Sermon Illustrations

Perhaps some of you know the story of Isobel Kuhn. She was a popular author and missionary to China, was married to John, a man just as strong willed and stubborn as she was. The two had many conflicts. John, for example, had a cook in China to whom he was devoted but whom Isobel couldn’t stand. Tensions grew, and Isobel sulked and stewed and finally exploded. She and John had a blazing argument.

Stuffing her hat on her head, Isobel stalked from the house, through town, and onto the plain boiling with rage. She said to herself, “I am not going to live with a man who gives a lazy servant preference over his wife.” She walked for hours, enraged, not caring where she went. She finally returned home, but the situation remained tense although John told Isobel she could dismiss the servant. When the local church leaders visiting wanting to know why the cook had been fired, John wouldn’t back Isobel. And he didn’t hire anyone else, sending all the domestic duties on her.

Other issues soon arose. For a long time the marriage was painful and stressed. But John and Isobel were committed to the Master. They were committed to personal spiritual maturity and to working and maintaining the relationship, however difficult it seemed. Furthermore, Isobel admitted that she had nowhere to go. She often walked out on John, but in that remote region on the Chinese-Thai border, there was nowhere for her to go. The two finally built a satisfying, fulfilling marriage.

Near the end of her life, Isobel wrote these words: I feel many modern marriages are wrecked on just sharp shoals as this. A human weakness is pointed out. The correction is resented. Argument grows bitter. Young people are not ready to forgive, not willing to endure. Divorce is too quickly seized upon as the way out. [But] to pray God to awaken the other person, to be patient until he does so—this is God’s way out. And it molds the two opposite natures into one invincible whole.