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Where's the "Gift Return" Receipt?

How to appreciate the gift of suffering
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Harmony and Humility in the Church". See series.


Let's suppose there's a small town on the edge of Iraq, near the Saudi border. Let's call the town Mosel. It's a small community with no other towns within 30 or 40 miles.

Let's suppose this town unexpectedly captures Osama bin Laden as he tries to slip into his Saudi homeland. The town leaders immediately contact our commanding general in Iraq to come take him away. He does, and before long bin Laden is taken into custody to await trial.

The United States government is so grateful to this town that the president makes a trip to meet with Mosel's leaders. He rewards them with improvements to their community: roads, schools, electricity, and air-conditioning. Some of their brightest young men and women are brought to the United States for education in our finest universities. One of them earns a PhD in geology, returns to his hometown of Mosel, and discovers the largest pool of underground oil on the planet. Nobody knew it was there, but there's a vast subterranean lake of oil, dwarfing any other known source of oil in the world.

The town leaders again contact the United States. "How would the United States like to enter into a direct and exclusive agreement with Mosel to have sole access to all this oil at bargain prices? We'll sell it to you for just half the world market price." Suddenly there's the possibility that all of our energy needs will be met forever, and that the price of gas will drop down to 40 cents per gallon!

The vice president proposes that the U.S. should offer to make Mosel the 51st state of the United States of America. Then America could deal with Mosel as one of its states. They could station troops there permanently, build all the pipelines and refineries they needed, and make sure things ...

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Donald R. Sunukjian is professor of homiletics and chair of the Christian Ministry and Leadership Department at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

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