The Will To Live

I almost made it through a whole year without being hospitalized or having any additional health problems. Almost. Then, with just a few days left in 2016, I caught a cold. The “common cold” is not much more than an annoyance for otherwise healthy people, but for someone like me with weakened breathing muscles and only 30% of my lungs functioning, the common cold is much more than an annoyance.

On the morning of the last day of the year, I was having an extremely difficult time breathing even wearing my breathing mask. In addition to that, I couldn’t keep anything down. I was a mess, more than usual. Mary and I both assumed it was pneumonia again so she called 911 and within minutes we were in an ambulance en route to the hospital. ALS has brought us one adventure after another over the last 20 years.

We waited in a small emergency room for twelve hours while waiting for a room to open so I could be admitted. It was during this time that I began thinking about the will to live. I was thinking, “if I didn’t have a sense that God still had a purpose for even a broken down mess like me or if I was an atheist or adhered to some other fatalistic worldview, I would have wanted a doctor to give me a shot that would have ended this suffering. It was as if my opposition to euthanasia was being tested.
If you are convinced you’re going to heaven, where the Bible says there will be no more pain, suffering and tears…, why continue to go on fighting to live?

Apart from the fact that the Bible teaches that life, including our own life, isn’t ours to take, it’s a very logical question; a question I’ve pondered at length over the last 20 years.

It’s a question that really confuses atheists.

Years ago I was watching a Barbara Walters special on heaven. She interviewed representatives of many different faiths to get their take on the after life. For some reason her last interview was with an atheist. I remember so vividly the closing sentence of this atheist: (If we believed in a heaven) “we’d all be killing ourselves now.”

But the reverse puzzles me: if atheists believe that this short life is all that there is, why do studies on assisted suicide show that atheists are the most likely to choose that option when facing a terminal illness?

Last year, Mary and I watched a movie titled “Me Before You.” It was a fictional “love story” about a wealthy self-centered 33 year old playboy in England that becomes a quadriplegic after a tragic accident. He’s obviously depressed and becomes a recluse in his parents mansion. He begins researching assisted suicide and finds a beautiful facility in Switzerland that provides “death with dignity” for wealthy people from all over the world (unfortunately, this facility really exists).

I’m obviously not a movie reviewer so let me wrap this summary up: his pretty young caregiver convinces him to travel to many exotic locations and they fall in love, but he still goes through with his plan to end their travels at the Switzerland death clinic. Not a very happy ending.

While watching this “love story,” my mind began to wander. I began thinking about a woman I admire so much. Fifty years ago, this woman was a beautiful and carefree 17 year old swimming with friends in the Chesapeake Bay. She dove into shallow water and hit bottom. This tragic accident resulted in her becoming a quadriplegic, virtually the exact same injury as the man depicted in the movie. Like him, she became depressed, reclusive and also had suicidal thoughts, but…

Joni Eareckson Tada had made a commitment to follow Christ three years earlier while attending a Christian summer camp. It was a renewal of this commitment and the support of family and friends that gave her life new purpose. For 50 years she’s been serving others all over the world while confined to a wheelchair. She shares the Gospel on TV and radio, hosts summer camps for mentally and physically disabled youth and, a ministry that is so needed, she provides wheelchairs to the disabled in third-world countries, like the boy below in Haiti. Her ministry has given away over 150,000 wheelchairs so far.

It’s really amazing what God can do with broken (humbled) vessels, regardless of our physical state. This year, give God permission to use you – this is the ultimate expression of His gift of a freewill. We are Christ’s hands to help a hurting world.

And, as the Apostle Paul wrote, when we’re done fulfilling God’s purpose for us in this life, it gets so much better:

“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

No matter how depressed you might be over your current circumstances, please don’t give up, your story doesn’t have to have a sad ending.

“Therefore we do not lose heart (don’t give up). Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)


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 February 8, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 186 Comments.

  1. Extremely encouraging and uplifting. It is good to know that God can use us no matter what our status, condition, or shortcoming.

  2. Reblogged this on YAHWEH-NISSI.

  3. Wishing you and yours a blessed Easter, Bill.

  4. Appreciate this post very much, I needed this nudging right now. And thanks for joining my blog, I’m honored, I hope it will be a blessing to you. I look forward to more from you, you are an inspiration.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Preston.

