When We Suffer

By Cameron Silsbee

Begin with prayer

Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Read this overview

Suffering is inevitable. Much of life in the West is set up to limit suffering or distract us from it. Not all of this is bad, but the mad scramble to avoid, ignore, or numb suffering can compound its effects.

Jesus made it clear to his followers that they would suffer. What’s more, following Jesus in a world that is broken by sin and rebellion creates added dimensions of suffering that are unique to followers of Jesus. Physical, emotional, or psychological suffering blurs into suffering that is spiritual in nature as well. 

But for followers of Jesus, this suffering isn’t just to be expected, it is one of the ways we follow Jesus, who was a suffering Messiah. We follow his pattern of suffering as we remain faithful to God through it all, allowing him to use our suffering to shape us and to bring good from bad, using it to subvert the evil of suffering itself. As followers of Jesus, suffering never has the final word on our lives.

Talk through the following discussion questions:

Talking about our own suffering can be a bit uncomfortable at times. And yet community plays a vital role in not only supporting one another through times of suffering, but the shared encouragement of seeing God work good out of the suffering that we have gone through. Discuss as a group the following questions:

  1. Is there a time of suffering from your own life where you’ve seen God work good out of the bad?
  2. In what ways are you typically drawn when attempting to avoid suffering through ignoring, numbing, or distracting?
  3. Are you struggling through a situation or season of suffering?

Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:

This week there are two options for this Practice.

Option 1: Take time this week to reflect on the suffering you’ve experienced in your life with the Holy Spirit. 

Find a quiet, distraction-free space and time to invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Using pen and paper or the Note app on your phone, write down times of suffering in your life as they come to mind. As they come up, notice how you respond to them. Are they still painful for you? Do they seem more settled, like a wound that has turned into a scar? Write down your response for each instance.

As these time(s) of suffering come to mind, think about them in terms of how God has drawn any good from them. If you’re not sure how he has, ask the Holy Spirit to show you a way in which God has or wants to use it for good. Write down for each situation of suffering what you think God is speaking to you.

Option 2: If Option 1 for this Practice seems particularly daunting or if you have painful suffering in your past that has gone unaddressed, take a concrete step to open those situations to the healing presence of the Spirit by setting up an appointment with a counselor (whether you have an established counselor or need to find one) or a time to talk with a pastor at Van City. 

To see our recommended list of counselors or to set up a time to talk with a pastor email vancity@vancity.church.

Talk through the following discussion questions:

  • Which option of the Practice will you choose to do?
  • How do you feel about doing this Practice? Is allowing God to speak into your suffering something you’ve done before, or will this be a new experience?

Close in prayer