Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Why Me?

I’ve become convinced that for a Christian to retain hope in the midst of a trial, he or she must believe that God allowed the trial for a purpose; a purpose greater than what Christ would have been able to accomplish in and through that person apart from the trial.

“…even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith…may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

They might phrase it differently, but I think every Christian that goes through a difficult trial will eventually ask “Why me?”  But I’ve learned that our motive behind asking this seemingly simple question tells a lot about how we view God and how we view ourselves.

The first man asks the question like this: “Why me; out of over 6 billion people in the world, why did I get ALS (or whatever)?” He’s really asking, “Why didn’t God put this on one of the other 6 billion + people?” This man has a warped view of God and an exalted view of himself. He views his trial as pointless and thought that he was somehow exempt from the suffering of humanity.

I know what I said about this first man sounds harsh and judgmental, but I know this man well; in a spiritual and emotional sense, I wrestled with him for several months after being diagnosed with ALS. Thankfully, with the help of God’s word, wise counsel from Christian friends and a well-timed conversation with our then non-Christian next-door neighbors, I began to see that there was a purpose behind my trial and I defeated that “woe is me” man that was trying to get into my head. (More about our next-door neighbors further down).

The second man asks the question like this: “Why me; what’s God’s purpose behind allowing this horrible trial?” This man has the correct view of God and of his place in the world. As a Christian who knows the Bible, this man knows that God wouldn’t have allowed this trial unless He had a purpose.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

That verse can only be true if we have an eternal (“Big Picture”) view of our trial. God still heals and performs miracles, and I believe that we should always pray for that result. But regardless of the outcome, God can bring about eternal good from every trial. In a hundred years, the eternal good that came from our trial will be the only thing that matters.

Trials cause the person going through the trial and those that are close to that person, to focus more on the spiritual and the eternal things because, by comparison, the temporal and the material things begin to look more and more insignificant.

god's purpose“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)

Back to our next-door neighbors: Mike and Lorraine were not followers of Christ when we met them. We did our Christian duty and invited them to church and tried to share the “Good news” with them; even our girls (then 4 and 7) invited them to church, but all to no avail. (They later told us that they mocked us in private. I could relate; I once mocked Christians too. Let’s be honest: making fun of Christians is so easy).

But after I was diagnosed, they began to reexamine the faith that was sustaining our family through this trial. Lorraine told me; “…When you were diagnosed with ALS I began to see a man who held no anger with the God that ‘allowed’ this to happen. Then you began to demonstrate trust in God’s plan, I saw your faith and I saw 2 little girls accept what God was doing in your lives and I began to wonder how such young children could love God unconditionally. I opened my heart first to the possibility that this might be good thing for me as well. Then I finally got it and allowed my brain to accept the basic truth that God is only good, loving and faithful…”

Mike and Lorraine committed to following Christ and now faithfully attend church and share their faith with others. (Now people probably make fun of them). Would they have committed to following Christ if we had not gone through this trial? Only God knows the answer to questions like that. The only thing I know for sure is that this trial has strengthened my faith and given me more confidence for sharing that faith.

But I admit that trials can sometimes feel like you’re serving a prison sentence; especially when you have ALS and you’re imprisoned in your own body. But the Apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament while imprisoned and many of his fellow prisoners and the guards that observed Paul became followers of Christ. Only Jesus can spread a message of hope through a prisoner!

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14)

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215 thoughts on “Why Me?

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  1. Pingback: “Why Me?” 9/28/2014 by Bill Sweeney | God's group

  2. This is a hard lesson for people today to take in. Our culture expects a ready fix, a happy ending right on time. Those of us who struggle w/ permanent problems of one type or another can actually feel that we’ve let our friends and relations — even our doctors — down. That’s not, of course, the reality. Suffering (w/ Christ there to sustain us) deepens our faith, and our understanding of the eternal. You are a role model in this, Bill. Thank you.

  3. Pingback: A Purpose for Pain? | joyemarie

  4. Reblogged this on Christian Warrior and commented:
    “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. ”

    Quoted from this site.
    I also understand this, God allows them for what they can do in ours and others lives for good.

  5. Thank you, I too see the hand of God in how others see me dealing with my illness.

  6. Reblogged this on Prodigal Chick and commented:
    A must read!!

  7. Thank you….oh my goodness what a blessing your post is!!! I am the second questioner oh lord what is your purpose in all of these horrific trials and extreme tribulations I know you have one and it is for your glory. Lord keep me steady and straight through this vast desert wasteland.
    Again thank you for your post it has lifted me up from the pit of despair an the valley of “oh no!”. Blessings to you and yours.
    Linda

  8. Brother Bill..I hope you and your family are being blessed

  9. I remember asking “Why me?” when wondering why I had a hysterectomy at age eleven. After drawing closer to the Lord, while in my upper 20’s, I began to think, “Why not me? Why would I want anyone else to go through this?” I absolutely believe that the freedom we experience in the abundant grace of God frees us to move from being victims to becoming victorious. Thank you for such a wonderful post!

  10. Very inspiring and humbling! May God give you strength and cheers.
    Kind regards.

  11. Thank you for sharing your trial and triumph through Jesus Christ. I have a blog I hope is a blessing to you. God bless you and your family.
    http://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/what-in-the-world/

  12. “The second man asks the question like this: “Why me; what’s God’s purpose behind allowing this horrible trial?”

    The core and root of my dilemma right now, simply and beautifully illustrated by you. Thanks for finding me Bill: I look forward to whatever words of inspiration the Lord puts in your mouth in the weeks and months ahead.

    • Thank you, Don. To be honest, I don’t fully understand the purpose of why God allowed this trial, but when we know His nature and understand that He wouldn’t allow bad things without having a greater purpose in mind, that’s enough to get us through and keep us seeking…

  13. Love this testimony Bill. Love how God works through us when we follow. Thank you!!

  14. How are you and the family Brother Bill..

  15. Almost 20 years ago, when tragedy struck in my life, I learned to face the situation by turning the question,”Why me?” around. Instead, I learned to ask,”Why not me?” I realized that I wasn’t any more special or privileged than anyone else and this made me stronger. Thank you for sharing your story, and for demonstrating the positive things that can result when we let God plant hope in our hearts.

    • “I realized that I wasn’t any more special or privileged than anyone else and this made me stronger.”
      That is exactly right, Tina! Isn’t it strange how that simple revelation can be so freeing? I don’t believe we can ever feel and act on true empathy until we come to this realization.

  16. this a wonderful message Bill. I have struggled with serious mental illness and addictions, but the Lord saved me four years ago. Im hoping to share my story and give hope. I think its an incredible testimony to our God that you still love him and find joy in being used for his purposes even after such a difficult diagnosis.

  17. I love this post!

    When it took my husband and I 10 years to receive an answer to our prayer for a child…I asked, “Why me? Why did it take so long???” But, I know now that by believing it was God’s will for us, and trusting Him…His timing was perfect!! It’s helped us to see how precious a child is!! I teach, minister in kids church, and direct a drama team where I can be used to encourage children!!

    It’s also taught us not to sweat the small stuff!! And in God’s eyes, since He can handle everything…it’s all small stuff!

  18. Your steadfast belief and faith amaze me. God bless you.

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