God’s Last Enemy

As most of my regular readers know, I have been battling ALS for 24 years. I was diagnosed in 1996, just weeks after turning thirty-six. How’s that for a birthday gift? The neurologist over the ALS Clinic in Houston, Texas, told me that I had 3-5 years to live. This relentless disease progressed pretty much how the neurologist predicted it would—except for the part about my dying within five years. 

Ten months after being diagnosed, because of some painful and embarrassing falls and my voice beginning to sound like I had a few too many, I was forced to resign from the job I loved as a Regional Sales Manager in the grocery industry. I finally figured out that it probably wasn’t a good reflection on the company to have a salesman walking funny and slurring his words. When I finally resigned, my boss was probably thinking, “It’s about time!”. 

Mary and I took a much-needed vacation to Hawaii the month after I resigned. The day before leaving, I tripped walking across the living room and broke my clavicle. Another painful fall, but because I was alone in the room, at least it wasn’t embarrassing. I fought hard not to use a wheelchair, and I have scars to show for it. I called that a “fight of faith”, but the truth is, it was just pride. Pride is a deceptive foe who enjoys dressing up as good and godly virtues. 

As I mentioned, the course of ALS went as the neurologist predicted it would. Walking and talking became a slow and deliberate process. Typing on my computer, even pecking away with one finger, soon became impossible. Even worse, I lost my ability to turn the pages of a book. That was a tough loss—no more reading my Bible in the morning or reading books throughout the day. Before upgrading to this kind of computer that uses a camera to track my eye movements, I used a system that tracked a little silver dot on my forehead. I then discovered a little online startup company named Amazon, which sold a limited selection of e-books, including the Bible, which I was able to download. I also bought a Bible software on CD. I’m so thankful for the technology that allows me to carry on. 

Over the last twenty-four years, I spent a lot of time figuring out what this thing we call faith is. With a death sentence hanging over my head, I thought it was a good time to figure this faith thing out.

The first and most important thing I discovered is that I’d never have strong faith until I understood God’s true nature. We get to know God’s nature by reading His word. For example, Galatians chapter five gives us some of the characteristics of His nature and tells us that if we are Christ’s disciples, we should be becoming more and more like Him:

“The fruit of the Spirit (God’s nature) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23).

But this raises a question: if God is love, kind, good, faithful, and gentle, why did He allow me, a hard-working husband and father with two young daughters to support, to get ALS? 

Even worse, my daughter and son-in-law are friends with three Christian couples who have little boys (ages 5, 6, and 7) battling cancer. What’s up with that? 

For the follower of Christ, God is our Heavenly Father. If God is our Father and His nature is as good as the Bible tells us, why would He allow His children to get these horrible diseases or die in tragic accidents? 

I’ve concluded that none of this is His will for humanity! 

How have I come to this conclusion? 

Simple. I took a peek at the end of The Book, which reveals God’s will:

“I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4).

God’s will is for no more mourning, no more crying, no more pain, and no more death! 

However, for a short time longer, we are still living in a fallen world. Jesus suffered, died, and rose from the dead to end everything that is not God’s will. It’s a fait accompli—a done deal! 

“The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

That’s right; death is God’s enemy! Also, everything that causes crying, mourning, and pain are His enemies too. God hates these enemies so much that He sent His only begotten Son as a sacrifice to put an end to them. This is the Good News I discovered in 1983.

If you are a follower of Christ and going through a difficult time right now, don’t lose hope, your Heavenly Father is on your side. The age of miracles has not passed. Mary and I have seen and experienced so many undeniable miracles. 

You might ask, “But you’ve had ALS for twenty-four years; why haven’t you been healed?” 

I don’t know the answer, but it was discovering that the Lord was in the ring fighting with me that kept me “fighting the good fight of faith.” In addition to His Spirit inside of us, urging us on, He helps us fight by recruiting prayer warriors to help hold us up. He also sends us generous people to help us with any needs we might have. He sends others to encourage us. By these pieces of help coming together, His grace becomes sufficient. What we call “our trial” is not just about us if we’re followers of Christ. 

To those of you who have been in this fight with us, Mary and I are eternally thankful for you. 

“When this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). 

