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)

Opportunities In Trials

In the midst of a trial, the greatest temptation we face is to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. I don’t believe this is ever God’s will.

We tend to view trials as a kind of imprisonment, thinking our life is on hold until the day we’re released from the grip of the life challenge. ALS has made me a virtual prisoner of my own body for the last 18 years. It has been a very cruel warden. But I look around me and see other people fighting illness or trying to overcome addictions, depression, abuse, debt and so many other cruel masters.

We must continue to hope and pray for freedom from whatever is trying to “hold us,” and we should do everything in our power to move toward that goal. But, in the meantime, we should look for opportunities for God to use us right where we are. This is what the Apostle Paul did, and I’m convinced it’s what God wants us to do.

It was from prison that Paul wrote the following: “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:12)

We don’t usually associate the word “progress” with imprisonment or any kind of trial, but I believe that we should. If we wait until we “have it all together” before we try to help and give hope to others, many will go without help and die without hope.

Would I be a hypocrite telling people that God still heals when I’ve been held in the grip of a terminal disease for 18 years?

Let me answer that with another question: Was Paul a hypocrite for writing about freedom in Christ from the depths of what was likely a rat infested dungeon?

Paul was almost stoned to death by an angry mob and severely beaten other times. He also suffered from what he called “a thorn in his flesh” (many Bible scholars say this “thorn” was poor eye sight). Regardless, it’s unlikely that Paul was the handsome and strong man depicted in the Bible movies. After spending much of his time in prison and enduring countless beatings, he was likely pale and scarred, and probably in pain 24/7. Yet, God used this suffering servant to heal and give hope to others.

The Apostles faced the same trials, temptations and human frailties that we face. Yet, in the midst of trying to overcome their own trials and temptations and battling their own demons, they were feeding the poor, healing the sick and giving hope to others by spreading the good news.

People don’t care about how much we know until they know how much we care. Maybe we wouldn’t have truly learned to care apart from our suffering.

I hope you’re successful in keeping all of your New Year’s Resolutions, and 2015 is the best year you’ve had so far. But we cannot wait for all of our hopes to be fulfilled before we offer help and hope to others.

We overcome as we help others to overcome.


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178 thoughts on “Opportunities In Trials

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  1. Reblogged this on Karen Foster…Even in This and commented:
    Trials are the means of growth.

  2. I believe you are right. We would not learn to care apart from suffering. I say that from experience.
    And you would not write with the grace, depth and power that you do apart from your many years of suffering. God bless you.

  3. Very powerful words you have here. They have truly blessed me this morning. Thank you. 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on Is there anyone listening? and commented:
    I share these thoughts !

  5. “I am so blessed with your blog that I have forwarded it to others so they can be blessed also. Today’s forwarding was to Richard Williams, an 88 year old WWII veteran, who writes poetry. He responded with this. . .that he wrote for you:

    An Honest Observation

    In helping others overcome, mere words won’t do.
    Those needing help need an example, smiling through.
    They need to see someone whose plight is worse than theirs.
    Before they even contemplate somebody cares.
    That revelation must be strong enough to shock,
    To be so strong no human lassitude could block,
    So strong that there is no way of escaping it,
    To make them see the living proof of “Never quit!”
    For only then may words and phrases gain a hold;
    For only then will they address what they are told.
    It is so easy to give up—say “What’s the use!”
    The human psyche thrives in seeking an excuse.
    Though you have suffered, what you’re doing, and have done,
    You’d find that Paul himself would tell you: “You have won!”
    God works in ways impossible for us to see,
    But YOU are surely His example, Praises be!”

  6. In the South, when we come across a presentation like this, we say; “That will Preach”…… Excellent Post…. Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

  7. Reblogged this on Shootin' the Breeze and commented:
    Bill is an excellent writer with “unshakable hope.” He inspires many people with how deals with the challenges of A.L.S. My Uncle Luke also had A.L.S., so Bill’s blogs remind me of Uncle Luke, another brave man. Ironically, Luke was a major league baseball player, like Lou Gehrig, and the condition is often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

  8. “We overcome as we help others overcome.” I believe it! I am in charge of a group of 1 300 women and one of our mantras is The more you encourage the more you will be encouraged. I believe it!

  9. Amen to this Bill! What we go through is never just for ourselves. Who knows who may be watching to see how we handle various trials, or when God will use you to speak into the life of someone going through a similar circumstance. Through the good and the bad, our faith walk should be in a constant state of progression. God wants to use us, even in the storms!!

