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)

About Bill

Updated 3/15

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).

Our family the Christmas before I was diagnosed

Our family the Christmas before I was diagnosed

The diagnosis that I had 2 to 5 years to live 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 that 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.

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)

 

Our family 9/14, almost 18 years after being diagnosed with ALS

Our family 9/14, almost 18 years after being diagnosed with ALS

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657 thoughts on “About Bill

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  1. Hello Bill! So nice to see another survivor living with this terrible disease ALS. Reading your posts are uplifting and inspirational for not only us living with the disease but also those who are experiencing any tribulation. Stay strong my friend! And God bless you and those who travel this journey with you!
    Lisa Marie Da Ponte

  2. Thank you for visiting my site and liking it, Bill. Doing so led me to your blog. You have a beautiful family, and one amazing outlook on life. Thank you for proving those doctors wrong, finding purpose within your diagnosis, and sharing that with the world. We all have so very much to learn from you. Blessings to you and your heroic wife 🙂

  3. Bill, I believe what you have is the same as what my family referred to as Huntington’s disease. I was fortunate to be in a branch whose grandfather did not have the disease. I understand that it will not show up unless one’s parents had it. Of my great grandmother’s family six out of twelve children carried and passed on the disease to half of their children. If it is the same, I can see that the Lord has been gracious to allow you this added time of a productive life. Most of my family began showing the symptoms in late twenties or near that and were disabled shortly after; I think all passed in their thirties or forties. I am not meaning to be pessimistic. I’m joining you in thankfulness that you are able to write this blog and be such an inspiration to others; especially, those who think they have to give up just because a prognosis is bad. Keep going, Bill and Mary. I sure you bless others. Unshakable Hope, Indeed!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Oneta.
      ALS is similar to Huntington’s disease (from what I understand) in the sense that it paralyzes the body, but it also affects the mind – dreadful disease! If a person wanted to make an enemy suffer, it would be hard to think of something worse than Huntington’s disease.
      So happy you are not a part of that family branch.

      • I believe it generally showed mental problems before physical. I know a lot of my aunts and uncles were placed in mental institution in Pueblo, Colo. That is not true of my cousins (my generation). Thankfully they had learned much about the disease by that time. I wasn’t close enough to know just how they medicated them. Probable just kept them “dumbed down.” I have checked your follow. It will be a reminder to pray for one thing, as well as to keep up with the progress of your family in this situation. Be strong in Jesus. Thanks for your follow.

      • I am glad that the form of ALS I have is not genetic.
        Thank you for following my blog, Oneta.

  4. Hi Bill. I noticed you stopped by my blog. I’m just discovering yours and it is awesome. I subscribed – you have a gift. God bless you and your family.

  5. Kathryn Graber on said:

    Hello Bill: I have worked with your brother Mark for a long time and have heard him talk of you many times. Mark shared your appearance on the Chris Fabry show with me and my heart was touched by you, your wife Mary, your story and your faith. I too am a devout follower of Christ and know that hearing your story, and now reading your blog, will help grow in my walk with Jesus. Thank you & God bless.

  6. Hi Bill. My name is Keira Smith and I enjoyed listening to you and your wife on Moody radio today. There are times in my life when I think everything is going bad…but that only last for a couple of minutes. Then I realize that God is carrying me through whatever it is I may be going through at the time (just like in Footprints 👣; I love that short story).
    I enjoyed how positive you have remained after everything you have gone through. I admire the amount of work you put into delivering God’s message and how much time it takes you to do something most of us take for granted doing with ease. I really look forward to hearing and reading your blogs in the future. Thank you for being amazing!!!

    • Thank you for visiting the blog and posting your encouraging comments, Keira. Also, thank you for listening to the Chris Fabry show yesterday. As I’m sure you noticed, Mary was nervous, but like me she wanted to give others hope in Christ. He is carrying you, Keira.

  7. Anonymous on said:

    Thank you for sharing your story on the radio today. My dad has early onset Alzheimer’s and much of what you shared struck a chord. Thank you for being brave enough to share the struggle and God’s faithfulness. It does change everything, but it is so encouraging to share with others going through trials and knowing God is bigger than it all.

  8. Maxine lindle on said:

    Thanks for being on the radio today.

  9. Hi Bill, thanks for stopping by my site, that was an encouraging surprise. Thank you for your ministry of encouragement on your site. I read only a few and really appreciate your faith in Christ who truly holds our future.
    “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
    I’m going to follow your site and hope to see more from you soon.

  10. I’m hanging in there. I had a very special moment in which I fell in Love with my wife all over again. (Not that I ever lost it). But I felt that nervous feeling, and just fell closer to her. With our busy schedules I’m so blessed I’ve been able to have that feeling all over again. I often read your blogs, just as a reminder of God and his Mercy and Grace.

    I love you man. And tell your bride I said hello.
    Jarvon

    • That’s such a great testimony, Jarvon. With you and your wife both being busy doctors, Mary and I were wondering how you even find time for one another. I know you make time with her and your kids a priority. You’re a good man.

  11. Jarvon Godley on said:

    How are you Bill? This is Jarvon your former physical therapist.

  12. Pingback: “Becoming Humble” 11/14/2016 Written by my friend Bill Sweeney | God's group

  13. Bill, Thank you, again, for your ministry through this blog site, and for your inspiring example of courage and faith through your everyday life. Bless you!

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