I was thinking about Good Friday when I woke up early yesterday morning. I also thought about people using the phrase “Thank God It’s Friday” to celebrate the end of a work week and the start of the weekend.

Even though the progression of my ALS forced me to resign from my job over twenty-one years, I can still remember that TGIF feeling. Whether I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a Friday evening or landing at the airport after being gone all week on a business trip, it felt great to be done with the work week.

Then I thought about the darkest Friday of my life. After three days of grueling tests, which included cutting muscle samples out of my thigh without anesthetic and a spinal tap that left me with a debilitating headache for three days, I was exhausted. Mary and I sat at the foot of a hospital bed waiting for the head neurologist to give us the verdict. I remember it all so vividly, I heard footsteps, many footsteps, echoing off the walls of the hallway. Then, like a jury returning to a courtroom, the neurologist, flanked by a group of young interns, entered my hospital room. He told us the tests showed that I had ALS. He went on to say that I would continually get weaker, be confined to a wheelchair, lose my ability to speak and that I would die in three to five years.

That was not a Friday I was thanking God for.

Two thousand years ago, as the disciples were looking at Jesus on the cross, do you think they called that day “Good Friday?”

I don’t think so either.

I’m sure there was a lot of confusion and crying on that dark day. Maybe they were like Mary and I on the long drive home from the medical center that Friday evening; not even looking at one another for fear of dissolving into tears.

Like Mary and I, I’m sure they were thinking, “This isn’t the way it was supposed to be.”

To add insult to injury, as Jesus was hanging on the cross and, the disciples were surrounded by people that were mocking Him and celebrating His crucifixion:
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
“He saved others; He cannot save Himself.”
“…come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

For the disciples, this day was anything but TGIF.

But Jesus knew differently.

“…for the joy set before Him (Jesus) endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2)

It was “for the joy set before Him” that Jesus was able to endure the insults, the flogging, the beatings, and being nailed to the cross.

It wasn’t until Sunday morning that the disciples understood that God’s plan was so much bigger and better than they could have ever imagined:

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

We can endure the cross we have to bear, no matter how heavy it might be, if we “fix our eyes on Jesus” and focus on “the joy set before us” – eternal life with the One who suffered and died for us.

This does not mean that we have to abandon our hopes and dreams for this life. Far from it. God wants to bless us in this life too. But, making a commitment to follow Christ is the only Unshakable Hope that God offers for this life and the next.

If you haven’t done so already, today is a great day to make this commitment.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Originally posted April 2017

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 April 19, 2019, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 86 Comments.

  1. Hi Bill,
    Thank you, for reading my blog posts I am honored. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and find your writing to be very entertaining and thought-provoking. You have such a good attitude and spirit. May God continue to pour his blessings into your and Mary’s lives.

  2. Unshakable Hope…on a Friday…for which we thank God!


  3. Very eloquent & well articulated Bill.

    Wow! I was thinking about you during prayer this morning Bill & I just now see you visited my blog last evening.

    Thank you so much! You are an inspiration. Blessings.

  4. Thank you for sharing and for the follow, God truly is our unshakable hope, our firm foundation when all else crumbles. May God bless you and your family ❤

  5. This was a very moving piece. I see you have survived far beyond the medical professions prognosis. I too have done so. The following link will tell you more of what I mean:

  6. Another great post Bill, thank you. I hope you had a nice Easter.

  7. What an amazing thought provoking post. Love it and I love what Jesus did for me (us) on that Friday. Pure agony. Even ALS cannot compare to what He bore for me. I praise Him in the midst of this trial.

  8. “But, making a commitment to follow Christ is the only Unshakable Hope that God offers for this life and the next.” Amen! Thanks for giving us a glimpse of what the Lord is doing in and through your life. Blessings.

