Our hope comes in Jesus, even when He doesn’t do what we want Him to do. Even when He doesn’t fix what’s broken in our life… When Jesus is with us, He’s our anchor in the rough waters of a troubled life. If we want to survive the storm we need to cling to Him like the salvation He is. — Laura Story
There is a popular expression that says, “Into each life some rain must fall.” We all encounter stormy times in our lives. Sometimes this takes the form of just a gentle rain, but at other times it is an intense down-pour with hurricane-force winds. When these times come, it is difficult for us not to be taken back and ask, God, why did this happen?
Perhaps what we need to do is adopt the mindset of a young boy named Daniel. Daniel grew up in a tough neighborhood. He had friends whose houses were robbed, and he knew that if he left his bike out front at night, there was a good chance it would be gone in the morning. He knew better than to walk around his block alone after dark. He was on his toes when he saw strangers and was ready to run home as fast as he could if he sensed trouble.
Would you say that Daniel was paranoid or prepared?
The truth is, Daniel sees the world he lives in the way it really is. He has learned that he should be prepared, careful, and aware of his surroundings. Daniel has his eyes open to the fact that this world can be a dangerous place and the neighborhood where he lives has very specific hazards. His preparedness actually makes his neighborhood a safer place for him.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. — 1 Peter 4:12–13
If Daniel did not recognize the risks around him, or if he decided to ignore them, he would be in greater danger. But by honestly looking at the threats in the environment where he lives, he can make decisions and take actions that help him make it through each day. As believers in Christ, we need to do the same. We need to take to heart Jesus’ words when He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” But we must also remember the rest of that verse: “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Talk About It
Welcome to the first session of When God Doesn’t Fix It. If you or any of your fellow group members do not know one another, take some time to introduce yourselves. Next, to get things started, discuss one of the following questions:
What are some beliefs you held as a child that turned out not to be true? How do the misconceptions we hold as children often shape our lives?
How can the recognition that this life will have loss, pain, and trouble prepare us to face these challenging times? What are some of the consequences if we deny or ignore the reality of pain in this life?
Video Teaching Notes
As you watch the video teaching segment for session one, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.
Trouble finds its way into our lives
When hard truth comes crashing in
A new understanding of the biblical story
The good news of the gospel:
The reality and cost of sin
The gift of grace (God’s love revealed through Jesus)
The glory of eternal life
Man chose to disobey God and the result was a marring of creation that could only be rectified by the sacrifice of a loving Savior.
The cost of following Jesus
Standing on the solid rock
Bible Study and Video Discussion
Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture.
- Many people grow up believing or being taught that God promises to give us a good, safe, pain-free life if we do our best to follow and honor Him. What were you taught or led to believe about how God will treat you if you seek to live a good life for Him? Where do you think this teaching came from?
The older I get, the more I learn that the pursuit of truth is a lifelong endeavor.
- In the story of Daniel, we read how God closed the mouths of lions and allowed him to walk out of the den unscratched. In the story of David, we see how the giant Goliath fell defeated at his feet. What is the danger of simplifying Bible stories like these into lessons that give the impression that people of faith always end up on top and win the earthly battles they face? What are other Bible stories that are often used in a way that sends this message to children and adults?
The truth is that few characters in the Bible were so good that their behavior warranted God’s unquestioning blessing.
- Who are some characters in the Bible who had both good and bad qualities? How does the presence of so many biblical characters with a mix of good and bad affirm that God’s blessings in our life are not based on our “good behavior”?
Our hope isn’t found in being good so God will be good to us. Our hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ, His overwhelming love for us, and His ability to sustain us no matter what this life brings.
- Read Romans 6:19–23. What do you learn in this passage about the battle between sin and righteousness? According to Paul, what are the consequences of sin? How do you see this reality in our world today?
- What are the results of becoming a “slave” to God? What benefits do we gain from living a life of holiness?
- Read Romans 5:12. Why is it absolutely essential that we understand the bad news of sin if we are going to fully understand the good news of the gospel and the hope we have in Jesus? If someone looked at you and said, “I don’t think sin is really a big deal,” what would you say to help him or her understand the extent and cost of sin?
- Read Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:8–9, and Romans 8:1–4. How is salvation a gift to be received and not a payment to be earned? What is the danger of believing that our actions and “goodness” are the reason for our salvation?
Despite what culture tells us, Scripture states clearly that the way to know eternal life is through the person of Jesus Christ.
- How does a relationship with Jesus and the hope of eternal life help you stand strong during the storms you face in this life? What is a tough time you recently walked through? How has your relationship with Jesus enabled you to stand strong and endure?
- Read 2 Corinthians 4:16–18. What does the apostle Paul mean when he says, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”? How can we keep our eyes and focus on what is unseen and eternal as we walk through the hard times of this life?
For the disciples, following Jesus didn’t lead to better homes or better jobs or more comfortable lives. It led the majority of these men to their deaths, but not before experiencing the kind of life worth dying for.
- Read 2 Corinthians 11:16–33. What are some of the struggles, pains, and losses the apostle Paul faced as he lived for Jesus? How could he be so optimistic and joy-filled in light of all he suffered?
- How can your group members pray for you and support you as you walk through a painful time or as you support someone you love who is going through a difficult time?
- In our search for truth, is it possible that God, in his sovereignty, might allow the things in life that appear to be sturdy to lose their sturdiness, in order to show us that Jesus truly is the only sturdy thing in this life?
Use the prompts below to guide your group in a time of prayer together:
Thank God for those people who taught you the Bible and instructed you in the truth of God’s Word.
Praise God for the times He has delivered you from the lions’ den and given you power to overcome giants — and also praise Him for the power He gives to stand in faith even when the battles you face don’t have a happy ending.
Celebrate the amazing and undeserved gift of grace revealed in the death of Jesus for your sins.
Ask God to teach you to walk in joy even during the storms of life.
Pray for group members to cling to Jesus with deep faith for as long as they walk through the valley of pain and loss… even if it takes a lifetime.
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Join the conversation on our blog. We’d love to hear your thoughts about the challenges and troubles in this life and the One we can always rely upon!