      • A friend made this comment on my blog, which I think is spiritually very insightful and in line with your post.

        “Because you are showing us how to die. . . . with a backbone of steely determination, and filled with the Holy Spirit, with hands upraised in praise to The Great I Am. We constantly look for examples of how we want to live. But we need to know how to die too, because we are just a mist/a vapor…….a breath.

        “What amazes me is that if we were to have a measuring scale & put your trial on one side, and the glory/joy you bring to God right now on the other, the weight of glory must be heavier, or you wouldn’t be here.”

        Ken Wackes

  5. Great post. There is so much depression in this world and I can see it becoming much worse. If many with mental health issues truly knew and had a relationship with God, I think their burdens would be much lighter…..Sure Christians also have many health issues, but we have a hope in God, and know that He is our Rock, regardless of the outcome.

    • Amen. Thank you for your comments. I agree with you that Christians deal with depression and mental health issues too, but, as you said, I know first-hand that Christ helps us carry our burdens – if we allow Him to do so.
      (Jesus said) “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

      • Amen, Amen and Amen again. God is so loving and kind. I wish that the whole word would find enough faith to give Him a chance. So many lives would be greatly improved.

        • Yes, “improving lives” while here on earth is very important, but changing eternity for others should be our focus. Eternity with Christ is the only Unshakable Hope we have – everything on earth can and will be shaken.

  6. I really needed to hear this. We’ve had some health issues in the family, and well, it’s just got me really paranoid. I start thinking about my girls … how I want to see them married and see grandchildren …. But paranoia will drain your living … Maybe I do have health issues hiding in the dark, but they aren’t hidden from God … and I want to enjoy this day and every day that I’m given …. I’m praying for you.

    • Thank you for your comments and for your prayers, Shelli.
      Regardless of how severe our health problems might be, it seems that fear always creeps in, doesn’t it? With some people, the overwhelming fear can be much worse than the physical condition. I know it sounds cliché, but, like the Manna given to those living in the wilderness, God’s provision, for everything we need, including our emotional peace, only lasts for a day – “He is new every morning.” One day at a time, Shelli.

  7. My sister Paula is your brothers neighbor. We have talked and prayed for you many times. I could not agree with you more.
    I would like to share a little of my story with you. May 2011 I went to work at Delnor hospital in the OR ( I had at that point worked as a stub nurse for 21 years ). I was completely short of breathe when I reached the locker room. Long story short, I was brought to the ER where I was diagnosed with a Pulmonary blood clot. Bad news!! I was sent to the ICU and within 72 hours I was in a coma! Part of my lung was removed, sent to mayo clinic and I was diagnosed with a deadly form of pneumonia along with the blood clot! My situation was grave. I come from a very devout Catholic family, my brothers, sisters and friends had me on every prayer chain. My family would say the Rosary around my bed, pictures of Mary went up in my room My health was not improving but getting worse. My funeral arrangements were made. My sons who had power of attorney refused to take me off life support!! What my family was going through was horrible, what I was going through was no better. While in a coma I experienced pain, mind bending pain. I knew I was dying but I chose to fight!! Like you, I absolutely believe in the Trinity and all the love, peace and beauty that heaven will provide!! I’m not afraid to die but I know God had plans for me to do his work here still. While in a coma, the Virgin Mary came to me in my room. She never spoke to me but just Her presence brought me so much peace and comfort( words cannot explain). I came out of the coma in just short of 3 weeks!! Every cell of my body was saturated with Gods love!! My life has never been the same!! Every material thing in this life was taken from me, God had removed it! But I have great love from family and friends through our Lord Jesus Christ!! I have an almost constant joy that sometimes is hard to keep it all in!! I know my life was spared to tell of this great Love God has for us!! My lungs are permanently damaged, I’m now permanently disabled. Like you a lot cold for most, will make for me, a hospital stay!! I have trials and suffering, but Jesus our Lord is with me through it all. I can never earn this great love, but God gives his love unending to all of us!! That is my purpose, that is the joy of my life!! With all my heart I hope to leave this world helping people experience this profound love!! May God continue to Bless you and your family!

    • That is an amazing story, Madonna! Thank you very much for sharing your story and thank you for your prayers. God still does miracles, isn’t that great news, Madonna?

