This week, do a little housekeeping…
Summer is close! What’s your small group summer plan? We hope you’ll consider maintaining your weekly meeting schedule but also working in a little fellowship and fun. Our current sermon series (3 parts) will be the last for which we provide discussion guides until school starts back in late August. If you’re looking for a good book to study together, video curriculum, or just some ideas for ways to grow closer this summer, let us know! Email Dan Burgess at firstname.lastname@example.org
How’s your group doing on the service front? Summer is a great time to get serious about serving your community. One way you could help would be to volunteer in the Voigt Elementary School garden. If your group is interested in attending a work day or volunteering to maintain the garden for a week in the summer, email Jennifer Gerhardt at email@example.com.
For the next three weeks we’ll be talking about suffering. To help get your group ready for these discussions, you might key in on a few important things to remember:
Just because we’re talking about suffering doesn’t mean group will be sad. The purpose of this study is to identify the blessing in suffering. We’re looking for light here, not dwelling in the dark.
There will be people in your group who have suffered in significant ways. There will also be people who feel like they haven’t. As a leader try to make sure one person’s suffering doesn’t overshadow everyone else. Explain that all suffering—“big” AND “small”—counts as suffering. God uses all of it. This will give all members the permission they need to weigh in.
On Sunday we said, “Suffering is a part of the human experience.” To drive that home, have group members share the titles of movies or tv shows in which a character (or characters) suffers.
We also said, “Suffering is a part of the Christian experience.” Is that surprising or confusing to you? What examples do we have in the Bible of people who followed Jesus suffering?
If Christians suffer just as much (or more than) unbelievers suffer, why become a Christian? Does God have an answer to the problem of suffering? What is it?
In I Corinthians 12:9 God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
What does that mean? How does it work? How does it shape the way we understand suffering?
Share an example of a way God sustained you in suffering. This would be a lovely place to camp out tonight. Don’t rush past the sharing of stories.
If God is with us in our suffering, sustaining us by His grace, that changes both the way we endure our current suffering and the way we anticipate future suffering.
How might knowing God sustains us in suffering change the way we feel about the potential of suffering in the future?
It’s been said, “Anything that causes us to depend on Christ is a good thing.”
Is it difficult for you to come to terms with something obviously bad also being good?
Do you ever struggle to reconcile God’s identity as good Father and His occasional refusal to lift our suffering? Share your feelings with the group. How do we make peace with these two seemingly oppositional truths?
How does the promise of eternity with God affect the way you endure suffering? If you have a story of a time when the certainty of Heaven helped get you through a hard season, share with the group.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.
What sticks out to you as encouraging? Challenging?
Look back at verse 17: “For our light and momentary affliction is producing an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.”
How often do you compare today to what’s been promised for tomorrow? How does comparing today’s suffering against an eternity with Christ help us suffer well?
Often in the Old Testament, God’s people use prayer as an opportunity to remind God of His promises. Before you pray together, have group members share one way they’re suffering right now. As you pray over each member, repeat God’s promise back to Him. Say, “God, make your grace sufficient.” Or, “God, be all we need, just as you’ve promised you would be.”