Preaching Through Personal Pain

What can you say when the tragedy is yours?

"Two days ago my daughter Laura died."

So opened the most difficult sermon I have ever had to preach. In that message, titled "God on the Witness Stand," I put myself in the place of Job, who, when assaulted by horrible personal tragedy, declared, "But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God."

That morning I preached a dialogue between myself as the prosecutor and God as the defendant. For nine months I had helplessly watched my 3-year-old lose her physical and mental abilities to a malignant brain tumor, and I had a strong case against God.

Friends questioned the wisdom of my decision to preach so soon after my daughter's death. Could I withstand it? Could the congregation handle the emotional impact?

But if I did not use my personal life as the basis for preaching during this time of crisis, would I have either an audience or a message for someone else's time of pain?

Exegeting Our Experience

Those who caution against becoming too personal in preaching raise ...

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