Discouragement Sermon Illustrations

Discouragement Sermon Illustrations

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In the The Life of William Cowper, Goldwyn Smith wrote the following lines: "Let those whom despondency assails read this passage of Cowper's life and remember that he lived to write 'John Gilpin' and 'The Task.'"

It was the story of Cowper's early discouragements and disappointments. He had received an appointment to a clerkship in the House of Lords, but as soon as he received the appointment he began to conjure up visions of the terrors of an examination and of hostility to him in the office where he had to study the Journal, until his mind was deranged. First, he tried to take his life with laudanum; then he resolved to fly to France, change his religion and bury himself in a monastery; then he turned again to self-destruction and, taking a coach, ordered the coachman to drive him to the Thames, intending to throw himself into the river. But once again he drew back. On the night before the day appointed for the examination before the Lords he lay for some time with the point of his penknife pressed against his heart, but could not bring himself to thrust the knife home. Then he tried to hang himself, but the rope by which he was suspended broke. Such is the history of the man who lived to write "John Gilpin" and "The Task"β€”and what is more than that, to live to write "God Moves in a Mysterious Way His Wonders to Perform."

Napoleon used to say of his famous marshal, Massena, that he had a remarkable reserve strength and that he was never himself till the tide of battle began to turn against him. He took new life from what to many would bring discouragement.

An old man with a bundle of stick on his back sank down by the roadside and with a groan said he wished that he were dead. To his surprise and terror Death at once made his appearance and asked him what he would have. The old man said quickly, "My bundle on my back and my feet once more on the road. In his discouragement what he asked for was not really what he desired. That is true of many of our wishes in the hour of discouragement.

In the lives of the great men who have toiled for the true and lasting greatness of righteousness in themselves and in their fellows, we hear very often a note of defeat and failure. "The characteristic of waning life," writes Dean Farrar, "is disenchantment, a sense of inexorable weariness, a sense of inevitable disappointment. We trace it in Elijah, and John the Baptist; we trace it in Marcus Aurelius; we trace it in Francis of Assisi; we trace it in Roger Bacon; we trace it in Luther. All in vain. We have lived, humanly speaking, to little or no purpose. We are not better than our fathers. 'Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?'" (Matt. 11:3). They thought that they had failed, but this was because the desert and the juniper tree were poor places for vision.

A Negro hod carrier, sick of his job and weary of life, sighed audibly as he started up the ladder with his bricks, "I wish I was dead." Another worker high up in the building overheard his wish and, being of a mind to accommodate him, dropped a load of bricks on his head. When the Negro came to, he exclaimed, "Lord, I thought you could take a joke!"

It is a good thing that God can take a joke, or rather, that he does not take us at our word in the time of depression and discouragement.

There is a legend that Satan decided to get rid of a number of his tools, so he arranged an auction ... There were envy, deceit, malice, sensuality, enmity, thoughtlessness and many other tools which Satan had used successfully (priced very low). One piece, marked very high, was labeled Discouragement.

"Why do you want so much for this tool?" asked one bidder.

"This tool," replied the old tempter, "has always been my most useful one. You can see it has had more wear than the rest. It is used as a wedge to get into a man's mind when all other means fail. Practically every human being has had this tool used on him, although very few know that I'm the one wielding it." . . . As it worked out, none could afford the price Satan demanded for Discouragement ... so he is still using it.β€”William S. Deal, United Evangelical Action

Never Give Up

A discouraged man went once to President Roosevelt with the tale of his misfortunes. He could not see the way out. But the man who had himself learned to smile when everything looked dark told him a story that sent him away with a determination to put his best foot foremost, to look on the bright side, and to make and hold on to the determination to try again and yet again until everything came out right.

The story told by President Roosevelt that had such an effect on his attitude to life was concerning an incident in the life of General W. W. Duffield, once chief of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, who for twenty-five years had been working out unweariedly a book on ten-place logarithms.

"These calculations of half a lifetime filled about five thousand pages of foolscap," the man afterward said in repeating the life-giving story. "The intricate and exhaustive tables and equations were of such value and the prospect of their publication of such a constant hope to their author that he carried them about with him in an old-fashioned carpetbag.

"The scientist's obvious concern on all occasions for his carpetbag finally attracted the attention of professional thieves, who suspected that it contained a hoarded fortune in bills and bonds, Watching their opportunity, one of the criminals engaged the venerable scientist in conversation while a confederate decamped with the bag. To the thief the contents were doubtless regarded as worthless. Nothing was ever heard of the manuscript.

"It was a tragic blow to the scientist, and would have been a serious loss to mathematicians in general, had General Duffield given up. On the contrary, he did not waste a day in despair, but grimly set to work at once reproducing his tables.

"They were finally published by the government in a volume of eight hundred pages. In astronomy and in the daily calculations of actuaries in the United States Treasury and other large financial institutions it is regarded as indispensable."β€”Gospel Herald.

Barges, Ships, or Liners?

"There are three kinds of Christian workers," said someone with a very vivid imagination, "canal barges, sailing ships, and Atlantic liners." The canal barge needs to be dragged to work. Often they do wonderfully well, but on the whole one volunteer is worth three pressed men.

The sailing ship makes fine going as long as wind and tide are with them, but when things get hard, when "winds are contrary," when work is discouraging, they turn tail and sail away.

But give us the Atlantic liner type of worker, the man who can fight his way through wind and tempest, because within him there burns the hot throb of the mighty furnace of the love of Christ.β€”Onward.

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