Both men married a woman named Jane. Stephen Hawking married Jane Wilde whom he met while a graduate student at Cambridge and they married in 1965. The movie depicts the romance they shared: Jane’s fierce commitment to Stephen to help him through his medical trials (Though not depicted in the movie, Jane’s professing Christian testimony strengthened her for these things even as it became more of a source of conflict between the two.)….Steven Miller married his Jane forty-seven years ago. From the mission field to all the pastorates to teaching at the seminary to his condition today, Jane has never left his side. And Steve’s love for his wife has only deepened.
Two men with bright minds, one known as Stephen and another as Steven, have ALS.
The Stephen with ALS is none other than Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist and Director of the Centre of Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge.
The Steven with ALS is Steve Miller, a pastor and missionary who served in both the Orthodox Presbyterian and Reformed Presbyterian Churches.
A brief study of their lives is one of remarkable similarities and contrasts.
Stephen Hawking has one of the rare cases of ALS. He was diagnosed early in his life with this disease, at the age of 21 in 1963. The doctors at the time only gave him two years to live. Yet he has lived with it for over five decades and, incredibly, is still alive at the age of 75. Though severely crippled for much of that time, spending it in his signature wheelchair, he has been amazingly productive in lecturing and writing books. Today he can only communicate and write by twitching a cheek muscle that controls a computer specially wired to capture his movements. Hawking had a movie, The Theory of Everything, made about his remarkable life.
Steve Miller enjoyed an active life until he was diagnosed with ALS just a few years ago. He served as a missionary for a time in the African nation of Eritrea, was pastor of several congregations in Pennsylvania, and taught on missions as an adjunct professor at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh for seventeen years. He lived on a farm and enjoyed raising animals and chopping wood. Yet his ALS has moved quickly, and it caused him to retire from pastoral ministry. Now, like Stephen, he has lost much of the use of his arms and legs.
Both men married a woman named Jane. Stephen Hawking married Jane Wilde whom he met while a graduate student at Cambridge and they married in 1965. The movie depicts the romance they shared: Jane’s fierce commitment to Stephen to help him through his medical trials (Though not depicted in the movie, Jane’s professing Christian testimony strengthened her for these things even as it became more of a source of conflict between the two.); the happy years of having three children together; and seeing Stephen’s academic career and popularity skyrocket. Yet it also reveals that Stephen’s growing renown, coupled with his increasing limitations from his disease, put too much strain on their relationship. Stephen began an affair with a nurse and divorced Jane in 1995. His second marriage failed and he again divorced. In these latter years, Stephen and Jane (who has remarried) maintain a pleasant friendship together.
Steven Miller married his Jane forty-seven years ago. From the mission field to all the pastorates to teaching at the seminary to his condition today, Jane has never left his side. And Steve’s love for his wife has only deepened. They also have three children, as well as many grandchildren, and live now with their oldest son and his family. Just as Steve and Jane took care of his aging parents in this home many years ago, so now Steve is being cared for by his family and especially Jane. He and others often remark of her sacrificial love and care for her husband during these difficult days.
When his most widely read book, A Brief History of Time, came out in 1988, Hawking’s popularity soared as the book sold more than ten million copies over the next two decades. Written with a minimum amount of technical jargon yet still explaining concepts such as black holes, quarks, and singularities, Hawking reveals to his readers his understanding of both the universe’s origin and end. He explains his version of the Big Bang Theory, and postulates that trying to speak of what happened before the beginning of the universe is a meaningless question, much like trying to move further south from the South Pole. He leaves room for there being other universes beyond our own. Hawking has also written a great number of other books and articles, though not quite as numerous as the stars he loves to gaze upon. His views of the universe had him recently issuing a warning that humanity will need to leave Earth in the next century in order to survive its inevitable downfall.
Steve Miller was too busy much of his life to write a great deal, pouring himself out for the souls of people in the hard work of shepherding and caring for others. Yet in these recent days, as health allows, he has been taking his notes from all those years of instructing students on missions and pounding out a book on this subject. Steve believes that God made this universe and there is one planet in all of the universe’s vastness upon which God has set his full attention. His book focuses on how God sent his Son to redeem the peoples from all the nations of the earth, and how Christ as Lord now reigns over these nations to bring this to fruition. Because Christ reigns over the earth, rather than fearing for Earth’s destiny Steve trusts that Christ will one day restore it to an eternal glory which can never be destroyed.