“Opportunities in Trials” by Bill Sweeney

There is no doubt that abuse victims have suffered.  If we look around us though we will see that there are many others, also, suffering…with cancer, with cerebral palsy, with epilepsy, with infertility, with schizophrenia.  The list is nearly endless.

This post is by a man who has for 18 years suffered from ALS (Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also, known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”).  Bill Sweeney is paralyzed, using a computer to write with his eyes.  Yet he consistently writes about hope. 

You can find the original post at Bill’s website, Unshakable Hope, http://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/. I highly recommend the site.

“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.”

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Community, Religion, Violence Against Women

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