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Sermon illustrations

God’s Absence

God’s [Perceived] Absence

Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, if you turn to Him then with praise, you will be welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away.

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, Faber & Faber.

Jesus, Could you Hand me the Broom?

A little boy is afraid of the dark. One night his mother tells him to go out to the back porch and bring her the broom. The little boy turns to his mother and says, “Mama, I don’t want to go out there. It’s dark.” The mother smiles reassuringly at her son. “You don’t have to be afraid of the dark,” she explains. “Jesus is out there.

He’ll look after you and protect you.” The little boy looks at his mother real hard and asks, “Are you sure he’s out there?” “Yes, I ‘m sure. He is everywhere, and he is always ready to help you when you need him,” she says. The little boy thinks about that for a minute and then goes to the back door and cracks it a little. Peering out into the darkness, he calls, “Jesus? If you’re out there, would you please hand me the broom?”

Justin Sedgewick, Have You Heard the One About . . .More Than 500 Side-Splitting Jokes! Skyhorse Publishing 2017.

See What Happens

Do you ever feel as if God is far from you? Be assured, He is steadfastly near. Do not be disheartened because you don’t see Him in your circumstances. I saw an illustration of this during a photography excursion I took to the Matterhorn in Switzerland. When I got to the great mountain, I was greeted by a snowstorm that unforgivingly persisted for three days. The blanket of snow was so thick, I never even saw the foot of the mountain. On my last night there, I shared my disappointment with the Lord. The next day, I awoke at 5:20 a.m. and looked out my window. The storm had been swept away, and there was the Matterhorn in all her glory, with a halo of moonlight crowning her. It was as if God said, “See what happens when you wait for Me.”

Charles F. Stanley, God’s Purpose for Your Life: 365 Devotions, Thomas Nelson, 2020.

Suffering is Evidence of God’s Presence

Suffering is not evidence of God’s absence, but of God’s presence, and it is in our experience of being broken that God does his surest and most characteristic salvation work. There is a way to accept, embrace, and deal with suffering that results in a better life, not a worse one, and more of the experience of God, not less. God is working out his salvation in our lives the way he has always worked it out—at the place of brokenness, at the cross of Jesus, and at the very place where we take up our cross.

Eugene H. Peterson, adapted from Foreword of Alan E. Nelson, Embracing Brokenness: How God Refines Us Through Life’s Disappointments (NavPress, 2002)

See also Decision-Making, Habits