Sermon Illustrations


Every year Americans spend over $50 billion trying to produce an advantage for themselves by winning the lottery. But only a small fraction of those who participate beat the astronomical odds and win the big jackpots. And even those who win find that any joy that they might get is only vapor.

In his March 2007 appearance on Good Morning America, psychologist Steve Danish, a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, who has studied the impact of instant wealth on lottery winners, remarked:

The dream you have about winning may be better than the actuality of winning," he said. "There have been families that have just -- just been torn apart by this process.

He went on to cite these examples:

* Kenneth and Connie Parker were winners of a $25 million jackpot. Their 16-year marriage disintegrated just months after they became rich beyond their wildest dreams.

* Jeffrey Dampier, a $20 million winner, was kidnapped and murdered by his own sister-in-law.

* In 2002, Jack Whittaker won the largest individual payout in U.S. lottery history. "I can take the money," Whittaker said at the time. "I can take this much money and do a lot of good with this much money right now." But it didn’t work out like that. Whittaker’s life was consumed by hardship, including the death of his beloved granddaughter Brandi, who was a victim of a drug overdose, and the breakup of his marriage. "If I knew what was going to transpire, honestly, I would have torn the ticket up," said Jewell Whittaker, Jack Whittaker’s ex-wife.

(From a sermon by Pat Damiani, "I Can’t Get No Satisfaction" 1/25/2009)

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