Sermon Illustrations


Philip Yancey tells the story of a migrant farmhand in his book "Where is God When It Hurts":

Last year we went to a little church in New Jersey.... We had all our children there, the baby included. The Reverend Jackson was there, I can't forget his name, and he told us to be quiet, and he told us how glad we should be that we're in this country, because it's Christian, and not 'godless.' Then my husband went and lost his temper; something happened to his nerves, I do believe. He got up and started shouting, yes sir. He went up to the Reverend Mr. Jackson and told him to shut up and never speak again---not to us, the migrant people. He told him to go back to his church, wherever it is, and leave us alone and don't be standing up there looking like he was so nice to be doing us a favor.

Then he did the worst thing he could: he took the baby, Annie and he held her right before his face, the minister's, and he screamed and shouted and hollered at him, that minister, like I've never before seen anyone do. I don't remember what he said, the exact words, but he told him that here was our little Annie, and she's never been to the doctor, and the child is sick...and we've got no money, not for Annie or the other ones our ourselves.

Then he lifted Annie up, so she was higher than the reverend and he said why doesn't he go and pray for Annie and pray that the growers will be punished for what they're doing to us, all the migrant people.... And then my husband began shouting about God and His neglecting us while He took such good care of the other people all over.

The the reverend did answer---and that was his mistake, yes it was. He said we should be careful and not start blaming God and criticizing Him and complaining to Him and like that, because God wasn't supposed to be taking care of the way the growers behave and how we live, here on this earth. 'God worries about your future'; that's what he said, and I tell you, my husband nearly exploded. He shouted about 10 times to the reverend, 'Future, future, future.' Then he took Annie and near pushed her in the reverend's face and Annie, started crying, poor child, and he asked the reverend about Annie's 'future' and asked him what he'd do if he had to live like us, and if he had a 'future' like ours. Then he told the reverend he was like all the rest, making money off us, and he held our Annie as high as he could, right near the cross, and he told God He'd better come and see us for Himself, and not have the 'preachers'--he kept calling them the 'preachers'--speaking for Him."

Philip Yancey makes a pertinent comment -- that the "migrant family sums up the dilemma of pain and suffering as well as it can be expressed.... But...on one point the angry farmhand was dead wrong. Holding the child in front of the reverend's face, up near the cross, he demanded that God come down and see for Himself what this world is like...

"...Wait. God did come..."

God has come -- God is here--and He is near.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Related Sermons