group

  2. Pingback: Opportunities In Trials | A Ragamuffin's Heart

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