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Popular Teenager Finds God Through Tragedy

David Gushee writes:

Before I decided to live for Christ, I'd party with friends. As a guy who wanted to be a "cool and popular jock," I thought it was the thing to do. I'd drink, act stupid, and end up making a fool of myself. But I didn't care, because I was popular and one of my school's top athletes. As for God, I thought he was for weak people. If Christians tried to tell me about Jesus, I'd make fun of them. I thought Christians who always talked about God were crazy. Then something happened my sophomore year that changed everything.

My little sister Ashley, who was a freshman at the time, was riding in a car driven by one of her friends. Worried about getting home late, Ashley's friend started speeding. The car hit a rough railroad track and flipped over. Ashley soon lay in a hospital on life support, in a coma, very close to death.

At first, I was angry with God for what happened to my sister. I shouted to heaven, "If you are who you say you are, how could you let this happen?!" As angry as I was at God, I began to think about how much I really loved my family. It wasn't like I hadn't cared about them before, but all the pain—all those trips to the hospital and all those times we cried together—just began to bring us much closer together. My family suddenly seemed more important than anything else in the whole world.

Even though my sister managed to survive, we were told her brain injury was so severe she'd probably never walk or talk again. But in the months that followed the accident, I helped coach her along as she struggled to stand, and then, eventually, take a few tiny steps. I also listened in amazement as she began to put words together and form sentences. Slowly, very slowly, she was getting better. And slowly, very slowly, I was starting to change.

Along with realizing how important my family was to me, I also thought a lot about God and his place in everything that had happened. Instead of blaming him for it all, I began to thank him for my sister's life and for my whole family. I also began to see that all those things I'd lived for—like partying and acceptance by the popular crowd—weren't really important. Even sports no longer seemed as important as they used to.

Instead, I started going to youth group and really enjoying it. I liked having conversations with my friends about God and Christianity. I wanted to know as much as I could about following God. During my junior year, I committed my life to Christ.

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