Big Idea: We can take great joy in suffering, knowing that God has and will redeem our pain. We also take joy in suffering through a radical reorientation of our value system that shifts from the world’s temporal focus to God’s eternal perspective. This transformation opens up opportunities to experience resilient joy fueled by a rich theology of suffering.
- Take joy in suffering.
- Take joy in what suffering produces. Love the product enough to find joy in the process.
- Take joy that God will redeem your suffering. (Hebrews 10:34; 12:1-2; Philippians 2:17-18)
- Take the long view on grief. (II Corinthians 7:4-11)
- Begin with the end in mind.
- Some things will burn and others will last forever. (I Corinthians 3)
- Allow the Gospel to radically reorient your life. This can and should lead to a complete revaluation of all aspects of life.
- I Peter 1:6-7
- Hebrews 10:34
- Philippians 3:8-11
- What will matter in the end? Live that way now. Consider Jesus’ words from the cross.
- Forgiveness – “Father forgive them.”
- Family – “John, here is your mother.”
- Getting right with God – “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
- Finishing the work God has given you to do – “It is finished.”
- How do you decide if something was “worth it”? What does it mean to be “worth it”? Is this a simple cost-benefit analysis? Have you ever gone through something really difficult that you felt was worth it? How did you come to the conclusion that it was?
- How soon should we expect to see what will come of our actions? How long should one wait to know what will come of things? What is the danger in not waiting long enough? What is the danger of waiting too long? How do you rest in the balance between the extremes?
- Is grief good or bad? How do you decide that? Can some grief be good and another kind be bad? Have you ever been shamed for grieving? Have you ever been shamed for not grieving or for not grieving long enough?
Where do we get our expectations about how long our emotions should last?
- If you had to estimate, how much of your time and effort goes into things that will not last? How much goes into things that will last forever? What is the right balance between enjoying the blessing of creation now and waiting for the joy of all that God has stored up for us? What happens if Christians focus too much on future realities? What happens if we focus too much on present realities?
- Do you ever think about how short life is? What do you do to face the brevity of life? Or does that seem like a distant reality to you?
- Why did Jesus say the things he did from the cross? Of all things he could have said, why those things?
- How do you feel about the four categories of family, forgiveness, getting things right with God and finishing your work? Do these seem like good things for focus on in living a full life now?
How would you rate your readiness in these areas? What would you like to do in these areas to get ready?