  8. What a powerful challenge–giving God permission to use us, rather than deciding or even discerning what we would like to do for God. I also appreciate the quotes from C. S. Lewis. Thanks, Bill, for your careful thought and exposition of your life in light of your Christian faith. It matters because you matter as God’s beloved son.

  9. Bill, I found myself here through a Reblog by Tricia of Freedom Through Empowerment.
    This post is so very powerful and had me taking in every word, every sentence. I called my wife over saying “You got to read this”.

    I am concerned of the legislations that is being passed in Canada, and for the doctors in our government funded healthcare system who could in the future be forced to perform euthanasia against their convictions.

    I am encouraged to read this post filled with faith, strength and conviction.

    God bless you so much,


    • Thank you for your encouraging comments, Carl.
      With healthcare costs for the government insured increasing drastically, especially for the chronically ill, I think there will be increased pressure on the elderly and terminally ill to choose assisted suicide. Or, they will limit the care, medical equipment and medicine to the point that is effectively assisted suicide, a slow and painful form of euthanasia.

  10. Thank you for sharing your blog. I enjoyed reading about your amazing relationship with our LORD and Savior. You are an encouragement to others to consider Christ’s way of living. Thanks!

  11. Thank you for this. I remember reading Joni’s story as a girl and wondering why God didn’t heal her, when he could – easily. What a powerful vessel of hope she has been. God bless you too, and keep you well and safe and always cradled in his holy and precious well.

    • Thank you for your comments, Selina.
      I don’t understand why many people haven’t yet received healing, but I have seen many others healed and I’m so happy for them! I haven’t seen physical healing for my ALS yet, Selina, but God has done so many miracles on my behalf. The point is, God still heals and performs miracles. Our job is to keep seeking Him – not just for God to act on our behalf, but to know Him.

  12. Thank you, Bill, for sharing from your heart. I’m glad you’re here because your blog is one of my favorites. Reading one of your posts is like visiting with a brother in the Lord. By the way, I’m troubled by the legalization of doctor assisted suicide in Canada. It’s one thing for an atheist to desire death, but I’m concerned people who have terminal illnesses may feel pressured or rushed into ending their lives sooner because the option is here now. My heart goes out to the suffering, but I can’t help but believe the money spent on ending lives would be better spent on improving the lives of those still living. We need to focus on decreasing pain–not ending lives.
    You, like Joni E.T. are a huge testimony to the grace and hope found in Christ.
    Blessings to you and Mary ~ Wendy

  13. Wow. Awesome 🙏🏼❤

  14. Thanks for sharing this! It is encouraging.

  15. Very excellent brother!
    Keep up the good work!

  16. Wow, what a powerful testimony you have! Although I do not have ALS, I have had many of the same thoughts while struggling with chronic pain. The verse you ended with is one that I love and constantly remind myself and others about! I want to share this with my very young friend, a teenager who is dealing with disabling chronic migraines and seems to be falling prey to depression. This is such a beautiful message with so much truth. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Having difficulty breathing is so uncomfortable and scary. So glad you’re feeling better!

  18. Just awesome bill. The inspiration you provide is part of that much needed will to live.

    Glad you mentioned Joni too. What a light she is. God bless, and your ‘unshakeable hope’ has an awesome setting in the jewels of God’s purposes.

  19. I so love your posts Bill. They never cease to inspire and humble me and, more importantly, I always leave with a renewed sense of certainty about God’s existence and sense of purpose in everything He creates. Well done again. Glad to see you’re feeling better too. 🙂

  20. This is just beautiful. I love the honesty behind it with the inspiration and hope for more with our lives. Thank you for sharing. ❤️​

  21. My heart ❤️ always leaps with joy when I am notified you have published a post. I wish I could say ‘which one’ is my favorite, but quite honestly…I love them all the same. This one now gets added into the bunch! Every time I read your posts it’s like opening a 🎁 gift for my soul. I am a better person having ‘met’ you and you renew my hope in all things good (despite what that may look/feel like.) HUGS & BLESSINGS my cyber-friend.

    • Thank you so much for your comments, Dawn. It’s so encouraging to hear that I’ve increased someone’s hope “in all things good.” Today, as much of the world views “good as evil and evil as good,” it’s never been more important to discern what is truly good (from God’s viewpoint) and to make a conscious effort to increase our hope in that good. My goal is to play my part in doing this.

