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)

Becoming Humble

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1It’s been 20 years since I was diagnosed with ALS, and I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned over these long and difficult years.

The strange thing about being taught lessons from difficult circumstances is that you have no idea that you’re being taught a lesson at the time. This was the case with my learning about humility. Unlike learning lessons from books or teachers, experiences, especially really difficult experiences, teach us lessons that we never forget. These lessons literally become a part of us.

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – CS Lewis

I don’t remember giving it a lot of thought at the time, but I suppose that I considered myself to be a fairly humble guy before being diagnosed with ALS. I now know that I didn’t even understand what true humility was back then. I am still learning.

Like taking several different classes in school, trials teach us many lessons at the the same time. Some people call this “The school of hard knocks.” But the other lessons are much easier to learn if you first learn the lesson of humility. Humble people are teachable people.

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My first lesson in humility.

It’s funny to think about now, but I fought so hard to keep from having to use a wheelchair back when I first began stumbling and falling. I vividly remember it taking me like fifteen minutes to walk into church using a walker. I never looked behind me as I was creeping along, but I now picture myself leading a long line of very patient churchgoers walking at my same tortoise-like pace. I’m sure they were asking themselves, why doesn’t this guy just use a wheelchair? (Mary was probably asking herself the same question as she walked alongside me).

I’d like to claim that my refusal to use a wheelchair for so long was me fighting against the ravages of this horrible disease. That was mostly true, but it was partly old-fashioned pride. There was a part of me, the worst part of me, that simply didn’t want to be viewed as a crippled person. (Like I was fooling anyone). I know that sounds shallow, but it’s the truth.

If you ever want to test your level of humility, go shopping at the mall in a wheelchair.

I was reading the Bible every day, going to church and doing all the things “good Christians” do; I had been a follower of Christ for many years, yet I still wasn’t truly humble. I now know that being humble, just like being proud, is a choice. Choosing to be humble is a choice that even the healthiest and wealthiest can and should make. Difficult trials force us to choose one or the other. (If humility wasn’t a choice, God wouldn’t have told us to “humble ourselves” as He does throughout the Bible).

Every Christian has a choice between being humble or being humbled” – Charles Spurgeon

Trials chip away at our pride like a sculptor chiseling away at a rough block of limestone. The difference between a block of stone and a human being is that the block of stone doesn’t have a freewill. The silent choices we make, especially when going through a difficult time, play a big part in determining what the Sculptor will make us into.

Fighting against the process of being humbled is a miserable way to live, especially when you’re dying.

I’m not saying that we should give in to the trial, that’s the last thing we should do. I refuse to allow ALS to take me down without a fight. As of last week I’ve been battling this monster for 20 years and, even though this disease has knocked me down (literally and figuratively) more times than I can count, I still choose not to give up.

Regardless of what our trial might be, we cannot fight alone. We need the help of others and we especially need God’s assistance. Whether it’s for salvation or coping with life’s many difficulties, God’s assistance comes in the form of His grace (favor, goodwill, loving-kindness…).

The Bible tells us that God (only) gives His grace to the humble (James 4:6). It’s not that He doesn’t want to give grace to the proud, it’s just that the proud refuse His grace. Pride is by definition self-reliance, an illusion that keeps God and others at a comfortable distance.

Whether or not you’re going through a difficult time right now, humble yourself and your humility combined with God’s grace, will help you in good times and bad.

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135 thoughts on “Becoming Humble

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  1. Excellent! Thank you for this!!! 👍🏻

  2. A thought-provoking post, which makes me consider going shopping in a wheelchair in a mall. I don’t frequent malls, but I like your suggestion. So would Diane! 🙂 Thanks for your visit today. It got me over here to see what you’re writing about. Well worth the visit, and as always, well timed for me.
    Elouise

  3. “If you ever want to test your level of humility, go shopping at the mall in a wheelchair.” I love this. You don’t realize how hard it is to get around in a wheelchair until you have experienced it or had a love one experience it! My son was placed in a wheelchair for a couple of months. It was so hard carrying a food tray at the hospital and pushing him around! It’s also hard getting through doors. Bless your heart and thank you for sharing such an uplifting message! ❤️​

  4. Hi! I nominated you for the Versatile blogger award!
    You deserve it.
    Please check the link for the rules:
    https://stresslesswithjesus.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/the-versatile-blogger-award/

  5. Wonderful words as always. Thank you.

  6. Very inspiring. I guess I don’t have the right to complain about all the hardship I am going through right now. You are truly blessed. God’s grace is sufficient for you. God used you in that way. Keep on writing. Continue inspiring more people like me. God bless you more.

