Small Group Questions

Hope  In The Dark: Dealing With The Unthinkable

Introduction:

The unthinkable can happen at any instant. Any number of improbable things can happen that can change your life forever. Friends may tell you, “Oh, that will never happen, we don’t need to worry about that.” But you may have to worry about that because “that” can cause the unthinkable to happen.  We may play a part, a cause and effect in the unthinkable or we may have nothing to do with the unthinkable occurring. There is no formula, or program that prepares us when the unthinkable occurs or how to effectively deal with it. You may be facing what you consider to be “unthinkable” circumstances. The script of your life you worked so hard for so long may have just gone up in smoke.   

Something To Talk About: 

  1. Unthinkable #1 Caused by us: We want God to prevent bad things from happening in our lives, but the reality is we are often the root cause. Sometimes we bring that pain on ourselves by the bad choices we make or the influence of the company we choose to keep. The affair was fun-the divorce was painful. The shopping spree was invigorating. The amount that had to be paid off was overwhelming. We underestimate our personal responsibility when the unthinkable happens, while tending to blame God or questioning why He chose not to prevent the unthinkable from happening. Throughout the course of history, God has woven certain people into His plan that, not by accident or coincidence, have made bad choices that led to unfortunate outcomes. Jonah immediately comes to mind  When God spoke to Jonah, He commanded him to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh—but he refused out of stubbornness. Instead, he did the opposite—he ran away from the Lord and set out on a ship in the opposite direction. It was there that God sent a violent storm to capsize the ship, but just before, the sailors tossed Jonah overboard and the seas went calm. Instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed by a whale that God provided. Being in the stomach of a whale qualifies as unthinkable. God tells us what we must do and what we must not do in His word. It is the blueprint for making good choices and doing God’s will for your life.
  2. Unthinkable #2 not caused by us: There are times when the unthinkable is of our doing. But in other times we find ourselves dealing with the unthinkable due to circumstances outside of our control. There is a story in Acts 3 of a lame man outside the gate of the temple who is poor because of a disability he had done nothing to deserve and out of his control. In verse 3 the man tells Peter and John “for some money.” Verse 4 says, “Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!”  The beggar was encouraged thinking he was going to receive some money. But Peter says “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”(vs.6) Verses 7-10 says,”Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded!” Even when your circumstances are not of your doing God is there and can be trusted.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you faced the unthinkable in your life?
  2. 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?
  3. What kind of response to difficult circumstances are you most likely to have?
  4. What purpose do you think God is pursuing you in your current circumstances? Explain.
  5. Nick Vujicic was born in Australia without any arms or legs. These days, he spends a lot of his time in a wheelchair…that is, when he’s not playing soccer, surfing, fishing, swimming, boating, vacationing, or speaking to thousands of young people about the importance of making good choices in life. What examples can you give about people that have no control over their circumstances, yet continue to trust God?
  6. What we focus on tends to define what we see. That may sound like an obvious statement, but Christians often have a difficult time focusing on Christ when circumstances are difficult. What are some practical ways we can keep our focus on Christ when we’re going through difficult circumstances?
  7. Can we prevent the unthinkable from happening? If so how? If not, why not?
  8. What are one or two practical ways you can keep an upward and outward focus when you go through tough circumstances?

Take one thing home with you:

What would you do on the worst day of your life?  Two days after her seventeenth birthday, Laura Welch was out for a drive. The wind in her hair, music coming from the radio and her best friend in the front seat. In a split second, Laura made a mistake. She didn’t see the stop sign, and the blur of onrushing vehicles ground to a standstill by the terrible crunching of metal. Laura and her friend were shaken up, but able to recognize the car that had been knocked through the intersection. It belonged to seventeen-year-old Michael Douglas, a popular student in their school. He was also Laura’s boyfriend. He had been thrown from the car, suffering a broken neck. By the time help arrived, he was dead. Laura knew it was her fault.

She was devastated. “No words to describe it,” Laura says now, nearly forty years later. As an adult and a parent, she understands now more than ever the painful consequences of that moment. It brought devastation not only to her life, but heartbreak to another family. It was without doubt the worst day of Laura’s life.

It would be many years before Laura could think of dating seriously again. But romance unexpectedly flourished, and Laura married. After that day in 1963, Laura found only one real strength that would not fail her, and that was her faith in God. Only her faith saw Laura through that day, and the days that followed. Never again did she carry a casual attitude about life or about her trust in God.  And today, both Laura and her husband – President George W. Bush – look back on that entire season of struggle as the turning point for their marriage, their family, and for their political journey. Laura, however, says her life changed years before, on an ordinary day in 1963 that became the worst day of her life (Kenneth T. Walsh,  U.S. News and World Report, April 30, 2001, pg. 22).

What will you do in the wake of the worst moment of your life? What will you do when you are faced with the unthinkable? At the intersection of tragedy or crisis, will that day drive you from your faith – or to a new depth of trust in God?