  22. Our story is still being written … I love that. No matter where we are … God is giving us something to use to aid others, to love others … I guess it all comes down to trust. That’s never easy, but God is the only one who keeps delivering for me. Time and time again. Blessed by you.

  23. As usual, a compelling post about something I can relate to so well. I’ve had my periods of time when I just didn’t want to go on, but I knew that was selfish. I’m thankful that I’ve hung in there over the last 3+ years to allow God to use me. I’m sorry you had pneumonia. I just got out of the hospital last week with aspiration pneumonia. It’s no fun when you’re unable to cough! I thank God for your courage and how much you inspire me.

    • Thank you very much, Terri. You are an inspiration to me as well. I had that darn aspiration pneumonia last year. The secret to not getting it is just don’t aspirate 🙂 easier said than done, right?
      I’m glad you are out of the hospital and on the mend.

  24. I truly hope things are going well for you and yours, Bill, and that God is continuing to heal any area of your life where you need it. Don’t forget you have a friend in me, if you ever need one. Kari,

  25. This is a very encouraging post! Your transparency is a blessing and offers hope.

    Sometimes we get hit from different sides and we are tempted to get angry and question God, with our focus on the problem, we forget He is right here with us. Like a song says, He stands beside me in the fire.

    I pray 2017 finds you in good health and He continues to bless you with creativity to share His promise with the written word. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  26. Beautiful post. Thank you for your words and insight! Truly wonderful.

  27. Jennifer Stepanski

    Thank you so much Bill. So much wisdom. Prayers and love! Appreciate you so much. Amazing Grace! Miracle working! Hello to you and Mary! Great children of God you both are, who are changing lives daily! LOVE, Mrs. Wonderful.

  28. As always, an amazing and thought-provoking post. You have certainly been an example of this to me, and I know, many others. God has used you to inspire and encourage others – I tell your story often when I am ministering to those whose situations are dire. I look forward to heaven for you, but I’m so glad you’re still with us. God’s plans are so far beyond our understanding, but they are always good!

  29. Your posts don’t come often, Bill. But when they come, I stop what I’m doing to read them. You never fail to inspire. Thank you for living.

  30. I really enjoy reading these post. They are at times inspirational, tearful, funny and causes me to reflect on my own life. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. May God grant u peace serenity and courage to live on.

  31. Well said!! I admire your courage, you most certainly have the gift of hope!! Sending healing prayers to you. May God continue to bless you!! God loves you 💜

  32. Bill, I almost didn’t comment since you received so many already. So, I’ll keep this brief. THANK YOU! The Lord is using you, dear brother.

  33. Thank you! I learned this lesson all to well this past year!

  34. Hello my friend! I was so very excited to have gotten a notification that you had written something, anything. Your ministry is a true encouragement to I’m certain thousands of people who may have never heard of our beautiful sister Joni E.Tada and her testimony. I remember the very first time I read your blog she was the very first person I thought about. I’m happy to know that you are better and though you may have some days which are trying you recall where your strength comes from and that your help comes from JESUS. Each and every blog I read it comes across to me and I know that it has to come across to those readers who may not have use of there limbs that they too can have unshakable hope. I bless GOD that I do have full use of my body but I confess that when I get the opportunity to read or spend time with my siblings in CHRIST JESUS who do not have limbs or the use of their limbs or other parts of their body and yet they will and do give GOD all the praise any how. Those are the ones I really want to hang out with. I don’t feel sorry for them far from it I’m encouraged to do more for JESUS because of people like you, Joni and Nick Vujicic. So keep on writing my brother, keep on living for JESUS and encouraging other with your message of hope and I will keep being encouraged and challenged by you. I love you.

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement. I’m happy to hear that you seem to go out of your way to “hang out” with those who have physical limitations or might be otherwise challenged. That says you have the compassion of Christ.
      Nick would have been another great example.

  35. Dearest Bill, I wish I could adequately express how the Truth you speak affects my heart. It tells me so loudly that the Truth of God stands. It gives me such hope and penetrates into my core (and I know for others as well). It is precisely because of your “mess” that what you say makes sense and reflects TRUTH. Your voice shouts loud over all the “perfect” people and scenarios around me.
    Would you please tell your wife that she is a quiet example to me on how to love. In a world where so much depends on whims and feelings, you both are a bright beacon, pointing straight to the love of God.

