Illustration on Trials: Path to top is bumpy!
A small girl had been promised the privilege of climbing to a nearby hilltop where her brother enjoyed playing. But when she came within sight of the steep, rough path, she drew back in dismay. “Why, there isn’t a smooth spot anywhere. It’s all bumpy and stony!” she exclaimed.
“Yes,” said her more experienced older brother, “but how else would we ever climb to the top if it wasn’t? The stones and bumps are what we step on to get there.”
Illustration on Trials: Don’t give up
After William Carey was well established in his pioneer missionary work in India, his supporters in England sent a printer to assist him. Soon the two men were turning out portions of the Bible for distribution. Carey had spent many years learning the language so that he could produce the scriptures in the local dialect. He had also prepared dictionaries and grammars for the use of his successors.
One day while Carey was away, a fire broke out and completely destroyed the building, the presses, many Bibles, and the precious manuscripts, dictionaries, and grammars. When he returned and was told of the tragic loss, he showed no sign of despair or impatience. Instead, he knelt and thanked God that he still had the strength to do the work over again. He started immediately, not wasting a moment in self-pity. Before his death, he had duplicated and even improved on his earlier achievements.
Illustration on trials: Tongue Cancer
Louis Albert Banks tells of an elderly Christian man, a fine singer, who learned that he had cancer of the tongue and that surgery was required. In the hospital after everything was ready for the operation, the man said to the doctor, “Are you sure I will never sing again?” The surgeon found it difficult to answer his question. He simply shook his head no. The patient then asked if he could sit up for a moment. “I’ve had many good times singing the praises of God,” he said. “And now you tell me I can never sing again. I have one song that will be my last. It will be of gratitude and praise to God.”
There in the doctor’s presence the man sang softly the words of Isaac Watts’ hymn, “I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath,/ And when my voice is lost in death,/ Praise shall employ my nobler power;/ My days of praise shall ne’er be past,/ While life, and thought, and being last,/ Or immortality endures.”
Illustration on Trials: Joke
Doctor to patient: “I have bad news and worse news.”
Patient: “So let’s have it.”
Doctor: “The bad news is that you only have 24 hours to live.”
Patient: “I can’t imagine what could be worse than that!”
Doctor: “I forgot to tell you yesterday.”
Illustration on Trials: Clay pot and furnace
A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain.
Illustration on Trials: The easier our life, the weaker we are.
On December 29, 1987, a Soviet cosmonaut returned to the earth after 326 days in orbit. He was in good health, which hasn’t always been the case in those record-breaking voyages. Five years earlier, touching down after 211 days in space, two cosmonauts suffered from dizziness, high pulse rates, and heart palpitations. They couldn’t walk for a week, and after 30 days, they were still undergoing therapy for atrophied muscles and weakened hearts. At zero gravity, the muscles of the body begin to waste away because there is no resistance. To counteract this, the Soviets prescribed a vigorous exercise program for the cosmonauts. They invented the “penguin suit,” a running suit laced with elastic bands. It resists every move the cosmonauts make, forcing them to exert their strength. Apparently the regimen is working.
We often long dreamily for days without difficulty, but God knows better. The easier our life, the weaker our spiritual fiber, for strength of any kind grows only by exertion.
Illustrations on Trials: Trials have a purpose
Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David Flood and his wife went from Sweden to the heart of Africa – Congo. They met up with another Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, & soon the 4 of them felt led by the Lord to move out of the central mission station in Congo and take the gospel to one of the more remote areas of Congo.
At the village of N’dolera they were refused by the chief, who would not let them enter his village for fear of alienating the local gods. So the two couples decided to go a little away from the village and built their own huts. They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. Their only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chicken & eggs twice a week.
Mrs. Flood decided that if this boy was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead him to Jesus. And in fact, over a period of time she succeeded. But there were no other encouragements. Meanwhile, malaria struck one member of their little group after another. In time the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering & left for the relative security of the central mission station.
Then, in the middle of this primitive wilderness, Mrs. Flood found herself pregnant. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina. The delivery, however, was difficult, & Mrs. Flood was already weak from malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She lasted only another 17 days.
David Flood was discouraged, he felt defeated and the whole world ending upon him. He dug a grave, buried his 27-year-old wife, & then took 17-day-old baby daughter, Aina back to the central mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he said, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, & I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.” With that, he left, rejecting not only his calling, but God Himself.
Eight months later both of the Ericksons were stricken with an illness and died within days of each other. The baby was turned over to some American missionaries, who eventually took her with them back to America.
Aina Flood married a minister and settled in Seattle, Washington. One day a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. As she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There, in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross and on the cross were the words “Svea Flood.”
The story of the picture was about missionaries who had come to Congo long ago, the birth of a baby, the death of the young mother, the one little African boy who had been led to Christ, and how all the missionaries left, after the whites had all left, the boy had grown up & finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village.
The article said that gradually he won all his students to Christ and the children led their parents to Christ, even the chief had become a Christian. There were 600 Christian believers in that one village alone, all because of the sacrifice of David & Svea Flood.
But that is not the end of the story. After some time Aina got a sponsored vacation to Sweden. There she sought to find her real father. An old man now, David Flood had remarried, fathered 4 more children and dissipated his life with alcohol. When she finally met her father “Papa I am Aina Flood?” she said. He turned toward her & began to cry. “Aina,” he said. “I never meant to give you away.” “It’s all right, Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms. “God took care of me.” The man instantly stiffened. The tears stopped. “God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.” He turned his face back to the wall.
Aina said “Papa, I have a story to tell you. You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus Christ. Today there are 600 African people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life ….”
“Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you.” The old man turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. He began to talk. And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades.
This boy later became the leader of an African church with more than 1,10000 members, all because one family went through trials.