Small Group Questions

Stress: Under New Management:  A new perspective on change

Introduction:

Change is a part of life. But sometimes, there are seasons when change feels so rapid and relentless that we feel stuck in limbo — overwhelmed, exhausted, and not knowing what to do. But we were made for more than just treading water and barely getting by. Thankfully, our God loves us so much that when we are facing stressful situations, we can still turn to him for guidance, wisdom, and help. So how do we find strength when we are facing stressful times?

Something To Talk About: 

There are seasons when change is so rapid and relentless that you just get tired of it. In this message, we share five truths from the Bible on how to trust God when you’re going through changes that you don’t like. Learn how God can use unavoidable change for good as a test of faith to make you more like Him.

  1. Invest more time alone with God: All relationships take time. A relationship with God, while unlike other relationships in many ways, still follows the rules of other relationships. Spending time alone with a loved one provides the opportunity to truly come to know that person. Spending time alone with God is no different. When we’re alone with God, we draw closer to Him and get to know Him in a different way than we do in group settings. God desires “alone time” with us. He wants a personal relationship with us. He created us as individuals, “knitting” us in the womb (Psalm 139:13). God knows the intimate details of our lives, such as the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). He invites us to come to Him and know Him (Isaiah 1:18). When we desire to know God intimately, we will seek Him (Psalm 63:1) and spend time with Him. We will be like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to His voice (Luke 10:39). Spending time alone with God rids our minds of distraction so that we can focus on Him and hear His Word and come to truly know Him. 
  2. Ask God to help me see His perspective:  Sometimes, we get caught in our own reality. It’s very hard for us to zoom out of our situation and see beyond our circumstances. Sometimes we need a higher perspective. God’s perspective helps you understand the big picture—the reasons behind what He does and what happens in the world. Without God’s perspective in your life, life can be full of constant frustration. You spend your days asking questions you can’t answer: Why is this happening to me? Why is that happening to other people? What is the purpose of this? What is the meaning of life? By gaining perspective, you get outside your own way of thinking and learn to think like God does. Psalm 103:7 says, “He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel” (NIV). The people of Israel saw what God did—the opening of the Red Sea, the manna, the miracles with water, and more. But God let Moses understand the “why” behind what He did. He gave Moses His perspective. Ask God to give you spiritual eyes to see your life from a new perspective. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people ” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV) 
  3. Instead of asking “why is this happening,” ask what do you want me to learn. When something unexpected happens in our life, or in our world, it’s easy for us to ask God why it happened. The Bible is full of people asking that very question: “And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly” (Numbers 11:11) David asked, “O LORD, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) Job asked, “…Why have you made me your target…?”( Job 7:20) The disciples asked, “Why was this man born blind?” (John 9:2) God’s plan isn’t always what our heart wants. We want to understand right now why this has happened. We want to know the reason for it. We want to know what good will come of it. But Scripture continually reminds us that God is God and we are not and there is a purpose behind what is happening in our lives today and we should be asking the what rather than the why. By asking “what” instead of “why” it puts God back on His throne. Asking “what” suggests humility, trusting God. Asking “what” often requires a mindset shift, an intentional decision to trust that God is teaching us something and that it is for our ultimate good and the good of others around us. And that we can impact others with what we’ve been learning.
  4. Focus on what never changes: He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” (Psalm 91:4 ) This world is always changing. The news today will be different tomorrow. In the Bible, James 1:6 (NIV) tells us, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind.” People change, circumstances change, and the world is changing—but God never changes. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is good and trustworthy. We can walk confidently as we depend only on Him. His love for us never changes. J. I. Packer points out that God does not change. His life is always the same. His character is always dependable. His truth, ways, and purposes do not change. The seasons come and go, so focus on the God who remains unchanged and unchanging. “Lord, through all the generations  you have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.” (Psalm 90:1-2)
  5. Keep telling God: I trust you no matter what: As followers of Jesus we are often told to trust in God at all times, but especially when we have experienced difficulties that were quite devastating to us at the time. Trusting in God does not entitle Christians to a problem-free life. Nor does it mean that if a believer has problems that must mean they don’t have enough faith. The Bible is replete with stories of Godly people who suffered trials and sorrows. True trust begins by acknowledging God, His wisdom, and His ways, and then choosing to act on what we’ve acknowledged. Trusting in God means that no matter what happens, we will turn to Him rather than away from Him. That in a nutshell is it. There are no conditions, requirements, expectations, minimum acceptable standards or escape clauses. Even if life hurts real bad and nothing you asked God for worked out the way you were hoping it would. Trusting means you continue to turn to Him. Trusting God means to respond as Job did: “…The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21)  God is dependable. He has earned our trust. He is worthy of our trust. And by trusting Him, we can find the freedom, joy, rest, and peace that comes only from God.   

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think change is important? Why is change so difficult? 
  2. When we don’t like the changes in our life, we can reduce our stress by investing more time alone with God and asking Him to help us see His perspective. How do we receive God’s wisdom? What are the benefits?
  3. When we ask God what He wants us to learn in our troubles and struggles, we can be content “no matter what happens.” Share challenges you face in being full of hope, and the benefits you experience as you develop endurance and strength of character. 
  4. When you are facing relentless change, what do you focus on? How can focusing on God’s love, God’s truth, and God’s plan and purpose provide you with hope and peace?
  5. What is one thing you can completely give to God now? How does our lack of trust in tough times illustrate our distrust in God’s ability and/or His character?
  6. Is trust in God proactive? If so, how? 
  7. How does change affect our trust in God?
  8. What in this week’s message was particularly helpful to you?
  9. What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?

Take one thing home with you:

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

The new year is right around the corner…again. 2022 is coming, ready or not. Most of us will admit we have character traits or habits we would like to change. Some of us even try to modify our behavior. But just changing outward behavior is like rolling back the odometer on a car. You reduce the numbers from 200,000 to 20,000, but you still have a car with 200,000 miles on it. There is hope for the person who sincerely desires to change. The power to change like that means admitting we can’t do it on our own. Remember, lasting change comes from within. We need the help of the Lord.

The Bible says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone and new has come. When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He transforms us–changes us from the inside out. Instead of just rolling back the odometer and being the same old person inside, He gives us a spiritual heart transplant. That is a change that lasts.