    • Thank you very much, my friend.
      There’s something in a Christian (the Holy Spirit, faith, God’s grace…) that, when everything else this world can take away, it stands up stronger and says, “You cannot touch me!” this is the place I write from, and thankfully this place covers up my weaknesses as a writer 🙂
      My wife is the best! Because I can’t speak, she never left me in the hospital, sleeping on an uncomfortable fold out recliner.

  36. Your ability to seeGod in the pain, discomfort and inconvenience of living this side of heaven, knowing heaven awaits, is a testimony to the power of God to use these broken and messy vessels. You’re a living picture of grace, my friend. And of perseverance and hope. God truly is bigger than my circumstances. Thank you for this.

  37. Beautiful hope! Beauty from ashes!

  38. Awesome stories that give hope.
    We don’t have to demand perfection of ourselves. It’s enough to keep moving ahead as best we can without giving up.

  39. I said a little prayer for you the other day, as you came into my thoughts. One of South Africa’s greatest rugby players Joost van der Westhuizen, has died of Als.
    On our TV screens we have seen flickers of the film he had made to make this disease known. He also went to the US to allow them to do tests on him. And has set up a foundation for research. He was so good looking, married to a beautiful wife with two children. He was a Springbok warrior of note. To be a Springbok (SA’s national ruby team) you have to have much strength, determination and courage. But in the end it was his courage off the field, battling this dreadful disease, that every one is applauding.
    He had tremendous courage – just like you Bill. God works in mysterious ways in our stories, and touches the lives, with His compassion, of people we do’t even know. One day we will see our stories intertwined into His Story, – your story will be a beautiful story.
    Blessings, and courage to you today.

    • Thank you for your comments. I’m sorry to hear about this rugby player passing away. That’s sad. It sounds like he was a fighter and he was trying to make a difference for good. ALS seems to target athletes, we have several baseball and football players in America that have been diagnosed with ALS.
      Thank you for prayers.

  40. Reblogged this on Coaching 4 Calling and commented:
    Great post from someone who is suffering but still having hope. Thank you!

  41. Thanks Bill! I always love reading your posts. You always give me such a perspective and remind me just how blessed I am.
    You are an inspiration to me. I know God is using you to share your wisdom just like God showed Joni a way to help others.
    My prayers are always with you and Mary. Both of your strength and determination inspire me to be better and stronger person.

    Love you both!

  42. A deeply moving post, Bill. Your faith and your life are an inspiration to the rest of us. <3

  43. Sending you warm thoughts and thanks for sharing what is in your heart. I believe that your words will help someone exactly when they need it. White healing light and blessings your way.

  44. You are an inspiration my friend. It must have been a real battle face down in the arena but you seem to always look up and see people who you still love and want to give hope too. You give it to me. Thank you Bill.

    • Thank you very much, my friend. You give me hope. God has blessed you and I with His grace and a great wife to help us in this battle with ALS/MND. I hope you’re doing well.

  45. I have been working as Patient Advocate at a mental health hospital. Many of the patients are there after suicide attempts. Often I lead groups on topics such as Healing from Anger, Asking for Help, and Seeking Safety. I plan to talk about your post on the will to live. Life is precious. Thanks for reminding us of that truth.

    • Thank you, Cowboy. That is such a great work you are doing, God’s work. I’m sure it’s difficult work too. It’s humbling to hear that you are going to include my post in your work.
      I remember you telling me that your uncle died of ALS so I know you can relate.

      • With all the folks who follow you and write to you, Bill, I am impressed that you would remember that I told you of my Uncle Luke. He was a very positive guy, not only as a Major League ballplayer, when he was a competitor, but also when he fought ALS, a battle in which it was more difficult to be cheerful and to persevere. I am proud that he did keep on keeping on so bravely.

  46. Inspiring. I give to Joni Eareclson Tada and, so I follow her work closely. Her life is far from painless, but God has blessed her in many other ways to fill in the blanks. Her ministry is like no other – without her there would be no wheelchairs for the poor and the needy and the old. God knows what he is doing. Easy for me to say I know. All I can do is pray for her fervently and I do.

