Session 8 – Small Group Study Guide
Lesson 6 – Talk About Suffering
PART I: This season of COVID-19 has affected all of us in so many ways. The most obvious amongst those are the hardships that have affected us. In the midst of these sufferings and hardships we are reminded of two ideas from Welch on p. 52: (1) Hardships are unique – no two forms of suffering are identical; (2) Hardships share something in common – they are painful to all of us and therefore something we all share in common.
Our author, Ed Welch uses Israel’s journey to the Promised Land as a metaphor for the suffering and “desert” seasons for our lives. All of us will walk through the wilderness of suffering. Some may be in it longer, or more often, some may be in shorter seasons, but more intense, regardless of the details, we will all suffer in this life.
And in these seasons of suffering, we have to make the choice, “Do I believe God is with me and that He wants me to see more of His sovereignty and love or will I doubt God’s sovereignty and love and look for other ways to get out of the wilderness?”
- Before we can care for others well in their suffering, we need to place ourselves in the same wilderness story that others are in so that we might better empathize and more personally help. Welch puts it this way, “As people who want to help, the wilderness journeys of those we love will evoke our compassion” (53). What is one story of suffering in your life during this season of COVID-19? Why do you think this suffering is particularly hard for you?
- God is working in our suffering. Although our circumstances may seem like the only reality, the greater reality is that “It is also where the Lord tests and trains his royal children” (53). In what ways are you tempted to forget God in your suffering during COVID-19? What would this lead to?
- But in the midst of our suffering, we are reminded that Jesus himself has entered into our suffering by taking on our experiences. And because of this we are joined to Him and know that “the Father loved his perfect Son, who went through the worst of suffering and shame, so he certainly loves us who are joined to his Son by faith” (55). How does this truth change how you look at your suffering and are there other truths that have been especially helpful to you as you reflect upon your suffering during this season of COVID-19?
- A simple and yet important way to express faith and trust in God is by simply speaking to Him, whether in weakness or in strength (56). Write down what it looks like for you to speak to Him in the midst of your suffering. If helpful, read over Psalm 13 and 62 for examples of speaking to God in the midst of suffering – how might you speak similarly to God? See Appendix.
PART II: Knowing how God has entered into your story grants us compassion to walk with others in their suffering. Consider the people you identified in “Lesson 2: Move toward Others” that you wanted to move toward during this small group study. Write their names below and then proceed with the rest of the questions:
|Person #1||Person #2|
- What would it look like for you to express compassion in the midst of their suffering during this season of COVID-19? Write down ways you can thoughtfully, practically, and personally grieve with them and move closer to them during this season – whether it is just standing outside their door to pray with them, send handwritten notes, etc. Whatever you choose, let me encourage you to thoughtfully consider who and where they are. We want our compassion to be customized to that person.
- On p. 56, Welch writes that trusting God is expressed through two ways: (1) Prayer; and (2) Scripture. As you think about their struggles during this season of COVID-19, can you help others to pray with all honesty, and how can you help them connect their prayers to Scripture? Write down what you would say, and what passages you believe would best speak to them in their specific suffering and then take some time to not only express your compassion, but pray with and for them.
- Is there anyone you know who is an unbeliever who is suffering? How could you move towards them? How might you point them to Christ as the real solution to their struggles?
Sharing and Prayer
- Looking back, in what ways were you able to apply what you learned in the previous lesson this past week?
- Think of the 1-2 people you want to focus on caring for and moving toward during the rest of this small group season. Looking ahead, what are some ways that you would like to continue to apply what you just learned in this session to your own life as you seek to grow in caring for one another during this season of COVID-19?
- Share other prayer requests: