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)


I was thinking about Good Friday when I woke up early yesterday morning. Then I thought about people using the phrase “Thank God It’s Friday” to celebrate the end of a work week and the start of the weekend.

Even though I haven’t worked in over 19 years, I remember that feeling of being so glad a work week was over as I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a Friday evening or landing at the airport after being gone all week on a business trip.

Then I thought about the darkest Friday of my life.

After three days of grueling tests, which included cutting muscle samples out of my thigh without any anesthetic and a spinal tap that left me with a debilitating headache for three days, the neurologist, flanked by a group of interns, told to Mary and I that I had ALS. He went on to say that I would continually get weaker, be confined to a wheelchair, lose my ability to speak, and that I would die in three to five years.

That was not a Friday I was thanking God for.

Do you think when the disciples were staring up at Jesus dying on the cross they called that day “Good Friday?”

Yeah, I don’t think so either.

I’m sure there was a lot of confusion and crying on that dark day. Maybe they were like Mary and I on the long drive home from the medical center that Friday evening; not even looking at one another for fear of dissolving into tears.

Like Mary and I, I’m sure they were thinking, “This isn’t the way it was supposed to be.”

To add insult to injury, Jesus and the disciples were surrounded by people that were mocking and celebrating His crucifixion.

For the disciples, this day was anything but TGIF.

Jesus knew differently.

…for the joy set before Him (Jesus) endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2)

It was “for the joy set before Him” that Jesus was able to endure the insults, the flogging, the beatings, and being nailed to the cross.

It wasn’t until Sunday morning that the disciples understood that God’s plan was so much bigger and better than they could have imagined:

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who (like Jesus) for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

We can endure the cross we have to bear, no matter how heavy it might be, if we “fix our eyes on Jesus” and focus on “the joy set before us” – eternal life with the One who suffered and died for us.

This does not mean that we have to abandon our hopes and dreams for this life – far from it. God wants to bless us in this life too.

But, making a commitment to follow Christ is the only Unshakable Hope that God offers for this life and the next.

Today is a great day to make this commitment or to renew your commitment.


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123 thoughts on “TGIF

  1. How did I miss this one?! I needed it today! Thank you for being an ever-willing vessel. YOU are the carrier of the WORD and sometimes my best sermon of the week! Sometimes my only church in a while.

  2. I am so thankful you know Jesus!He is so good!

  3. Amen!! Such a wonderful and well written post!

  4. Sending you so many blessings. ❤ Debbie

  5. “It wasn’t until Sunday morning that the disciples understood that God’s plan was so much bigger and better than they could have imagined”… words, so true. But we don’t always think that when trials and sufferings come our way. He is the God of yesterday, today and forever, there is more to our stories than we know. Thank you for your timely Easter message. Blessings and hugs to you.

  6. Amen! That next Saturday was a pretty bleak day too I think. Sometimes that is exactly how life feels to us when we look at shattered dreams and wonder how/if we will ever get through. I can’t imagine what that has been for you, though I know we all have those desparate situations at some point in our lives. You are absolutely right and a great example of how fixing our eyes on Jesus is the only way we get through it. So glad to read your post. Thank you for the great reminder!

    • Thank you, Laura. It’s funny you mentioned the following Saturday, especially using the word “bleak.” It stormed the following Saturday, but we have a miraculous story about a rainbow that followed the storm – God’s promises are true, Laura. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about the rainbow.

  7. Bill, what a blessing your blog is to read. Your life walk with Jesus and ALS remind me of yesterday’s “Streams in the Desert” devotional post. ALS is the blow that broke your body and revealed diamonds that glorify God. Your posts are glittering jewels in the blogosphere, dear brother. You shine hope, you shine Jesus.
    Blessings to you & Mary ~ Wendy

    • Thank you very much, Wendy. You always write such encouraging comments.
      Thank you also for the re-tweet. I’m not a big twitterer, I signed in this morning for the first time in months, but I’m going to figure it all out and be a regular. (I might be asking you some twitter questions :-))

      • Your Unshakable Hope posts never fail to bless all of us, Bill. I’m not a Twitter pro, but I’d be happy to share what I know (For fun, I decided to leave the accidental rhyme in.) You or Mary are welcome to e-mail me at: purselanestudio@gmail(dot)com 🙂

      • Thank you, Wendy. If I have any questions, I’ll email you and ask what to do 🙂

  8. Paula on said:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Something good to ponder. Bless you!

  9. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post, Bill. Thank you for showing us that, just as our Lord endured the unendurable for the joy that was set before Him, He gave you the courage to do the same when you were given a bitter cup of pain and suffering to drink, just as He had to on that terrible dark Friday when He bore all our sin and shame on His cross of suffering.
    I thank our wonderful Heavenly Father for you and for all of the beautiful insights He gives you to share with us through your blog. Your messages always brighten my day!
    May God bless and renew your strength, and encourage you with His measureless love for you, in Jesus name, amen. ~Suzanne

  10. As usual, you have inspired me and bolstered my faith. And I’ve never really thought about how “Good Friday” was not really a Good Friday. Thanks for sharing your heart and being so vulnerable so that all of your readers (especially me) can be encouraged. Take care and I hope you are well.