    • Thank you, Karen. You are so right, the wheelchair the boy in the picture was given, cost $5,000 in the U.S. I’m sure it was donated to Joni’s ministry, and they refurbish it and ship it for $150. It’s such a great ministry and I’m so glad you support her ministry.
      Joni is a remarkable servant of Christ.

  47. jacquelinegwallace

    Once again you have encouraged and challenged us. Thank you very much, Bill. I am reblogging it on my own blog.

  48. God gives us burdens that we are able to carry – never more, I reckon.

  49. Bill, you are one of those rare individuals that have taken the hand dealt to you and are using it to build up the hope and faith of all that read this blog.

    You are an amazing man of God that continues to teach us about humility,perseverance,and most of all love.

    There is a crown waiting for you,of this you can be certain.

  50. Hi Bill, thanks again for your beautiful insight. I had forgotten about Joni, I remember reading a number of her books when I was younger. Amazing what God has and is accomplishing through her faith and witness. I was asking God for something in prayer today and you and your faith came to my mind. I ended up apologizing for what I was asking for. I’d like to echo what another one of your readers said, that I wish we were neighbours. I also suspect that Mary and you are as close as two peas in a pod. When you see the beauty in one special person there is usually another beautiful special person nearby. I’m thinking that you are both very special people. God’s grace and provision is a beautiful thing. Blessings !

    • Thank you, for your comments and for your prayers, Bruce. I’m sure whatever you were asking God for was fine.
      After 31+ years of marriage, 20 of which I’ve had ALS, Mary and I are close. I’m afraid I’ve turned her into a recluse like me. She’s worked a full-time job from home for the last 27 years, raising two daughters and taking care of me. She’s a hard working angel and, next to salvation, she’s the greatest blessing that God has given me.

  51. Bill, you are such a blessing and encouragement to me. Your strong testimony of courage and perseverance prods me along in my walk with Jesus to stand up straighter and step more lively. How dare I think a self-centered thought, or wallow in self-pity for even a moment?! Look what Bill can do! P.S. Joni E. Tada has been a heroine for me, too, all these years, ever since her first book.

    • Thank you, Nancy. There’s no greater encouragement for me than to hear that I’ve encouraged others or given someone hope, so thank you. This is the only reason I started this blog.

  52. Bill, wonderfully written and I can clearly see how of is using your life. God bless you, you are truly a Saint.

  53. Once again, thank you for reminding me of my “living” hope. I will be glad to meet you someday.

  54. Bill, it is so good to be reading what the Lord is still doing in your life. You are an encouragement to us all, and proof of the miraculous work of God’s grace in this world that is preparing us for eternity with Him. You are blessed and a blessing to others. Our prayers are with you and your family. ~ Fran

  55. This is one of your best postings!👍

  56. So good to hear you again, Bill. You are amazing. I’m in my 11th year with ALS. Our lives are in His hands. God loved us so much, He sent His Son, so we could love Him back. John 21:19: Jesus tells us that (Peter) would glorify God, even when he could no longer do anything for himself. As long as we can praise Him, we glorify Him.” I praise Him for you, Bill, as you continue to praise and glorify Him.

    • Thank you very much for your comments. It’s so good to hear from you. I was thinking about you the other day and wondered how you were doing. You haven’t posted in quite some time. How are you doing?

  57. Always great to read your posts Bill!! Glad you have battled through all these difficulties and are still with us. You are an inspiration.

  58. Reblogged this on Laughter: Carbonated Grace and commented:
    The blog posts by this author are written with his eyes on a special computer. His journey is the most literal example of “living for others” that I have ever encountered. His writings and example have pulled me out of my self-pity spells for years.

