Small Group Questions

Different Faith inTrials    

Introduction:

Are you presently facing a testing of your faith? Are you in the dark regarding circumstances in your life? One of the things that we find hardest to handle is the testing of our faith. It calls for too much internal struggle for us to come out on the other side. We want to know the answers. We want to see the light at the end of the tunnel far in advance. It is just too much of a challenge for us to go through a long testing of our faith and the discipline of darkness, yet God requires this of each one of us if we are to grow spiritually.

Bottom Line: You can have hope and purpose in the midst of difficult times. 

Something To Talk About:

God engineers and even brings us into the very thing that tests our faith. Why does He do this? What we rarely can comprehend at the start – especially of a life challenge – is that He permits trials for our good and benefit. He doesn’t intend to do us harm. He intends to bless us if we move closer to Him rather than farther away.   

  1. Trials reveal your faith: Trials challenge what you rely on. Everyone has their coping mechanisms they rely on to feel better. It may be money, food, entertainment, friends or financial stability. In a trying time, the typical things we rely on no longer bring any aid. Trials and tribulations have the power to either keep us from abundant life or produce in us character that sustains abundant life. The choice is up to us. James 1:2-4 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” Allow the phrase, “count it all joy” to settle in for a second. Scripture commands us to count our trials as joy and run at them head-on for the sake of being transformed into a faith-filled, steadfast child of God. In order to face trials the way God intends, we must have faith. We have to believe that God has an outcome as beneficial as the trial is hard. We have to have faith that God will see us through every problem that stands in our way and produce in us a steadfastness on which we can experience abundant life. Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”
  2. Trials draw you closer to God: When the scripture says, “when you meet trials of various kinds,” it’s basically guaranteeing you’ll have trials and disappointments in your life. God has allowed these trials to come into your life — but He didn’t necessarily cause them, nor is He necessarily punishing you for something you did wrong. In fact, God wants to use this to draw you closer to Himself. After all, problems and trials are part of life. It’s natural for us to shrink back from them, and we all wish we could be free of them and live a trouble-free life. But life isn’t like this, and we all know it can radically change — even in a matter of seconds. The real question is how we will react. Will we react in anger or despair? Will we lash out in hatred or revenge? Or will we turn to God in faith and seek His help? Trials will either make you turn away from God or they will drive you to Him. If we turn to Him our faith grows stronger, and afterward we’ll be better equipped to meet the next challenge that comes our way. Jesus understands your pain, and He longs to be the One you cling to through good times and bad. You can choose to look elsewhere for comfort, or you can use your hardship as a source of growth. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. How have the trials that you have experienced brought you closer to, or pushed you further away from God? How have trials affected your faith?
  2. When you read James 1:2-4, it seems like suffering is a major way in which God produces maturity and perseverance in us. Why do you think trials refine us so well?
  3. James instructs fellow Christians to “count it all joy when you meet various trials.” What does engaging trials with joy mean? How do we have joy in the midst of trials?
  4. Think of a time when a trial revealed your faith. What kind of faith did it reveal: inherited faith, shallow faith, conditional faith, or genuine faith?
  5. Have you experienced a trial that drew you closer to God? What caused you to move closer to God instead of moving away from Him?
  6. God is using the trials of your life for His purpose. Agree or disagree and why? What benefit have you noticed as you’ve walked through a trial?
  7. How can our group be encouraging to those going through trials?

Take one thing home with you

Trials reveal who we are.

Trials will test us. Trials will show us who we really are. Trials will reveal our character, and our strengths and weaknesses. We may consider ourselves generous, honest, or deeply committed to our faith, but the depth of those beliefs will be uncovered  when we’re under pressure. When we go through trials, we learn whether or not we really have the character, the commitment and the faith we think we have.

One reason God allows us to go through tests and trials is so the hidden things in our hearts can be exposed. Until they are exposed, we cannot do anything about them. But once we see them, we can begin to face them and ask God to help us. God does not allow us to go through difficult times because He likes to see us suffer; He uses them for us to recognize our need for Him. Everything you go through ultimately does work out for your good because it makes you stronger and builds your endurance. It develops godly character. It helps you to know yourself and to be able to deal with things at an honest level with God and take care of those things so you can reach spiritual maturity.