In Significant Moments (Part 7: Suffering and Joy) – Sermon Discussion Guide – 10-22-23
October 22, 2023
Louie Konopka Rockford Campus October 22, 2023
In Significant Moments
Part 7: Suffering and Joy
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE
Leader Development Class (Sunday nights) – Our team has come together to make space for our leaders to come together to connect, to grow, and to leave charged up to lead well. This opportunity runs weekly during the Sunday evening programming at Rockford. It is a class you can jump in on at any time. Our goal is that all of our leaders would be connected into trainings at least 4 times a year in order to keep sharp and to help sharpen others. For questions or suggestions on class topics, please reach out to Trent Heaton ([email protected]).
Guy’s Game Night (10/27, 6pm) – Men at Magnify is gathering men from all corners of our church to hang out, eat lots of food and play games together. This will be a fun night to get to know other guys. Check out the link for more details. https://magnifychurch.org/event/guys-game-night/
TOGETHER IN LIFE
Tell a story about the most recent time you experienced joy, big or small.
TOGETHER IN THE WORD
THIS WEEK’S KEY PASSAGE: James 5:1–12
Note: We encourage you to read the entire text together as a group out loud.
Suffering is a big topic. The Bible teaches that it is common to all of us, constructive in accomplishing God’s good purposes, corrective when we go astray, corporate (not to be addressed in isolation), often confusing, is an element of a cosmic battle, and ultimately makes Christ displayed in our lives. We must learn to enter suffering with joy.
Finding Yourself in God’s Story
Our first step to understanding suffering is to place our experience in the context of the 5 Majors. They remind us that God is good and made a good world; that the Fall is the worst thing to ever happen to us, and we did it to ourselves; that Jesus suffered all His life like we do and then suffered the Cross on our behalf; that our life in Jesus is life in community with one another; and that Jesus is making all things new and will one day give us the gift of 4 “no mores”—death, mourning, crying, and pain.
- Which of these truths do you find the most helpful as you walk through life? Which of these truths do you find it hard to relate to?
- Sometimes when we hear about suffering, someone will say “we live in a fallen world.” What do we miss if we stop there? How does Jesus’s life and ministry make a difference?
Constructive and Corrective
Suffering is always constructive and sometimes corrective, too. Constructive means whatever is happening, we can trust God will accomplish good even when we can’t see it. Corrective means that when your sin is involved, God wants to help you overcome it.
- Can you think of a time when God brought good out of something bad in your life?
- How long did it take you to see the good that God was accomplishing?
- Have you ever felt like God was punishing you? Why?
- If there is something you need to confess, don’t let anything hold you back.
- How might it change your perspective to know that God’s correction is meant to help you and not to condemn you?
Common and Corporate
Louie said “never underestimate the suffering of the sheep.” That includes all of us. Not only is suffering common to all mankind, but being a follower of Jesus doesn’t stop it from entering our lives. It often means more suffering, not less! But belonging to the church means we should never have to suffer alone, or leave anyone else to suffer alone.
- Name a time when the church (as a group or as individuals) came alongside you in a time of need.
- Have you ever had to endure difficulty alone? What was that like? How did God bring you through?
- How aware are you of the needs of those around you? (Remember: our desire is that we first do what we can for ourselves and then prioritize the needs of the people in our life group.)
- Sometimes the needs of those around us can feel overwhelming. What should you do in that situation?
Confusing and Cosmic
We shouldn’t be surprised that suffering challenges us and those we love. For centuries the “problem of evil” has been a stumbling block to Christians and non-Christians alike. Knowing God is in charge should be a comfort, but sometimes it just makes the situation worse. In a similar way, knowing our lives are part of a larger battle against the spiritual forces of evil can give us perspective, but it can be discouraging, too.
- How has the presence of pain and suffering in the world impacted your faith? How are you doing right now?
- We don’t always know why God allows these things, but we can know for certain that God is good. What are your favorite reminders of God’s goodness? How do you hold on to them and remember them in difficult times?
- How does it feel to hear that others who have gone through suffering can say that they are glad for God accomplished through it?
Take turns re-reading the verses referenced in this sermon. If short on time, choose a few that stood out to you.
- John 16:33
- Romans 5:3–4
- Hebrews 12:5–6
- Romans 12:15
- 2 Corinthians 1:3–5
- Matthew 11:2–3, 6
- Job 1:20–22
- John 9:1–3
What do these verses teach you about the goodness of Jesus Christ?
What do these verses teach you about how to cultivate joy?
TOGETHER IN PRAYER
Before you bring your needs before God, take time to thank Him for who He is. Take a moment to thank God for what He has done as well, not just for you personally, but in His Word and in history. Then pray for one another about anything significant that came up in today’s discussion.
Remember: never underestimate the suffering of the Shepherd either. While we may not know why a particular evil or suffering is in our lives, we can know for sure that it’s not because God doesn’t care. It’s not a lack of love. He dealt with evil and suffering by entering into it with us and enduring the cross for us. He understands. And He is faithful to make all things new because He rose again.