Sermon Illustrations

John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted takes a chapter and deals with the unexpected suffering in this life that we all come up against. He tells this story:

“A couple come in for counseling. They desperately want to have a baby. They have waited and prayed for twelve anxious, doubting years. They see other people with baby carriages and bassinets and they wonder why they are denied. They trudge on year after year.

Then one day, after they have given up on technology, it happens: the liquid in the test tube changes color, and their prayers are answered, and then they have a perfect, healthy baby boy. And they believe.

When he is three years old, this answered prayer is playing with an orange ball outside. It lands on a crack in the sidewalk and bounces crazily to the left. It didn’t have to happen that way—a little more breeze, a little nudge from God, and the ball would miss the crack. It could have bounced to the right, but it doesn’t. God doesn’t nudge it, and it goes to the left. And that means into the street, and the boy goes in after it, and never sees the car.

And now they are alone again, his mother and father. Their world has landed on a crack and has bounced away with an orange ball. And now their answered prayer hurts more than their unanswered one. The laughter has died.”