Community Group Leader Guide
For the week of February 6. 2022
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discuss
Begin to plan your social. There will be opportunities later in our semester to do a church wide service project. Go to stfchurch.com/events to learn more!
EGR Podcast is available!
Submit your group’s attendance online through the email sent to you the night of your group!
Are you a glass half empty or glass half full type of person?
The responses people have when they face challenges, uncertainty and suffering can vary greatly. What are some ways you’ve noticed the people around you responding to difficult circumstances?
- What are some ways you’ve responded to difficult circumstances?
- If you were honest, what would be some ways you’re tempted to respond to suffering?
- Was there ever a point in your Christian life when you thought following Christ meant you got a free pass from having to suffer?
Do you think people’s responses differ if what they are going through is self-inflicted suffering as opposed to suffering that is outside of their control? If so, how?
Looking back at your notes from this week’s teaching, was there anything you heard for the first time or something that caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Christian author C. S. Lewis reflects what we heard this weekend about suffering when he wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” How have you seen the truth of this quote reflected in your experience?
How might the following passages help us understand the role of suffering in our lives and the attitude God wants us to have toward our suffering?
James 1:2-4 New International Version (NIV) 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Hebrews 5:7-8 New International Version (NIV) 7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.
1 Peter 1:6-7 New International Version (NIV) 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Based on the above passages, what is most challenging for you to accept about hardship?
Is there someone in your life who has gone through great difficulty and lived out the truths taught in these passages regarding suffering?
- What stood out the most about their lives?
- Why do you think they were able to view suffering the way they did?
- What was the outcome in their lives for having this kind of attitude toward suffering?
Why do you think some people can go through hardship and come out better, while some go through it and come out bitter? There is the classic illustration of the difference between an egg and a potato when you cook it in hot water. The egg becomes hard; the potato become soft. God’s plan is to use hot water to soften us.
- Can you think of a time when you went through suffering and came out better? Or bitter?
- Summarizing all that we’ve just talked about, what do you think it takes for someone to be able to look at suffering as being beneficial?
The Book of Psalms has a lot to say about our response to suffering. In fact, over half of the 150 Psalms are classified as “lament” psalms because they express concern or sorrow over a difficult situation the author is facing. Each lament psalm has at least three similar elements – description of the present need or situation, a call for help and a commitment to praise God despite the circumstance. Read Psalm 86 and identify each of these elements in the space offered below.
Psalm 86 New International Version (NIV)
1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;
3 have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me— they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Description of a present need (How is this situation affecting you or others?)
Example: I’m not sure how we are going to pay all of our bills.
Call for help (What would you like God to do for you or others?)
Example: God, provide somehow for our family; provide more work for me. Or, give me more patience with my kids when they get on my nerves.
Commitment to praise (What is true about God that you can praise Him for?)
Example: Despite my concern about our finances, I will still praise you God for caring about us and always providing in the past. Or, God, I praise you for the family you’ve blessed me with and this increased opportunity I have to love and influence them.
Reflection on who God is (What aspects of God’s character are most important to you in the midst of this?)
Example: You own the cattle on a thousand hills, and you take care of the birds and lilies, so you’ll take care of us (Luke 12:22-31). Or, You are a God of patience, and your Holy Spirit came to give me self-control.
Now use those thoughts to express your own lament prayer to God.
Facilitation Tip: You could come back to this idea when you begin your prayer time. Ask a few people to put their thoughts about each of the elements into a prayer.
How free do you feel bringing your “laments” to God?
Additional Question: What can we learn about expressing our honest emotions to God from Psalm 13?
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
What is most challenging for you to praise and thank God for in the midst of a difficult season in life?
This question could be used during your prayer time to let people know how to pray for one another.
TAKING IT HOME
Psalm 23 has been a source of comfort and hope for many going through difficult times. Take a few moments to meditate on the points of hope in this psalm that could be of help in the midst of our current situation.
Facilitation Tip: Have someone read this psalm as the whole group listens. It’s short enough that you could have a few people read it in different translations. You can then ask people what stands out to them in this psalm.
Option: Here’s a link to a 4-minute video of a pastor in Israel explaining what sheep lying down in green pastures looks like. The first 30 seconds is mostly just an intro that you can skip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIrS3h7cH_A
A psalm of David. New Living Translation
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
God is not finished with us yet! In the verses below, what catches your attention about the hope we have that God is working in our lives no matter what the circumstance and how can the group pray for you this week as a result?
John 10:10 New International Version (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Ephesians 3:14-21 New International Version (NIV)
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.