    • Thank you, Terri. As I was reading your encouraging comments, I was thinking they apply more to you than they do me. I have seen a steady progression of faith through your posts. It’s obvious that you have grown so much closer to Christ since your horrible accident.

  11. The weight of the cross you’ve borne all these years gives you great credibility, Bill. But you share the greatest message of hope there is for a wounded world. And your focus is always Christ. Words fail me. Thank you.

  12. Amen, Bill. Happy Easter…and a happy eternity!

  13. Every post you write inspires me, Bill, because you ARE running with endurance the race set before you, your eyes fixed on Jesus. Thank you for shining as brightly as Sirius–one of the brightest stars in the universe (Philippians 2:14-16)! (And please forgive the mixed metaphors.)

  14. Wonderful post my friend. I have long struggled with the “this isn’t how it’s supposed to be”issue. I guess time and (hopefully) a bit of wisdom has taught me that in this life, you get what you get,and there is not always any rhyme or reason to it.

    Surely,it is worth it all to know Christ our Redeemer, for we understand that one day this flesh will give way to bodies that will never again know pain. God’s plan for us is perfect,and may He grant all of us the grace and wisdom to continue to live for Him as you have,in spite of such adversity.

    Praying the Lord will touch you and yours this Easter.

    • Thank you, Ron. Yes, I’ve struggled with that issue too. I think every follower of Christ going through a trial fights to make sense of the “why me” and even “why anybody.” I wish I had all the answers, but today His grace is sufficient, and I think it will be for tomorrow too. One day at a time, Ron.
      Happy Easter!

  15. So grateful for you, for Mary, for Grace and Mercy in the gift of Resurrection Day! So delighted to hear from you and be humbly inspired by your testimony and witness of Jesus. You are a blessing ! Great love, Wynema

  16. Pingback: “TGIF” 4/15/2017 Written by my friend Bill Sweeney, stricken with ALS 20 years ago | God's group

  17. You added a total new dimension to TGIF. The fact that Jesus did not resist the cross, for us, gives me more incentive to take up my cross for Him. ALS was not in my mind when I sang, Take my Life and Let it be, consecrated Lord, for Thee. Today, I mean it.

  18. Thanks Bill. Such a wonderful hope.

  19. Amen, amen, amen!! For the second year in a row I’ve been a part of a church that does a live crucifixion portrayal. It’s hard to describe how powerful it is. And heartbreaking. And unbelievable. This is not a feel good, good, but it’s a Jesus loves us in the most indescribable and amazing and dynamic way, and that always deserves a “Hallelujah!”

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Thank you Bill. Easter has had a much greater meaning for me since the Lord opened up Psalm 18 to me. I was wondering if I was really on the right track and then a friend sent me this link to an article by Dr. Harry A. Ironside: https://www.moodymedia.org/articles/power-his-resurrection/

    • Thank you, Bryan. I agree with you about Psalm 18, a powerful Messianic Psalm. It’s incredible that it, and the passage below from Psalm 22, were written a thousand years before Christ. Happy Easter!
      “I am poured out like water,And all my bones are out of joint;My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd,And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones.They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them,And for my clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm 22:14-18)

  21. Thanks, Bill, for reminding me that some of life’s greatest joys come as a result of the worst pain. Good can often only be recognized looking back. Seeing how God has consistently shown up. I appreciate your words.

  22. Great post and wonderful analogy to help us get a glimpse of how the disciples must have felt. Happy Easter!

  23. Amen! Jesus is our greatest gift. He is also the great healer.. Science has made breakthroughs in ALS.. now they will try Copper-ATSM.. Gods creation, even if they don’t credit Him 🙂

  24. Mary adams on said:

    Wonderful words, you and Mary have been on my mind lately.

  25. Wow, you continue to amaze me with your posts! Thank you for your insight, you are so strong and speak the truth! Happy Easter!

  26. Hi Bill, wonderful post. As a Klingon once said “Today is a good day to die” and added by me a copy cat thing,,,, and become a living sacrifice to our Lord’s good and perfect will… Guess your post fired me up a bit. Thank you Bill for the good stir, I needed the fellowship!

