On Trials and Suffering
Let’s start with a time of worship, using "Though You Slay Me" by Shane and Shane, featuring a word from John Piper.
In the midst of our suffering, where can we find the strength, the grace and the desire to lift up a song to God? This is the heart of the phrase, “sacrifice of praise”–that in our pain, we are still able to see through the agony and find the God Who is guiding us through it all, to see His love, His grace, and His mercy.
Ask each person in the group:
At least one thing they’re thankful for this week.
At least one thing they’re praying for, that we can include in our own prayers.
How they’ve done with last month’s “I will” statement
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21
Trials are a part of life. There will be days when everything seems to be going great, and it almost feels like there’s not a care in the world. But there are also days when it feels like one blow after another, whether it’s health, money, or relationships. How do we handle difficult times?
The story of Job is an often used example of what it means for a believer to gracefully suffer the tragedies of life. Job, a man who was described as blameless and upright, who lived God, and shunned evil (Job 1:1-2), lost his riches, his children and his good health, after God allowed Satan to take it all away from him as part of an argument over Job’s character.
Job delivers this famous line after being told that he has lost his riches and children, and most believers often use this line on its surface levels to encourage the suffering person. On the surface, it seems appropriate: it is an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty, control and comfort, in the face of absolute disaster. Job does not appear to blame God for the calamities that suddenly befall him. It’s a brave declaration of faith in God, and an attempt to worship Him, at the very moment when the pain is fresh. However, when we read the rest of the book, we see that Job isn’t always this confident in God.
Later on, God allows further suffering. Job suddenly develops painful sores, and those around him, including his wife and best friends, tell him that perhaps he is, in fact, responsible for his suffering, for some sin that he has yet to acknowledge. Understandably, Job protests his innocence, and eventually ends up losing almost all hope, and begins to resent and blame God.
In the midst of trials, it is understandable if we were to feel a sense of self-pity, thinking that God is just playing with us, or choosing to test us unnecessarily. Haven’t we all had moments of despair, that when we pray, it feels like He doesn’t–or chooses not to–respond? Job even says in Job 30:20,
“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.”
We, of course, know that God does answer–and He does two things: 1) He addresses Job’s self-righteousness, and He restores everything that Job lost.
While Job never actually curses God, nor does he accuse God of injustice, he clearly believes that he has not done anything to deserve what is happening to him. God reminded Job of His power, and afterwards, after Job repents of his self-righteousness, He restores to Job what he had lost.
When we go through trials, it would be understandable for us to feel a sense of despair, maybe even a little resentment, towards God. But the example of Job tells us that we should not stay in this mindset–it is a self-righteous mindset that acknowledges God’s power but not God’s will. While we cannot understand the ways of God, we can trust that God is working things out according to His purpose, and Romans 8:28 tells us, “we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
When we accept Jesus Christ into our lives as our personal Lord and Savior, we are restored to God and promised eternal life. We can take comfort in knowing that whatever trials or suffering we have in this life are temporary, and we will one day be blessed to be in God’s presence in heaven, where suffering is no more. May this knowledge be your comfort in times of difficulty, and may God send you comfort and the peace that comes with knowing that He is a God who will restore to you what was lost.
• What can we say about God’s character based on Job 1:21?
• What can we say about man’s character based on Job 1:21?
• What is one practical thing I can do when I am suffering?
Make an "I will" statement in response to the Word.
This example may help: "Because I am <state a personal characteristic that you would like to improve with God's help>, I WILL commit to <state an action that you will commit to, with God's help> because I know God is God of restoration."
"Because I am a person who easily gets depressed in times of difficulty, I WILL try to reach out to others to help remind me of God’s goodness, because I know God is a God of restoration, and He can use others to encourage me."