Sunday, April 23rd
One of the most difficult questions many of us confront in our faith journey is how a loving God could allow so much evil and suffering if He has the power to stop it. In the face of sickness, loss of a loved one, financial ruin, war, abuse, etc., we are left wondering what the purpose was, whether God cares, and how to find hope in the midst of pain. What truths might we learn about suffering when we ask God the tough questions?
Work through the following Scriptures and questions on your own, and get together with your running partner, Life Group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning!
- Would you consider yourself to be someone who has a high pain tolerance? Share a time, perhaps even from when you were a kid, when you can recall experiencing significant physical pain (e.g., a broken bone, dentist visit, etc.).
- Would you say you generally feel distant and frustrated with God in the face of suffering, or do you find it pushes you closer to Him?
- Read Isaiah 63:9. Can you think of a time of difficulty in your life when you really felt held or comforted by God? What made you feel so supported?
- This week we heard that emotional pain, or pain caused by relational hurt, often causes us the greatest suffering. Can you recall a time someone caused you relational hurt? Can you recall a time you caused someone else relational hurt? What are some ways God calls us to address and deal with such instances?
- Read Revelation 21:3-4. In this, God assures us that the ultimate answer to “why suffering” comes through an eternity spent with Him. When thinking of the promises of heaven, what do you most look forward to?
- Read John 16:33 and 2 Corinthians 12:9. Whether you are currently experiencing hardship or whether it simply lies somewhere down the road, how can you respond to the pain differently, knowing that it will end soon (in this life or the next) and that God will never leave your side in the meantime?
Isaiah 63:9 — In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.
Revelation 21:3-4 — …“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
John 16:33 — “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 — Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Looking to dive deeper into the “Why Suffering” question? Check out these books on the subject:
Additionally, even as we begin to better understand why we experience pain and suffering, it often remains necessary to seek help with healing. If you are suffering with pain due to loss, abuse, relational brokenness, or the like, Gateway has great resources for you. Please visit gatewaychurch.com/restore for more information.
Spiritual Outcome — Steadiness and Perseverance