About Bill Sweeney

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

Posted on December 4, 2020, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on alighttomyway and commented:
    The writer of this blog, Bill Sweeney, went home. His physical death is an eternal victory because he is in the presence of His Savior, Jesus. I imagine he is lifting his once paralyzed hands in praise, singing at the top of his lungs, and throwing his arms around Jesus about now. He has put on the imperishable, and has put on immortality! I hope you’ll take time to read what was meant to be his last post. And I hope it speaks to you like it did to me. I’m going to miss this guy!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wishing you transcendent blessings and joy, Bill and Mary, as well as gratitude for all you’ve taught us with your words and examples. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so much for this powerful encouragement brother Bill… WOW. May Jesus Christ continue to strengthen you by His Holy Spirit in your inner man and may He be glorified 🙏🏼

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My Dad told me a true story about a diminutive county “character” in his west Texas hometown who would go up to complete male strangers and say, “Write yer name down here on this pad for me. I’m makin’ a list.” The stranger would ask, “Why do you want to know my name?” “Shorty” Butler would reply, “I’m makin’ a list of people I can WHUP!” They would invariably respond, “So you think you can whup me?” He would counter with, “Well, I can leave your name off my list if you want…”

    Bill, you’ve been whuppin’ on the devil for twenty-four years! Every time you rise above your circumstances in the grace and power and anointing of God and speak LIFE and encouragement to others, you expose “Ol’ Ned” for the coward and liar that he is. Preachin’ don’t get no better’n this where I come from! Proud to have you in my posse, pilgrim!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a wonderful message of hope!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Bill,

    May the Lord keep opening doors for you that wouldn’t have opened unless the Lord closed other ones. I know I battle with why things happen but remember the Lord sees the whole story. He is not careless or negligent and let evil just attack His children. Everything has a purpose and is key to the whole story of salvation.

    Thank you for letting the Lord make you strong in weakness.

    Merry Christmas, brother.

    Gary

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for blessing us again by sharing the truth of God’s Word. Wishing you and your family a happy Christmas. Peace, strength and joy in Christ our Saviour. 🎄🎁🎉❄✨

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Amen! Thank you for sharing your journey of laying down pride, discovering faith, and being confident that our God has overcome today and forever. Every post you write encourages so many to keep fighting the good fight.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Billy, you have been a beacon of light to all of your followers. Thank you for enlightening us with your faith and understanding of the written word. I was lucky to have seen you evolve from a young boy into an amazing man, husband, father and grandfather. I appreciate your encouraging words of the Bible which is difficult to understand. Sending you, Mary and your beautiful family hugs. Christmas blessings to you all. Love, Cheryl Turner

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you for another enlightening post Bill. This year has been difficult for everyone but none of us has struggled as much as you. We are thinking of you and keep you and Mary in our hearts always. Love , Ellen

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’ve never thought of death being God’s enemy. Once again you’ve enlightened me and encouraged me. I can’t wait to be in that place where there’s no more pain and mourning. I can’t wait to be rid of this dusty old wheelchair, and I’m sure you feel the same. And yet, haven’t these wheelchairs served an incredible purpose for each of us while on this side. My life has been exceptionally difficult at times, but it has enriched my gratitude tenfold. When I read your blog posts that same gratitude shines through for you. Thank you for your faith that enlightens all of us.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Thank you Bill. I loved that Lauren was with you this week as you wrote this post. How proud you must be. I hear Mary was off screen when I was online with Lauren – had I known I would have said hi ♥️.
    This is a beautiful post. The prayers of the righteous are effective and powerful. Death isn’t really Gods enemy because God has no equal… I know you know that though. I’m grateful for technology ♥️ especially this year, but generally too, allowing us so much more access to materials like your blog and hence your insight and richness of thought. Happy belated thanksgiving ♥️ blessings Beth x

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Yes we live in a fallen world. Everyone who is born will at some time die. But Jesus defeated death for us and one day we will be with him in heaven.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. “God’s will is for no more mourning, no more crying, no more pain, and no more death!”

    Praise God! I needed this reminder right now. Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Bill,
    Thanks for giving us all a reality check in what has been a challenging year for many of us. Although our concerns are real, a broader, longer view gives us hope,
    Love & miss you all
    Janet

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bill, I was sharing a little bit of your story with the Bible study class I teach every other Friday. I want you to know you have some real prayer warriors who have put you on their prayer lists 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. You and Mary are wonders, Bill–ALWAYS inspiring! Thank you for continuing to write. I love the way you give testimony to many undeniable miracles–in spite of not receiving the one most desired. That is a picture of unusual grace and submission not often seen! I’m sure I speak for many: Praise God for you two!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Hallelujah! O death, where is your sting? We have eternal hope in Jesus.

    Amen to this true thought – “I don’t know the answer, but it was discovering that the Lord was in the ring fighting with me that kept me “fighting the good fight of faith.”

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Thank you for a very awesome and faith filled post. I believe Jesus Christ has defeated death, He now has the keys of death. Revelation 1:18. “And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” And in 2 Timothy 1:10
    “And which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” I pray that the Lord will continually increase your faith in Jesus name. Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. One day my brother, what we cannot see now will be made clear. God, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen you to be a vessel through which a great many seeds have been planted.

