Sermon Illustrations

James Abram Garfield was born November 19, 1831, in a log cabin in the back woods of Ohio. His father died at the age of 2. Young James somehow earned enough money to go to college. He graduated from college in 1856, and he became a professor and president of Hiram College in Ohio, the college of his denomination, the Disciples of Christ, in which he was also a lay preacher.

Eventually he chose to enter politics, and in 1880, he was elected president of the United States. After only six months in office, on July 2 1881, however, he was shot in the back with a revolver by an attorney who had grown bitter by being overlooked for an important position. Garfield never lost consciousness. At the hospital, the doctor probed the wound with his little finger to seek the bullet. He couldn’t find it, so he tried a silver-tipped probe. Still he couldn’t locate the bullet.

They took Garfield back to Washington, DC, and eventually to the shores of New Jersey, to keep him comfortable in the summer heat. He was growing very weak, even though teams of doctors tried to find the bullet, probing the wound over and over.

In desperation they asked Alexander Graham Bell, who was working on the telephone, to see if he could locate the metal inside the president’s body. He came with an induction-balance electrical device, hoping to find the bullet with this invention of his, but he too failed. The president hung on through July and August, but on September 19, 1881, James Garfield, the last of the log-cabin presidents, finally died. But he didn’t die from the wound. He died from infection and internal bleeding. You see, it was the repeated probing, which the physicians thought would help him, that eventually killed him.

You need to understand: how you handle failure might turn out to be worse than the failure itself. How you deal with a loss may hurt worse than the hurt. What you do with a defeat in your spiritual life determines if the defeat is temporary or permanent.

( plus historical references)

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