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Those Who Rise

Why suffering is a necessary part of building great families
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Growing Great Families". See series.


The story is told of a farmer's donkey who stumbled into an old, dry well. For hours the animal cried piteously as the farmer tried to sort out what to do. Finally, the farmer decided that, as the animal was old and the dangerous pit needed to be covered, it wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He promptly invited his neighbors over to help him fill in the well.

As the first shovel-loads of dirt pattered down on top of him, the donkey seemed to sense what was happening and cried out in panic. But then, quite strangely, the animal went silent. The farmer looked down the well and stopped in astonishment. As each spade-full of dirt struck his back, the donkey shook it off and shifted his feet, stepping up on top of the fallen earth. Many hours and shovel-loads later, the donkey rose up over the edge of the well and, eventually, trotted off!

Is there any parent or grandparent who doesn't hope that their children will prove to be creatures like that? Maybe the donkey comparison isn't too flattering, but most all of us pray that the people we love (and even ourselves) will somehow manage to rise above the pitfalls and the dirt-loads that all of us face along the journey of life.

There will come a day when she doesn't make the team or the play she'd set her heart on … when he doesn't get the glory, the grade, or the girl. There will be seasons when the job or investment doesn't pan out, or when the illness or infirmity doesn't go by, but actually gets worse. There may come a time when finances or failures are totally crushing and the creditors or critics come bearing big shovels—a period when marriage or parenting or caring for a parent feels like being buried alive.

What do you say then? What do you do ...

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Dan Meyer is pastor of Christ Church.us, a nondenominational, multisite church with locations in Oak Brook and Lombard, Illinois.

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Sermon Outline:


I. The whole counsel of God

II. Suffering produces perseverance.

III. Perseverance produces character.

IV. Character produces hope.