    • Thank you, Mayette. You’re right, God’s grace is sufficient for all of our needs.

      • You are very much welcome. Lately, I had been through a lot and I am blaming God. But just realized, no matter what, I should be thankful for what I have, and not feel bitter for what I don’t have.

      • I’m sorry you’re going through difficulties, Mayette. Please don’t blame God for your troubles, He may have allowed it, but I believe it’s always to bring about a greater good – here on earth or for eternity. Just remember, never allow yourself to think otherwise, God is love and God is good. If that’s the only thing you can keep at the forefront of your mind in life’s many trials, it will be enough to get you through.

      • Yes, I won’t anymore. I realized my fault thru you and thru others who had been through hardship but still standing and praising God. Still faithful and thanking God for what they have. I am thanking God for because of you.

      • Thanks, Mayette. It’s easy to thank and praise God in the times of wealth and health, but we need to do that especially when we might not “feel” like doing so.

  7. What a journey and what a God. Thanks for sharing. Our hope truly is unshakeable. I choose humility.

  8. Wonderfully well done. I just received your gracious comments about my last blog and opened up to read this and thought they were very similar in theme! You and I have the honor and privilege to learn from our sufferings and use those sufferings to glorify God. As always, thank you for continuing to support and encourage me with your kind words and your inspiring blog posts.

  9. I was just thinking about you. And then you liked my post. And then I found this. You inspire me. Happy new year! Carpe Diem.
    xo

  10. Praying that Jesus makes himself more real to you than ever before my friend. Thinking of you this Christmas season.
    Ron

  11. Just wanted to stop by and wish you a very Merry Christmas, Bill. Your inspiration has touched countless lives. God bless you.

  12. Jennifer Stepanski on said:

    Re-reading this today. It is always so good to hear from you! God is great! Yes, thank you so much for your efforts to get a message out to us and to use your life lessons to help us! Thank you for sharing your gifts. You inspire me! I love you. Dear Lord Jesus, please continue giving Bill your strength. Wrap your loving arms around him. Thank you Jesus for your healing power! We Praise you and thank you for Life, love, joy, peace. Help us to shine bright, as Bill does. Bless him for his faith. Help us to grow strong in you Lord. Thank you for your favor today dear Father God. Glory to God! Thank you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!
    Happy Thanksgiving. We Believe, We Believe in Miracles. So Thankful and grateful. Help us be humble! Humble and Kind!!!! Love to the family!!!!!!

  13. Thank you, Bill, for this powerful reflection on your journey toward humility. It brought up memories of Diane, and her struggle each time she had to relinquish yet another important sign of being in control. Given my age and health issues, this is a timely piece for me. No, I don’t have anything like ALS. But the struggle to give up pieces of my independent self are just as difficult. Thanks for leading the way not just in your life, but in your writing. There’s something healing about them–especially when they strike a raw nerve. 🙂
    Blessings of peace and hope in this Thanksgiving season.
    Elouise

    • Thank you, Elouise. After watching your own sister be humbled by this horrible disease, I know you can relate to this post. I’m sorry you had to watch that frustrating process.

      • Actually, it changed me from the inside out–in very good ways, despite the agony of watching her battle. I applaud every ALS patient able and willing to be public about ways the process affects them. It’s a distinctly personal disease–which, I think, adds to the outrage we rightly feel about it. I’m happy to have this message from you today and know that you’re here on this planet! 🙂
        Elouise

      • Thank you, Elouise. Maybe others watching my battle are being humbled as you were watching Diane.

      • Yes. There’s helplessness that comes on both sides. Even when I respond to a post knowing there’s nothing I can offer except my presence and prayers. Very humbling, indeed. It also reminds me to number my own days.
        Elouise

      • I suppose that is one definition of humility – realizing we are powerless and giving it to God.

      • Yes, I would agree. I think of you frequently, always with a prayer for peace and courage, without denying the pain of ALS, or how you feel about it.

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