  10. I don’t believe that we have to suffer to know how to Love and comfort others Bill, that comes from The Holy Spirit as we choose to carry each others Burdens but we learn in our suffering as Christians to reach out to God Trusting Him to help us endure and that is what you have done Bill and so you share this with others and give heart felt thanks because like me you know, whatever we suffer we are not alone and God works it all for good.

    Isaiah 43:1-3 – Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”

    Jeremiah 29 :11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

    Lamentations 3: 33 For God doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

    I’m still disabled in my feet but I have been Miraculously healed much more than once and I have experienced Signs and Wonders too but I had no sign that God would heal me, He just did although two life threatening conditions were healed after I came to heart repentance and was anointed by an Elder in the Church, which is what the Scriptures say will happen.

    James 5:13-15 Is any sick among you? let him call for the Elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (KJV)

    We see in the Scripture that Paul’s thorn was because of his Pride which he tells us about in Romans 7 when he was battling with his Carnal flesh, thankfully he tells us also what to do about it in these Scriptures (Romans 8 :12-15- Romans 6 – Colossians 3:4-6 -Galatians 5:24 -26) (KJV)

    Christian Love in Christ Jesus – Anne

    • Thank you, Anne.
      Yes, I’m convinced that God still heals broken minds, spirits and bodies – we must never give up hope.
      Whatever Paul’s “thorn” was, he did say that God allowed it to remain to keep him from becoming proud.

      • It was because Paul had fleshy pride that it remained but once he had put His flesh to death and was Perfected in Love, he no longer had the thorn, we see this reality in other Scriptures, it was from Satan not God. Paul also talks about his Carnal flesh in Romans 7 and the Scriptures below tell us what to do about it.

        Put the flesh to death….

        Romans 8 :12-15 Therefore, brothers/ sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. or if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons/daughters of God.

        Colossians 3:4-6 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

        Galatians 24 -26 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

        2 Corinthians 7: 1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God

        Aim to be perfected in Love…..

        Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect

        Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

        Philippians 3:14-16 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, where to we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

        2Timithy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

        1John 4:16-19 And we have known and believed the Love that God hath to us. God is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our Love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in Love; but perfect Love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in Love. We Love Him, because He first Loved us.

        2Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in Peace; and the God of Love and Peace shall be with you.

        We do not continue to sin….

        1 John 3:9 No one who is Born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been Born of God.

        John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

        1 John 5:18-20 We know that no one who is Born of God sins; but He who was Born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

        1 John 3: 1-11 ( 6-7 ) Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man/woman deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.

        Romans 8 :12-15 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. or if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

        1 John 2:4-6 He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith hebideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.

        Christian Love in Christ Jesus – Anne.

      • Thank you, Anne. Great thoughts and verses.

  11. You speak with powerful and moving authority, my friend. Thank you! http://mitchteemley.com/2015/01/17/1235/

  12. Thank you for this great post, Bill. You’ve been a good example of this.

  13. Reblogged this on Thoughts along the way and commented:
    Thank You.

  14. Bill,
    Your words are truly inspirational! I love that you are shining your light, right now, and in the place God has you. What a wonderful reminder that Paul preached about freedom, from the “depths of what was likely a rat infested dungeon”. God has a special plan for each of us – His plan is for right now, despite what our circumstances might be. Thank you for your faithfulness in sharing how God is working through your life!
    Thanks also for visiting my blog. So much of what you are sharing is relevant to my story as well. I am healing from abuse I suffered as a child, but God is redeeming my brokenness for good. I have subscribed to your blog, and look to hearing more of what you have to share. I look forward to connecting again soon!

    • Thank you, Kamea, for reading, commenting and following my blog. I like your blog name, Incremental Healing, because sometimes, especially with things like childhood abuse, healing is incremental. That’s not something our “microwave society” wants to hear, but…

  15. Wonderful post!! Your faith and hope and willingness to serve, even in the midst of your ALS, is heart lifting and a great encouragement to others! In the first years after the death of my little boy, I wandered through tremendous “dungeons” of grief, blackness and suffering, but through that suffering is where I learned the greatest mercy and caring for others. Would I have learned this depth of caring without my dark night? Probably not. Thank you for your heart and your hope and your wonderful blog. God bless you!

  16. This is fantastic!
    I also really love that real description of Paul. Culture has so shaped the way we think of these men; the reality is so much different.
    Excellent blog-needed to hear this today.

    • Thank you, Michael. I completely agree with you culture has painted a picture of the Apostles that doesn’t line up with the New Testament – I really doubt that Peter and Paul had halos 🙂

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