Sermon Illustrations

"If Only I Could Sleep Again"

Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision had advanced leukemia, but he went to visit a colleague in Indonesia before he died. As they were walking through a small village, they came upon a young girl lying on a bamboo mat next to a river. She was dying of cancer and had only a short time to live. When Bob was told of her circumstances, he was very upset. He demanded to know why she wasn’t in a clinic and was told she was from the jungle and wished to spend her last days next to the river where it was cool and familiar.

As Bob gazed at her, he felt such compassion that he got down on his knees in the mud, took her hand, and began stroking it. Although she didn’t understand him, he prayed for her. Afterward she looked up and said something. "What did she say?" Bob asked his friend. His friend replied, "She said, ‘If only I could sleep again; if only I could sleep again.’" It seemed that her pain was too great to allow her the relief of rest.

Bob began to weep. Then he reached into his pocket and took out his own sleeping pills, the ones his doctor had given him because the pain from his leukemia didn’t allow him much sleep apart from them. He handed the bottle to his friend. "Make sure this young lady gets a good night’s sleep---as long as these pills last."

Bob was 10 days away from where he could get his prescription refilled. That meant 10 painful and restless nights. Even in the midst of his suffering, Bob Pierce had been infused with God’s supernatural sense of satisfaction that he had done the right thing.

There is no better exercise for strengthening the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.

Source: Lee Strobel, God’s Outrageous Claims, p. 95. From a sermon by Bruce Howell, "You Can Make a Difference!" 8/1/2008

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