  9. Hi Bill! Just read this today, was away at my parents’. Thank you for opening up your life and through it the life of Christ.
    I love to look at the flag counter – I can’t help but look for the Armenians….there are two!
    What a ministry, what an outreach. You could never glorify God before so many had He not crushed and bruised your life.
    Thank you brother, for Unshakable Hope.
    Warm regards 🌹 to lovely Mary…who’ll receive heaven’s ‘Help mate’ award!

    • Thank you for your comments, Lisa. God can and, if we allow Him to, will use our trials for good. Romans 8:28 is true! Only two Armenians? If we count you it’s three 🙂 Mary will definitely get a help mate award.

  10. Bill, I know it isn’t your intention, but I feel like such a lightweight when I read your words. I tend to be detached much of the time. In life. In faith. Yet I know it’s not merely the amount of faith but the object of one’s faith that bears the weight. Your story is one I look forward to reading. Even on the Tuesday after, He is still risen! Grace, mercy, and peace in Christ be yours to the full!

    • Thank you for your comments, Jerry. So true, it is the object of our faith, Jesus, that gives us strength – He is risen indeed! Is there any better news than this?

  11. Bill – I know that we cannot possibly understand how hard it is for you to live with this ALS. You show the strength that ONLY can cove from the Lord. And I thank you for the struggle you accept to write us. May recalling all that we have and are in Christ give us joy which then produces the hourly strength we need to endure.

    • Thank you, Maria. Yes, it’s definitely God’s strength that keeps Mary and I going. Without a God-given purpose to spread the message of hope in Christ, I’d probably have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning 🙂

  12. Hi Bill and Mary, I pray for you both each morning and evening. I cannot imagine what your days and nights are like, but I ask God to give you hope and a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit each day.
    Bill, are you still working on a book?
    Nancy Turner, Moody Radio

    • Thank you for your comments and for your prayers, Nancy. I am still working on the book, but add that to your prayer list, please. We are so thankful for the prayers of family and friends like you.

  13. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now and I’m always encouraged by your heart on display for all to read, it truly reflects the heart of God. Today after services I spoke to a sister in Christ who told me her daughter in law has ALS, and I mentioned your blog to her, I hope she will pass on this information.

    My sister n law has had MS for about 15 years, she is also raising her adopted 3 year old granddaughter, through it all she is never one to complain, I see God’s strength & overwhelming peace in her.

    I’m grateful & thankful for your blog, God is using you tremendously, one day ALL this too shall pass, I’m reading currently reading the one year bible (Joshua) and wanted to share this scripture, it spoke to my heart…ALL God’s promises are true and never fail, He is our living hope.🙏🙏✝️✝️

    God Bless,

    Sara Zapata

    ““Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
    ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭23:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    • Thank you for your comments, Sara. People like your sister-in-law are amazing! Mary is relatively healthy and gets exhausted trying to keep up with our grandchildren when they come to visit. I can’t imagine having MS and raising a grandchild. A lot of grace needed. Thank you for sharing the passage from Joshua, I love that passage.

  14. Hope isn’t anything to take lightly. People search for it their whole lives, settling for what the world doles out in pinches that disappear with the first harsh thought or blame. i can’t imagine what it was like for you and Mary to experience that Friday together, but I see the man this side of that prognosis, doing what the Lord has called you to do, being His reflection of joy and hope in a world of darkness. Thank you so much, Bill, for persevering when quitting seemed easier. For staying the course so that we might learn from your faithfulness. Jesus is risen indeed.

  15. Easter blessings on you, Mary, and the family, Bill. He is risen!

  16. All I can say is ‘Amen’ Bill… Diane

  17. Your faith is so encouraging. This was beautifully spoken. God is so gracious. Have a very blessed Resurrection Sunday! Praise God, He has risen!!!