  27. May our Great Redeemer resurrect you in hope. How you bless me.

  28. Allan Halton on said:

    Thanks Bill. It’s only by the Cross that He carried for you and me that we are able to carry our own. And yes, as you say, today is a good day to renew our commitment to carry it to the end, heavy though it be. “Behold, we count them happy who endure!”

  29. Thank you for that beautiful reflection and for reminding me that God’s plan is always perfect. God bless you!

    • Thank you. We are so far from perfect, but, you’re right, God’s plan is perfect – if we commit to following Christ, His righteousness makes up for our imperfections.
      Happy Easter!

  30. I am so glad to read this today Bill. You continue to inspire people and direct them to the Lord with every word you write. Happy Easter…He is risen!

  31. Kathryn Graber on said:

    HE is all we need. Thank you for the heartfelt reminder in your post – inspiring as always. May you have a blessed Easter. He is Risen Indeed. Hallelujah.

  32. Beautiful. I love the perspective you have because of your own trials. Trials sure makes it easier to relate to Jesus and his disciples.

  33. That sounded exactly like what my son went tnrough,he found out last year that he to has ALS . So far his speech is the most affected. I didn’t know ALS even still existed. It was so hard as a mother to accept the diagnosis , but he is doing e everything possible to take care of what he needs to do. How are you doing ? Thank you for this ,and I will pray for you also.

    • Thank you for your comments, Beverly. I’m so sorry about your son receiving this dreadful diagnosis. I was hoping they had since found some shortcuts in the diagnosis process. How old is your son, Beverly?
      Thank you for asking how I’m doing. I’m doing surprisingly well for a guy that’s had ALS since 1996.
      If your son wants to “talk” have him email me at –

  34. Easter blessings to you and to Mary! I eagerly anticipate all things becoming new, and meeting you face to face. 🙂

    • Amen, Elouise. I’m looking forward to that day also.
      “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13)
      Happy Easter!

  35. Yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered
    …and perhaps a glimpse at Hebrews 5.
    Thanks Bill…He is risen…Doug

  36. Always thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you for using your talents to point the way to TRUE AND UNSHAKABLE HOPE in CHRIST JESUS!
    Happy Easter to you and yours!

  37. I really appreciate the fresh and unique tie-in to Good Friday Bill. Encouraging for me personally and a perfect directive for my outlook on the day, and Easter weekend. Thank you:)

  38. Well said. Thank you for a beautiful and relate-able post.

  39. Tom & Mary Laskoskie on said:

    God give you strength, this message sent to us by your daughter Lauren, it was very encouraging after reading the suffering of Christ.

  40. I used to wonder in my earlier days of faith, why they called ‘Good Friday’ and then of course found the reason…. ‘we would have had no other way to have forgiveness….

    Have a wonderful Easter… God has truly given you a gift to others and to honor Him ! Diane

  41. Anonymous on said:

    Great post. Hope you have a wonderful Easter. We’ll be thinking of you all.

  42. Great post Bill . I reposted it on my Facebook page. It is good to hear from you. Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday. I hope you can spend it with your family.

  43. paula corey on said:

    Bill – Missing you and wishing you and the family a very Happy Easter. See you soon! Love you

  44. The bittersweet of our darkest hours bringing grace. Thank you, as always, for giving your life for the rest of us very much like Jesus did.

  45. ncrowson on said:

    Very good analogy. Something I had never thought about. God Bless you and your family this beautiful Easter season. He is Risen!!!

  46. Your words are so inspiring Bill! Wishing you a Happy Easter!

  47. Wonderfully stated. Thanks for the uplift.

  48. Dear Bill,
    Thank you for this beautiful and thought provoking post and for being a faithful example to me and my family of Hebrews 12:1-2. Remember when Jesus said, “It is finished”? I was just thinking TGIF could be a new Easter greeting
    “Thank God It’s Finished!”
    Please tell Mary I said “Happy Easter” … and “TGIF” 🙂

  49. I love this post! Great job. So nice to hear from you again. I always look forward to reading your wisdom.

  50. jacquelinegwallace on said:

    Exactly so. It is not what is around us now but what lies ahead that pulls us though the now. Even so, we are surrounded and engulfed in the grace and mercy and lovingkindness of God, in the midst of what is around us now. Thanks for these powerful words.

  51. Amen! May God blessing & healing continually flow throughout you & your life.

  52. Your faith and unshakeable hope really encourages me! The Lord is good to you! God bless you and your family!

  53. Beautiful post Bill, thank you.

  54. Debbie Johnson on said:

    Beautifully written, Bill! Thank you for this.

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