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Written by my friend Bill Sweeney, stricken with ALS 21 years ago. He now writes by use of an eye-tracking computer, with only his eye movements. Bill’s “Unshakable Hope” should give us all a reason to count our blessings !! (bruce)
Read all about Bill @ https://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/about/
Do “All Things” Really Work For Good?
Posted by Bill Sweeney
Before I begin this post, I feel like I owe the readers of my last post an apology.
When I started this Unshakable Hope blog over six years ago, I set some guidelines for myself. One of these guidelines was replying to every comment made. I figure, if people took the time to read and comment on a post, I at least owed them a “Thank You.” Besides, I enjoy interacting with my readers; my friends.
I didn’t reply to even one comment. Mary and I read every comment on our own, and then she read them out loud to me. Thank you so much for your encouraging comments and for your prayers – both of these help us to persevere.
As I mentioned in the perseverance post on my birthday, Friday, October 5th, I planned on posting it on September 23rd, but I woke up that Monday morning with what I’d discover was pneumonia. I was transferred to hospice, and I think most people, including Mary, felt that it might be my last few days in this lame body. But, I recovered and actually felt pretty good the weekend of my birthday. The hospice nurse told me that the pneumonia was gone.
However, the following week, I came down with another unrelated infection, which meant ten more days of powerful antibiotics. I think it’s because I am fed a liquid diet through a tube in my stomach, but it takes everything I have to keep the antibiotics down after Mary pours them in. Thankfully, I did keep them down and, thank God, I recovered from that nasty infection too.
Mary and I were happy to wave goodbye to October. I am typing this on November 1st, a brand new month. As if on cue, the first real cold front of fall swept through Texas last night and put an end to the hot, humid weather of October and replaced it with beautiful crisp sunny weather. If I was still able to golf…
The day of this posting is November 2nd. Mary and I were married on November 2nd, 1985; today is our 33rd wedding anniversary. I think she’s a keeper.
I know, what was I thinking wearing a white tux? I think a white tuxedo was a Texas thing in the 1980s. Regardless, Mary wanted me to wear a white tux, and people in love agree to things they otherwise wouldn’t even consider. I was raised in the Chicago suburbs, not far from where the movie, “Home Alone” was filmed. A quote from that movie came to my mind when Mary emailed me this picture to use in my post and I cringed when I saw the white tux; (in Chicagoland) “You can get beat up for wearing something like I that.”
I was diagnosed with ALS within days of our 11th wedding anniversary. As I said, this is our 33rd anniversary. So, I’ve had ALS for two-thirds of our married life. Would Mary and I have had those smiles on our faces if we knew what our futures held? Obviously, that’s the reason God doesn’t reveal our futures to us. Like manna only lasting twenty-four hours when the Jews were trusting God to sustain them in the wilderness, the Christian life is a “one day at a time” life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
YES! This verse is true – for every follower of Christ. Unless you only think of prosperity in the financial context. If this and other passages about prosperity just referred to finances, our brothers and sisters in the third world and even the apostles missed God. Through our darkest times, including when ALS ended my career, and I had to wait seven months for my first disability check. With mounting medical and credit card bills, we were afraid to answer the phone out of fear that it was another collection agency with their heartless threats. It was then that we learned to rely entirely on God. He worked miracles on our behalf. This chapter of our lives will be a chapter in the book I am writing.
We learned about true prosperity the hard way. Having God’s Spirit dwelling inside of us, and the joy, peace, hope, and contentment that comes through the Spirit of Christ. Having a God, a family, and friends who love us unconditionally; This is true prosperity.
Way back then, Mary had a job working from home for a medical transcription business. It didn’t pay a lot, but it was enough for us to keep our two beautiful daughters, then four and seven, in a Christian school and allowed Mary to be at home with the girls. I was the primary breadwinner, so it was difficult when I was forced to resign from my job. But, through hard work and her intelligence, Mary grew in her career and has worked for the same business for the last twenty-nine year’s.
I’m typing this line at 9:12 at night, I am trying to finish so I can post it in the morning. Well, about five hours ago, when I was in the midst of typing this post, Mary came in and told me that she was Laid-off from the company she’s been employed with for almost three decades. Her being Laid-off wasn’t unexpected, the business was bought out three years ago and has undergone many changes. We were thankful that they kept her after the buyout, but we suspected this day was coming.
Are we wringing our hands and pacing the floor after hearing this news this afternoon? No way! Besides the fact that I can’t wring my hands or pace the floor, even though Mary is, or was the primary breadwinner, we’re not the least bit worried. Why? Because, as I said, we have learned to rely on God. He is our source, not a business and not a disability check.
Since having pneumonia in September and battling the horrible infection in October, I have been needing Mary much more than I did before these two latest trials. As I’ve mentioned before, Mary’s eighty-six-year-old mother has lived with us since Mary’s stepdad passed away over five years ago. She’s always been amazingly independent, and she’s been such a big help around the house, doing all laundry and helping clean the house. She’s been such a blessing to us.
Well, last month, she passed out and took a bad fall hitting her head and injuring her lower back. The ambulance rushed her to the hospital, but after two days of testing, the doctors could not find the reason she fainted. Even though she was I was barely able to walk, the hospital sent her home. In addition to being my full-time caregiver, Mary is now her mom’s full-time caregiver. Working a stressful job and taking care of her mom and me, and also doing the laundry and cleaning that her mom used to do, was taking a heavy toll on Mary. Something had to give – God decided it was Mary’s job.
Back in June, Mary and I were looking for ways to cut expenses so she could work another less stressful and maybe even a part-time job from home. We were talking about selling our house and finding a less expensive place to live. The problem with moving is that we have a perfect set up in this home; we have a large bedroom and bathroom with a roll-in shower for me. And, we have a guest room with its own bathroom. It’s been a perfect set up for Mary’s mom and Mary and me.
I felt that God didn’t want us even to discuss making a change for the rest of this year. It’s been tough on Mary because she thinks out loud. She’ll say I something like “there’s a new neighborhood being built nearby…” I give her a dirty look, and she stops in mid-sentence, remembering our agreement.
Back in June, God gave me a well-known verse for us to cling tightly to through the rest of this year. The verse is Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Does this really mean “all things,” even pneumonia and losing your job? YES!
Somehow, if we give it to Him, God will take all of our sin, shame, disobedience, and the many difficult trials we go through. He then mixes in a big bowl, stirs in a generous amount of grace, mercy and the forgiveness that Christ offers us; then He paints for us a beautiful mosaic titled, “All Things.”
God is good!
God is faithful!