Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Terminal Disease Propels Girl to a Life of Purpose

Claire Wineland was born with cystic fibrosis and given about 10 years to live. Despite the illness, she was always optimistic and full of life. At the age of 13 her lungs collapsed, she was in a coma, and doctors gave her a 1% chance to live. After 16 days she came out of the coma and "the near-death experience” had radically transformed her understanding of what mattered most in life.

At the age of fourteen and knowing that she had limited time, Claire started a foundation called The Clarity Project to raise money for other terminally ill children with cystic fibrosis. She then spent the rest of her teenage years giving inspirational speeches filled with insights such as:

  • “The quality of your life isn’t determined by whether you're healthy or sick or rich or poor. It’s determined by what you make out of your experience as a human being.”
  • “The moment you realize it’s not about avoiding suffering, it’s about making something from your suffering, you’re incredibly free.”

When you listen to Claire deliver these insights, it’s hard to believe that she was just a teenager at the time she said them. Although Claire only lived to the age of 21, so many would say that her awareness of her mortality combined with the near-death experience accelerated her understanding of who she was and what she wanted to do in the world.

Possible Preaching Angle:

While many of us spend our entire lives without any sense of meaning, faced with her own mortality, Claire was able to live meaningfully with the knowledge that she might not have as much time as everyone else. As Christians, adversities and calamities can happen, but our meaning and mission come from Christ. Even when life is good, the calling remains.


Aperture, “One Last Week,” YouTube (8-31-22)

Related Sermon Illustrations

Canada Euthanized 10,000 People in 2021

In an issue of CT magazine, Dr. Ewan Goligher shares what he has learned as a Christian doctor receiving requests for physician-assisted dying. He notes that in the past five years, ...

[Read More]

Human Dignity Devalued by Euthanasia Advocates

Conservatives are not alone in opposing the slippery slope that is the growing trend toward advocating for euthanasia. The liberal periodical The Nation, as well as liberal disability ...

[Read More]