    I have no doubt that many of us who are physically able to do more for the Kingdom than you will blush at our meager tally of souls compared to yours.

    I count it a high privelege to say I know such a warrior as you. May the Lord bless you and Mary is my earnest prayer.

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Bill – I’m eternally grateful that the Novarks introduced me to your ministry. Every single blog without fail inspires and challenges me, as well as reminding me of the preciousness of each day and the power of love. Once again, your anointed words have taken me to high places – places borne of the Spirit, not of the flesh.

    Thank you sir – though Heaven awaits in God’s perfect timing, I and many others are grateful He has loaned us your talents and your beautiful spirit.

    Prayers always for you and Mary. You are loved and appreciated far beyond what you might imagine!

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Christine Lomas

    Thank you so much again Bill for sharing your wonderful faith in Jesus Christ. Your words have encouraged me not to give up the ‘good fight’. I recently watched a video on you tube which also inspired me – Lionheart – David Francisco and Joni Eareckson Tada. A very moving interview with Joni in which she says that God will never, ever allow anything bad to happen to our souls. Whatever happens to us now, this life is temporary, but our life with God in Christ is forever. God bless you Bill and thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. God bless you, Bill. I look forward to worshiping the King with you when that last enemy is defeated. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  24. What has helped and comforted me, Bill, is the revelation that the victory of faith means assurance “in the midst of” God’s enemies and ours even before we see them all “under His feet” and ours. That day will surely come, as sure as God is God and Jesus Christ is Lord. Till then we enter and enjoy the Rest of faith.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. I, too, am so thankful for technology! My faith wouldn’t be the same without reading your shared thoughts that are from the core of God’s heart!
    My favorite Scripture is Psalms 27:4
    “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple”‭‭. Being with Jesus, in His presence, no matter the circumstances! When I think of you and Mary I’m reminded of his faithful disciples! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  26. BRILLIANTLY stated! Thank you for your heart and for your transparency. May God richly bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Thank you Bill for your constant inspiration. I think of you and Mary often since you live not that far from me. I can’t help but be encouraged when I think of all you have been through and how strong your faith is. Prayers and love to you and Mary!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Cor. 4: 7-10).

    You are a perfect illustration of this verse, Bill, which is the explanation for why we suffer in life, despite the fact that God loves us. When we are tested, our faith is deepened and our lives shine as a light to the world. Your own life shines like that, Bill. All the rest of us are profoundly grateful.

    Your friend,

    Anna

    Liked by 7 people

  29. Bless you dear friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Your posts are always awakening for me. There is a lot to be grateful for and one of it is the hope we have in Christ.
    Blessings to you, sir. You are an inspiration.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. You are a remarkable person. Thank you for sharing your journey and inspiring everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Bill and Mary, I don’t know where my faith would be, were it not for your teachers’ hearts and your words of insights and encouragement. I just know God always gives His children what they need and when they need it. On That Day, when we all see the toils come to end, we will see clearly. In the meantime, you are a mighty tool in God’s hand to help us make sense of the seemingly senseless. I love you both.

    Liked by 7 people

  33. 24-years IS the miracle! God has a way of using miracles to draw people to him, and YOU are an instrument of God’s will….maybe not the instrument we may have wished for him to play the way he did, but it worked! If you don’t believe that, go ahead and read the above post over again, or any of the dozens of others posted herein….God’s WILLiam! #blessed

    Liked by 5 people

  34. Bill, your unshakable faith is both inspiring and encouraging! Praying for you and Mary! Every time I see a post from you I know that God will use you to speak truth and life to me. Thank you for this post! Love and blessings to you and Mary!!!!!!

    Liked by 6 people

  35. Amen!!! Brother! Amen!! Thank you for this reminder!!
    (For some reason I’m having a difficult time “liking” posts! This one needs a LOVE “button”!)

    Liked by 4 people

  36. Thank you for your unfailing and constant truths and words of encouragement, Bill. I pray for you and Mary everyday, morning and night.

    Liked by 6 people

  37. Your words are powerful, Bill! I love the way you said that the Lord is in the ring fighting with you. I believe that to be true as well. Thank you for sharing your story … I know it encourages so many of us.

    Liked by 4 people

  38. A wonderfully encouraging post, Bill. Much thanks for it, for you, and may the Lord bless you and your family richly in these challenging days!

    Liked by 6 people

  39. Bill I’m so happy to see this publication. GOD is Our father.

    Liked by 4 people

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