  59. Joni not only kept me encouraged over the years I was in a wheel chair, but gave me the courage to take up painting. I was always clumsy with my hands, but I decided after seeing her paintings that art is in our way of seeing and that turned out to be true. Then a new medicine came on the market and got me out of the wheelchair. You have also been a gift of grace for the several years I have been following your blog. My husband has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Which is incurable and progressive. I fell and broke my should in three places last February. He had to do everything for me until I could finally get surgery. He was exhausted from that, so I went to a nursing home for two weeks to get rehab and let him recover. Unfortunately he came down with a respiratory infection that didn’t respond to medicines.The day I could finally drive, I had to take him to the ER for what turned into a two week hospitalization with him steadily getting worse instead of better. Tests showed his lungs were definitely worse. They sent us home, because they couldn’t do anything. He was too weak to walk and had trouble getting up from a chair. None of the doctors would suggest anything or even give us a guess at how long he might have. God inspired me to push for physical therapy, since I was having to go three times a week and we could go together. He was slow recovering muscle and stamina, but it has been amazing. He still has light coughing bouts a few times a day, but mostly, so far it seems to be sinus related from living in an area notorious for it. He has been reasonably healthy and mobile for about six months and is still working at his architecture on the computer from home. I grocery shop, but we both carry them in on walkers. A month or so ago, a bout of breathing trouble hit him in the doctor’s office while waiting for a shot. They put him on steroids and antibiotics right away and got him back to normal within a couple of days. I see God working on both of us through all of this. And grace is everywhere, so we persevere with hope and laughter and doing as much as we can for others.
    Your perseverance and faith have often been what pulled me back up when I was having a sinking spell. Thank you with all my heart for being willing to live for others.

    • Wow, Eileen, you and your husband have been through some hard-fought battles with your health, I’m so sorry. It sounds like you’re a great team, when one of you is down (physically or emotionally), you lift each other up. Mary and I are like that emotionally, but she’s always lifting me physically, unfortunately.
      Have you looked into getting a caregiver to come in to lighten your load? We have a great caregiver come in four or five times a week for a few hours, it’s such a big help for Mary.

  60. Praying your tagline over you, Bill. Your perspective is refreshing and convicting. I will be thankful every day for my health. Thank you, brother.

  61. Thank you so much for your “lived loudly” words of hope and encouragement. Every time I see your “Unshakable Hope” post in my In Box, I grab a cup of tea and I slowly read your words. I try to imagine your pain and restrictions. I pray for you and your wife. And I want you to know that your voice matters so much. There are no wasted breaths in your life, Bill. So many of us are blessed by your life.

    • Thank you so much, Diane, both for your encouragement and for your prayers. As I mentioned in a previous comment, sometimes I feel that I’m literally being kept alive by the prayers of others. I greatly value your prayers, Diane.

  62. Reblogged this on A Relentless Surrender and commented:
    I wish we were neighbors. He teaches me and every post changes me in some beautiful way. I ask that you read my favorite blogger and let him bless you as God sees fit. I pray some day to blog again. Every year I pay the fee and renew my address and hope of posting regularly again. If all my reason for my annual fee is to introduce a hungry soul to Unshakable Hope found in Christ through Bills ministry, I count it pure Joy.

  63. Reblogged this on alighttomyway and commented:
    The man who wrote this has suffered with ALS for twenty years, yet he continues to blow me away with his love for the Lord and his steadfast faith. I hope you take a moment to read what he has to say, and let God speak to you about your commitment to accomplishing His will in your own broken down life. And if you haven’t checked out his blog, I hope you’ll do that, too. Unshakable Hope is a treasure.

  64. Thank you. You are a gift.

  65. Your testimony is so powerful. Thank you for addressing this subject as one who knows, who experiences an earthly “hell” every day, yet chooses life until God takes you home. I am convicted about the times I don’t “feel” like picking up the phone to call someone God has laid on my heart, or to walk next door and visit my unsaved neighbor. My arms move, my legs work, yet I have to be in the mood? Shame on me. You are an inspiration, dear Bill. I praise God for you. And I am praying that you will enjoy a year of zero health complications.
    I would like to repost this on my own site if that’s ok with you. I pray that many of us will be encouraged by your words. No one’s story needs to “have a sad ending.”
    God bless you. And may He continue to use you to be a blessing to others. I, for one, am blessed because of you.

    • Thank you, Connie.
      You are so right, not all of us can go overseas as missionaries…, but most of us can do the simple things like you mentioned, visit a neighbor, make a phone call or send $150 to Joni to pay for a wheelchair… I’m an Online Missionary with Global Media Outreach. For almost seven years I’ve done this and I get to communicate with and disciple Christians all over the world, many are underground believers in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia… We do what we can, Connie.

      • Bill, I am not familiar with Global Media Outreach but you can be sure I’m going to check it out. It’s exciting to hear that Christians all over the world can tap into your mentorship. I’ll pray for your ministry. I pray that all of us will search our hearts and let God nudge us into service. You are right. We do what we can… Or at least we should do what we can!