  18. Bill, Thank you for sharing your life with us. ❤️

  19. That is beautiful Bill, truly a masterpiece of love is our God

  20. Thank you, Bill, for this wonderful reminder. Giving thanks for the everlasting HOPE that is ours because of Him. Happy Easter to you and yours . . .❤️

  21. Thank you Bill, and Mary. Love, hugs, and blessings to you both.
    And Happy Easter.

  22. You too keep joy set before you, Bill, as you practice the presence of God, focus on the positive, celebrate your blessings, and even find the humor in life–in spite of your circumstances. And I know you’re looking forward to the supreme joy of seeing Jesus face to face and hearing him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (which you have been). With you on this Good Friday, I praise God for the hope that does NOT disappoint! Resurrection Day is coming!

    • Thank you, Nancy. Regardless of what we’re going through, we have to find the joy provided to Christ’s followers through His resurrection. Happy Easter.

  23. Amen Bill! I am so thankful we have overcome the world through Him! God bless!

  24. Thank you Bill for the truths of this post. Christ is risen indeed. Grace and blessings to you and yours this Easter..

  25. Thank you once again, dear Bill. Shared.

  26. Bill, Praying Easter blessing over you and your family. Thank you for sharing this sobering and yet hopeful post. I can never thank God enough for sending His Son to pay for my sins. The best I can offer is to live a surrendered life to Him and continue to grow in His love and grace as I serve Him.

    Your writing always bring a smile to my face 🙂

  27. What a blessing we have received in our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection! Anything else pales in comparison!

    • Exactly. Happy Easter, Ansonia.
      “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

  28. Thank you for re-posting this Bill. It is such a valuable lesson to hold on to continually.
    This might be a Good Friday that was remembered for negative reasons, but Praise Jesus, SUNDAY IS COMING. We as believers all have that secure hope in Christ.
    God’s Blessings Bill, to you and your family. Together we will always remember and proclaim.

  29. Great post, Bill. Yes – we can face anything with the unshakable hope of Jesus rising again.

  30. ❤️ Happy Easter to you and your family!

  31. Eight years ago, my husband had a cat scan on Easter Sunday.As he slid into the device, he told the technician that “Jesus is risen.” Nothing else was said until the scan was done. Then the tech said, ” i get it. It’s an Easter thing.” Yes, yes it is. It is the source of our hope and joy. Happy Easter, Bill! And thank you for your words of truth.

  32. Vincent Sweeney

    Thank you Bill,

    Happy Easter and cant wait to see you in a few weeks.

  33. “…For the joy set before Him …” this part of the verse jumped out to me. How many times do I look past “joy set before me” and into my circumstances. Bill, your words spoke to my heart (as alway). I want to be a person who looks at that joy, rather than let the enemy show me all the “what ifs”. Thank you for your reminders, both in the way you write and in the way you (and Mary) live! Love you, brother!

  34. Wonderful. Amen and amen. Enjoy the rest in Him this weekend, Brother.

    David NY

  35. Beautifully said! Blessings to you and your family as you continue to endure and embrace that HOPE! Happy Easter!

  36. Linda gerhardt

    Blessings on this resurrection week of remembrance,the winds are howling right now in central Florida,and all is well anchored in Our Lord.Blessings ,my the Lord Come soon ,Linda Gerhardt.

  37. Thanks Bill, may God bless you and your family in a significant way this Easter.

  38. Debbie Johnson

    Bill, That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a personal perspective. I have known you pre-ALS and through all the years since, and I know this comes from your heart. Bless you for sharing your life and God’s word. You have a gift of writing modern-day parables.

  39. I can relate to that day for you and your wife. It was much the same for my husband and I when he was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. I don’t remember if it was a Friday but today, “Good Friday,” brings mixed emotions for me. Sadness for His suffering and thankfulness that He did for me. God bless you and Happy Resurrection Day.

  40. This is faith. This is truth. This is love. Jesus the Messiah is my unshakable hope.

    I’m praying for you and Mary. Thank you for the encouraging work you do.

  41. Thank you for this powerful reminder of Christ’s great gift to us on Good Friday, Bill. Wishing you and Mary a blessed Easter! A.

  42. Thank you. Jesus is our only hope, in this life and the next.

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