Sunday, January 22nd
Although God promises us many things that are positive, if we follow Him, He also tells us that we will all experience suffering (John 16:33). Though the degree and form of the trials we experience vary from person to person, no one leads a perfectly easy life. While we all experience hardship, we react to it differently, depending on our perspective on it. Will your suffering take from you, or will you take from it, seizing the opportunity to strengthen and grow?
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!
- Think back to a time in your life when you experienced hardship. Looking back, did you respond positively or negatively?
- Read John 16:33. While we can expect difficult things in this life, Jesus says He has overcome this world. What does His promise mean to you?
- To have the perspective needed to find strength in God through our trials, we must walk through the various stages of faith. First is a life-changing awareness of our need for God, which leads to asking for forgiveness for our sin. Second is a spiritual growth stage where we learn what it means to be a Christ follower. Third, we apply what we learn by serving God and people. But then, we sometimes get stuck on the fourth stage, a spiritual wall or crisis in our lives, that causes us to dig deeper into our faith or run the other way. Why do you think we sometimes run?
- In order to push through during hard times, seizing the chance to grow deeper with God, we have to focus on the right perspective. Read Romans 8:31-32 and 37. If God is enough for us and has wisely and lovingly given us what we need, how does that change how you think about suffering in your life?
- After digging in with God in the hardship, the next stages of faith involve more obedience in giving to and serving God, but the difference is that we can now do these things out of a deep sense of security in God’s love for us instead of out of obligation or a need to be “good enough.” Since you know that strength and joy are waiting for you on the other side of the wall of suffering, what changes in your perspective can you make in order to embrace this stage of faith?
- Whether you are currently enduring hardship or not, how can you face it differently in the future, knowing that a greater degree of freedom waits for you on the other side, if you cling to God and trust Him to give you what you need?
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.
Romans 8:31-32, 37 — What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?…overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
DIGGING DEEPER — Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
SPIRITUAL OUTCOME — Steadiness & Perseverance