What we want for our people (Outcome): For our people to understand God’s perspective during suffering.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Job 38:1-3 (ESV)
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; Job 42:5 (ESV)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8 (ESV)
When we suffer and God comes close to us, it is a wonderful opportunity to hear His voice. What He has to say to us in these times can bring peace, provide comfort and help us see things the way God sees them. He also reveals Himself to us in new ways as we reach out to Him.
There is nothing like suffering to catapult us towards God. In that process of coming to Him we discover Him afresh. We discover a new side to Him.
‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pain’
CS LewisCS Lewis
What is God saying in my suffering?
After much lament and questioning by Job in his suffering, after listening to all his friends’ theories and judgements, suddenly God speaks (Job 38:1-3). Job had spoken, Job’s friends had spoken and now it was His turn.
The voice of the Lord in the midst of our suffering is the most important voice we will hear. When He speaks, via His word or directly to our heart, we can full lean on those words as true and trustworthy. We hear words of instruction, words of comfort, words of encouragement, wisdom & truth.
The words of the Lord to you become anchors in times of suffering. They remind you that He knows everything about the situation and that He has a way through. He will only tell you what you need to know, no more, no less.
He won’t always answer all the questions you are asking. But He will give you what you need.
The beauty of revelation
There is something about suffering that if we engage with God, through brutally honest lament, that we will see something about Him that we have not seen before. This is the beauty of the revelation of Him.
And when you have seen something about Him, you have beheld a new characteristic you were unaware of, it weaves itself into your history with Him. And no one can take that away from you. Maybe in suffering you will find out about the goodness or God, maybe it’s the mercy of God you will see, perhaps it’s the faithfulness of God that will come into view. It is in you for life, as Philippians reminds us: knowing Him, not just about Him.
Connect Group Resources:
- Any online resource that gives decent context to the letters to the churches on suffering (e.g Trash Your Bible, Bible Project, other commentaries)
- Bible Project Overview on Job
Connect Group Discussion Questions:
GATHER: (ensure that these questions centre around community)
- Have you experienced the beauty of revelation through suffering? Can you encourage others by sharing about it?
- What do you think God is trying to say to us during times of community suffering, such as the pandemic?
- How can we better encourage one another when we are experiencing persecution suffering?
GROW: (ensure that these questions prompt discussion on personal growth and maturity)
- What do I need to remember before I can ‘count it all joy’ (James 1:2) in facing various trials?
- Have you given God the space to speak to you in this season?
- What has God taught me in suffering so far in my life?
GO: (ensure that these questions prompt discussion on going and spreading the good news)
- People often blame God for suffering but sometimes it is the moment He finally has their attention. Pray for opportunities to have spiritual conversations with those facing difficulties and the courage to take those opportunities!
- How do I feel about possible rejection when sharing the gospel?
- What did Jesus suffer for the kingdom and how can I also embrace this same suffering?