Small Group Questions

Playlist – Believer

Introduction:

Pain and suffering transcends all class, race, ethnicity, culture, and privilege. The wealthiest, most successful person can suffer loss and pain. There is no corner untouched by grief, no demographic, no alliance. If you haven’t suffered, you probably just need to wait a little longer. With anything so potentially devastating, the Christian community has long tried to explain it. But understanding why there is pain in our lives defies easy explanation. The point is, there is no formula for suffering. There is no one answer. There is no pat explanation. But as in every thing in our life, God has a purpose and a plan for our pain. This sermon suggests how to move beyond the pain that comes.

Bottom line: God has a purpose for your pain. 

Something To Talk About:

We can read in Isaiah 48:10 which says, “I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”  The meaning of this verse makes it clear that pain and suffering have a way of bringing our strengths and weaknesses to the surface. Let’s look at the key points from Sunday’s sermon:

  1. How pain got your attention: C.S. Lewis once said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” According to Lewis, one way God gets our attention through pain is that we become humbled and less self-sufficient. No longer is everything going right because of our own efforts, which leads us to a place where we can find our contentment in God. God uses pain to get our attention. Now pain is not the problem. Pain is a wake-up call; pain is a possible warning light that the Lord is trying to get your attention in the midst of hardship. People react in different ways to crisis. It seems you either turn to the Lord, or against Him. And the result is you either get better or bitter. “Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.” (Psalm 20:30 GN) 
  1. Share the lessons you’ve learned: I’ve learned that the way I respond to trials can have a great effect on whether they become roadblocks in my life or expressways for spiritual growth. When I anguish over difficulties, the experiences only serve to weigh me down. But remembering that these trials are part of God’s plan helps us to see them as opportunities to grow and learn. In our daily struggles we should remember all that God has taught us. They are also opportunities to share what we have learned in our trials with others. “We were crushed and overwhelmed…and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us… and He did help us!”  2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (LB)
  1. How God is bringing good out of bad: There is an interesting phenomenon happening in the lives of many Christians. Many Christians have come to realize that they have grown in a deeper relationship with Jesus in a time of pain, whether physically, emotionally or mentally. Because it is in times of pain that we tend to rely on Him more than ever and He shows himself so faithful. This phenomenon happens when we see how God is bringing good out of our pain. Pain can help us to talk to Him constantly and also hear His voice in ways I know I wouldn’t when things are smooth sailing. In pain we become more dependent on Him to help us through our trials. Genesis 50:20 says, “(They) intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good.”      
  1. Share how Jesus gave you hope to change. Can people change? Really change? Not surface or cosmetic, not lip service, not obligatory, but genuine, intentional, courageous, sustainable change on the journey to becoming more Christlike? Jesus is the best way to give people real hope and produce real transformation in their lives. Whatever your situation, whatever your past, whatever your shortcomings, Jesus can change you. Do we trust God enough to allow Him to transform us, our faith, our lives? Christ holds the power to do anything, wherever we have need. Even if the only change we need to make is to believe in His love and to accept His grace. And when we experience real change in our lives we need to share that change with others. James 1:17 says, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What kind of pain affects your life the most, physical or emotional?
  2. What has been one of the most painful times in your life? What is your first response to pain and suffering (i.e. run, deny, anger, hide, avoid, blame, embrace, fix)?
  3. How does pain in your life shape or strengthen your image of Jesus?
  4. Sometimes short-term pain can bring about long-term joy and peace. Have you ever felt like the pain you went through was worth it because of the end result?  Are you willing to endure short-term trials, knowing that there is long-term joy coming in the future?
  5. Have you seen an example in your life, or in the lives of others, how pain or hardships have lead to maturity and transformation? Have you ever seen hardships cause a person to grow bitter, disillusioned, or self centered? How so?
  6. What difficulty are you going through right now? What can others do to help you get through this?
  7. What can you do this week to implement this sermon in our lives?

Take One Thing Home with You:

We recycle everything these days and for good reason.  But what about recycling the pain in our lives. God uses pain to get our attention. Now pain is not the problem. Pain is a wake-up call; pain is a warning light. God will often use a painful experience to cause us to change our ways. It makes sense because God never wastes a hurt and neither should we. If you keep all of that pain and hurt to yourself you will be wasting it. No matter what other people have done to you, God can still recycle the pain and use it for good. God wants to use your pain to help other people. How do you recycle pain? The answer to that questions can be found in the next five days of the Northstar Daily Devotional.