  66. Thank you so much for sharing these inspirational words and for allowing yourself to be a vessel of God’s love and mercy for all that your life touches. May God continue to bless you and your family!

  67. Thank you, Bill. I have been wondering how you are doing. Like yourself, I have very limited lung capacity, so coming down with so much as the common cold is a severe ordeal for me. I am thankful that I have made it through the winter so far without one!
    I share with you the will to LIVE. And, as the apostle said, “we who LIVE (with the life of Christ in us) are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11). So, Amen. It is for His sake that we endure these things!

    • Thank you, Allan. I remember you telling me that you had severe breathing problems, so I know you can relate. My family is nervous about being around me when they have a cold. A few weeks ago my daughter almost canceled a visit because my grandson had a cold. I understand taking precautions, but I don’t want to live in a bubble, if I get sick, so what, if I die, I go to heaven.

  68. It’s always good to hear from you, Bill. Your posts are always profound and you put life in proper perspective. Glad you came through that rough spell!

  69. I saw that movie, Me Before You. Made me angry because they made the man look so “brave” for following through with his decision (part of which) so he could spare the woman he loved from living with a quadriplegic. Then, the male character tells the woman to enjoy life and make the most of it by leaving her money to pursue HER dreams. Obviously, this mindset is ineffective and lines up with the great quote by CS Lewis that you shared.

    Taking your life isn’t courageous. Living with ALS and sharing the love of Christ and the hope of heaven with others…takes a lot more courage and gumption!
    I’d love to hear your wife’s perspective in one of your blogs. Thank you for giving us a personal glimpse into your life!

    • Thank you, Karen. Yes, I thought the movie sent a message that this is what selfless people do… I know it was fiction, but I thought, with all his money, influence and connections…, imagine how many people he could have helped and encouraged to keep fighting through their trials. Needless to say, I would have written a much different ending 🙂 I read that the author of the novel had never even met a quadriplegic. Maybe she would have written a much different movie if she had the chance to meet Joni.

      As I’ve written in other posts, if serving others is true Christianity, which I believe it is, my wife is the best Christian I’ve ever met.

  70. You are a blessing to many, Bill! Praying God’s grace and comfort and strength for you and your family today! Thanks for being a good example to us and encouraging us!

  71. Thank you so much for your encouragement! I also have ALS and am struggling with figuring out why I’m “still here” when so many with ALS pass away so quickly. I’ve been diagnosed for 11 years….

  72. I am always blessed by your words. They have consistently been the very Words of God I needed at the time I receive them. You do indeed bring me Unshakable Hope!

  73. Thank you so much for this post. It is encouraging and realistic. I, too, admire Joni. She is amazing, indeed. But so are you.

  74. This is great! Prayers for no more hospitalizations in 2017! On a side note: I remember watching the movie about Joni Eareckson when I was little (showing my age) and how she would paint with the brush in her mouth. I don’t know why but that has always stuck with me.

  75. Thank you for this.

  76. I was just thinking about you a day or so ago and wondering if you were okay. It’s good to hear from you.

    You are a wonderful ambassador for Christ just as the name of your blog indicates….that we need to have ‘unshakeable hope’ when we live each day…many times living through adversity believing that God has a purpose for each person.. Take care… Diane

    • Thank you, Diane. It takes me longer to bounce back from each illness/hospital visit. I’m still pretty much having to use my breathing mask 24/7, but I feel pretty good, relatively speaking 🙂

      “You are a wonderful ambassador for Christ…” Thank you for that, Diane, that’s the greatest of all compliments.

  77. Bill – just with what you’ve written here, you are making a significant difference in lives, a difference that has eternal consequences. You are glorifying God through your illness and suffering. I thank God for your courage and willingness to fight. And your dear wife, too! Caregivers are unsung heros. May God continue to be glorified in your fight. There is a reward coming, disproportionate to what you have ‘lost’.

    • Thank you very much, Maria. As you might imagine, since I cannot move or speak…, I observe, read and think. In the hospital, I did a lot of thinking – I did a lot of thinking about heaven and hell. Not only the eternal hell, but the hell that so many are on this earth. I was thinking that if I recovered, I was going to renew my efforts to do what little I can to save people from both the hell they’re in now and the one to come.

  78. Bill, did you write this???

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