I want to introduce you to one particular and very inspirational blog that I look so forward to reading; some things just need to be shared!
Bill and I originally connected when he found my blog and pressed “liked”. When I read his blog, I was just overwhelmed with emotion. I deeply appreciate his perspective, his ability to choose joy, his life-learned wisdom on the topic of hope and his kind, gentle spirit that radiates from his words. I hope that someday, I might have the privilege and honor to meet this man and his beautiful family.
I’d like you to get to know Bill, so I have taken the liberty to copy his “About” but I would strongly encourage you to check out his posts. You will be so blessed.
In late October of 1996, just weeks after my 36th birthday, I was diagnosed with a terminal disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. After hearing the long and difficult-to-pronounce name of this disease I understood why people use the abbreviation of ALS or call it “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” (after the famous New York Yankee’s player that died from it).
The diagnosis came as a complete surprise because I had always enjoyed such great health, I didn’t even have a family doctor and had never spent one day in the hospital. Our life was going well; our 11 year marriage was great, our daughters (ages 7 & 4) were healthy and happy; a few years earlier we built a new home and I had been promoted to the regional sales manager position I had wanted for 10 years. Every aspect of our life was working well; we were living our small part of the “American Dream.”
I quickly discovered that trials don’t just affect one area of our life; a health crisis impacts our finances, our emotional and spiritual life and our relationships etc. Every part of our lives are connected to one another like parts of an engine and one part breaking effects the performance of the whole engine.
Within a year of being diagnosed I could no longer walk or talk so I had to resign from my job. At that time, you didn’t begin receiving disability payments until 7 months after resigning from your job. Mary worked, but my income accounted for almost 70 percent of our total income. In addition to our usual bills, we now had mounting medical and credit card bills.
Three different attorneys advised us to file for bankruptcy, but neither of us felt a peace about doing this. Instead we decided to sell virtually everything we could to get the bill collectors off our backs. We sold our camper, our new car and finally we sold our home and with the proceeds and help from family and friends we were able to payoff all of our medical and credit card bills. Financially speaking, we literally started from scratch with less than we had when we got married then 12 years earlier. But, through all that and still to this day, God has proven His faithfulness time after time. If He’s done this for us, He’ll do it for you also!
Even though ALS has drastically impacted my life and that of my wife and our two daughters, I don’t believe anyone should allow a disease or any life-challenge to define who they are. To do so is to give that disease or challenge more credit than it deserves and it’s the first step on the dead-end road of hopelessness.
This trial has taught us that the only way to experience genuine and consistent hope, peace and joy in the midst of a trial is to view our life and situation through God’s eyes. For me, learning this was a long and difficult, but rewarding process; an ongoing process that will continue to the day I go to be with God.
My motive for starting this blog is to pass along some of the lessons I’ve learned through the course of this trial and hopefully help others avoid some of the detrimental (hope-stealing) mistakes I’ve made.
These are important lessons for everyone to learn because, as I heard someone say, if you’re not going through a trial now, a trial is coming. I know that’s not good news, but it’s the truth. But, as I hope to show, we don’t have to fear trials because God can handle anything that this life throws our way and we can handle them too if we see the trials through the eyes of Christ!
Why did I choose the name “Unshakable Hope” for my blog?
I don’t believe God causes trials, but He clearly does allow them for reasons I don’t believe we will ever fully understand, at least not in this life. But, whatever other reasons God has for allowing trials, I discovered two big things that He accomplishes through our trials; He helps us reset our priorities and forms our character. (Obviously He had a lot of work to do on me).
God helps us reset our priorities (through trials) by “…the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain…we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken…” (Hebrews 12:27-28)
I certainly discovered that my health, finances and many other things I unknowingly was putting faith in (prior to this trial) could be shaken.
Through the following character shaping process (in our trials), I discovered that hope is one of the things that cannot be shaken; hence the name “Unshakable Hope.” “…we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…” (Romans 5:3-5)