Name one of your favorite historical people. What hard thing did he or she endure to help make him or her the person you respect so much?
Think of a difficult thing you endured as a child. Looking back at it, do you think it shaped you in any way?
As we talk about the ways God uses suffering to shape us, let’s define suffering. What counts as suffering? Give specific examples (grief, betrayal, illness, poverty, etc.).
- Are there types of suffering God won’t use to transform us? Explain.
In which type(s) of suffering have you personally experienced God’s transforming work? Give an example from your life of a difficult thing you endured and emerged from a better person. Where/how did you see God working in that difficult season?
Justin said on Sunday, “For the person pursuing a relationship with God, not an ounce of pain is wasted.”
- Is that true? Does it feel true?
- How does redemption work exactly? Give an example from scripture of God redeeming a person’s pain.
James writes in chapter 1 verse 4: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
- Have you ever NOT let perseverance finish its work? What does that look like? How might we get in the way of what God’s trying to do in our suffering?
- How can we ensure difficult things make us better and not worse?
Do you find the truth of this lesson, that hardship refines and matures us, encouraging? How should this truth inform our behavior in and our posture toward suffering? In other words, does knowing that God uses suffering in big ways change the way you suffer?
Read I Peter 4:12-14
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
What does it mean that God’s glory is revealed when we suffer?
Do you feel like “the Spirit of glory and of God” has ever rested on you? Share. If not, why do you think that is?
Do you tend to rejoice in suffering? What would rejoicing in suffering look like?
Have group members share any hardships they’re experiencing right now and pray over them one by one. Encourage members to share no matter how big or small their current trial is. Especially if one of your members is going through something very big, other members will be reluctant to share. Be sure to affirm their pain, even if it’s small.
Take a moment to listen to Jo Saxon’s story about not having a dad and the way God led her through it: