09 Jul Discussion Guide: The Best Is Yet To Come Week 12
Take the first few minutes of your time together to listen to what God is doing in one another’s lives and pray for any specific needs people in your group may have.
This week we continue our series titled “The Best Is Yet To Come.” We will be walking through the book of Acts and looking at who Jesus has called us to be and what Jesus has called us to do in light of all that He has already done. As we study the descriptive history of the early church our hope is that these truths will move in our hearts to become a prescriptive call to go into all the world and be witnesses for Christ.
What is the greatest atrocity you’ve ever witnessed?
What is the greatest miracle you’ve ever witnessed?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
Has there ever been a time when you felt God had failed you? Why did you feel that way?
If God had miraculously delivered you from that moment when you felt He had failed you, how would that have changed your perspective about Him in that moment?
Do people tend to let their circumstances define who God is, or let who God is redefine their circumstances?
What does each of those perspectives say about who God is in our lives?
When we let our circumstances define who God is in our lives then what we are really saying is that God exists to give us what we want. Like a genie in a bottle, when life is going well we confess our joy in knowing God, but when life does not go the way we want then we reject His presence in our lives and blame Him for our woes. If this is our mindset then we are really just loving what God can give us or do for us, but not really loving Him at all. We’re just using God for what He can give us.
If, however, we allow who we know God to be, who the Scriptures proclaim Him to be, to redefine how we see or interpret our circumstances, then what we are saying is that God is good all the time and He sits enthroned over all of creation, including my life, and I trust Him and love Him regardless of my conditions. We are claiming He is God and we are not. We are claiming that He matters more than our own comfort, pleasure or happiness. We claiming He is trustworthy and faithful no matter what.
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
“…suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads.”
What would you say we most need in times of pain and suffering?
There are two things we most need in times of suffering. First, we need to know that God is near, that He has not abandoned us or forsaken us. And, the Gospel reminds us of this, that while we were at our worst God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us and to rise again on our behalf. However, in the midst of our suffering this cerebral Truth can be so hard to hold onto when our physical world seems to be falling apart.
Therefore, we also need something else that serves as a physical reminder of God’s nearness and faithfulness. We need a community of people who will walk with us in our pain, bear the burden of our suffering, serve us, pray for us, sit with us, and be a ministry of mercy to our hearts. This not only gives us a place to express our grief, frustration and even anger, but it also gives us a tangible reminder of God’s unconditional love. When we are broken and weak and at the end of our rope with nothing to offer others, and yet those others continue to serve, pursue and comfort us in love it is only because there is a God who loves us unconditionally.
Why is community so important, not only in times of suffering, but in life in general?
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Does the fact that Jesus was willing to suffer as a human being, for the purpose of your redemption, change the way you think about your own suffering? If so, how? If not, why not?
When we have hope and joy in the midst of our suffering, what does that communicate to the world about Jesus and His Kingdom?
It demonstrates that Jesus matters more to us than anything this world has to offer. It shows that He has the position of glory in our lives. It demonstrates His goodness and faithfulness.
When we are surrounded by people who are willing to bear the burden of our suffering and walk with us through it, what does that communicate to the world about Jesus and His Kingdom?
It demonstrates that our relationships go much deeper than affinities or commonalities, much deeper than mere friendship as the world would define that word. It shows others that we share an unconditional love that surpasses our inconveniences or differences. It shows that love the friend more than the friendship. And when the world sees that then the question looms on the horizon, “where do you get that kind of love?”
To which we can respond, “From the Lord who loved us when we had nothing to offer Him.”
Is there anyone here who is suffering through something? If so, how can we as a community walk with you through that?