Making Sense of Suffering

Making Sense of Suffering

Discuss your questions surrounding suffering and dig into God's Word to find the truth.

This 5-session study will help you and your group explore the topic of suffering and tragedies with questions like:

  • What is the nature of suffering?
  • How can we learn and grow through tragedy?
  • Where is God in all this?

Study One

Finding God in Our Pain
How do we make sense of our suffering?
Job; Isaiah 53; Luke 13:1-5

Pain and sorrow are part of human existence. Each of us has known hurt and sadness, and often our instinct is to search for a reason why. Are we being punished for some wrongdoing? Is God trying to teach us something? Is God testing our faith?

In an article for Christianity Today, Daniel Tomberlin looks at how we experience both God's holiness and his glory through our suffering. This study delves deeper into the timeless question of why we suffer.

Study Two

Where is God in This Mess?
Trials and troubles can lift us to glory.
Exodus 17:1-7; 1 Kings 19:1-12; 2 Corinthians 12:7-12; James 5:13-16

Mike Yaconelli bumped up against a hard wall when his 18-month-old baby developed cancer. That's when he first began to realize that God can be found in the ugliest messes of our lives. Yaconelli claims that some Christians tend to edit out the messy parts of the Bible. Thankfully, the Spirit-led persons who compiled the 66 books of the Bible didn't do that, for grace and healing often come through the messes we'd like to overlook or avoid.

Study Three

God's Purpose in Our Suffering
We learn and grow through suffering, but there's also a bigger picture.
Job 42:1-6; Mark 1:9-13; 15:33-37; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 12:2-10; Philippians 3:7-11

When we face hardship, many of us take comfort in the thought that we'll grow and become better people for it. But is that always the ultimate reason for our suffering? Mark Galli writes in an article for Christianity Today that our suffering isn't always about us. There's a bigger picture, and sometimes we can't see the larger reasons behind our life's circumstances.

What is the purpose of suffering? Does it happen randomly? Does God send it or simply work through it? How does suffering demonstrate God's character? These are the questions we'll be asking and discussing in this study.

Study Four

Unexplained Tragedy
Why does God allow tragedies to happen?
Job 38:1-41, 42:1-6; Daniel 2:20-22; Proverbs 31:8-9; Psalm 33:5, 36:5, 63:3, 115:3, 119:76-77, 135:6; Mark 15:33-34; Romans 8:17-25, 9:18; 1 John 3:16-20

Sometimes evil happens as a result of people exercising the free will that God lovingly bestowed on them. But what about natural disasters? How do we explain them? Christianity Today editors say in an editorial that any traditional explanation of suffering is bound to sound shallow, incomplete, and clichÉd if it's offered as a sound bite. How do we put these traditional Christian responses to suffering in context?

Study Five

Redeeming Suffering
We don't always know why bad things happen, but we do know the One who brings good from them.
Genesis 37:12-36; 50:15-21; Psalm 44:1-26; Isaiah 55:1-9; John 9:1-7; Acts 3:11-21; Romans 8:18-39

Followers of God have long wondered why he—omnipotent and completely good—allows evil and suffering if he can stop it. The New Atheists have thrown this argument at Christians in recent years, with varying degrees of success. And of course the issue of theodicy—the branch of theology that defends the ways of God—is of perennial interest to students, clergy, and the laity. But the existence of suffering in God's world is much more than an academic question or an intellectual conundrum. Just ask someone who's faced unjust suffering—like Wess Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion International.

"[The] story was so painfully confusing that I did not speak of it for 35 years," Stafford writes in "A Candle in the Darkness," an article in Christianity Today. "Where did my prayers go, my cries for mercy and rescue screamed into my pillow? Did I have the laziest guardian angel in all of heaven–

Total number of pages52 pages

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