Be sure to encourage your group to check out Daily Steps, Cornerstone's companion devotional guide — a resource to help spend one-on-one time with God throughout the week using daily readings from the Psalms.
Check out our sermon series resource page for additional information. If you need help with conducting your group meetings online, take a look at this guide.
In this section, your group will spend time catching up since your last meeting together.
This week, Steve Ingold led us through Psalm 77 and explained how the pain and suffering we endure in this life will be eventually transformed into glory. As you work through the questions this week, encourage your group to contemplate how hardships and difficulties can be used by God to help us grow in our faith and bring comfort to others who are suffering.
- When you were a kid, what was one lesson you had to learn the hard way?
- Why do you think that specific lesson stands out in your memory?
- Was it a lesson that you had to repeat again later on? Why or why not?
- What or who brought you the greatest comfort or encouragement in the process of learning that lesson?
In this section, your group will dive into the themes and Scripture passages from this week’s sermon, and learn more about their meanings and relevance for us today.
In the sermon, Steve said that the question he is hearing the most from people right now is, “Where is God in this pandemic?” Some people ask because they are suffering from physical, emotional, or financial hardship. Others of us are merely inconvenienced, but feeling guilty or frustrated. Regardless of the impact on our lives, the age-old question of fairness rises to the top. Let’s take a look at how the Psalmist asked the question.
Read Psalm 77:1-9 together. You may want to read it several times, using at least one literal translation of the Bible (i.e. ESV, NIV) and one paraphrase (i.e. The Message, NLT).
As you read the first part of this Psalm, how does it sound similar to what you are thinking right now or what you’ve heard people saying?
How have you seen suffering or hardship push people to God? How have you seen it bring people closer to God or at least cause them to consider Him? What do you think is happening in their hearts and minds to push them one way or another?
How does reading such a raw and honest dialogue from the Psalmist surprise you? Comfort you?
Steve said, “The myth that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to sinners, is something that if you cling to it, your faith will eventually fall apart.” Read Romans 5:12 and 8:22 together, along with John 9:1-3.
How do these passages help us to understand why suffering happens in this world? Does it strengthen your faith? Why or why not?
What questions do you wrestle with the most about the link between sin and suffering? In what ways can sin be completely unrelated to suffering and pain?
Read John 16:33, and Romans 5:17. Steve said in the sermon, “Christians believe that the worst thing that could happen to a person, happened to the best person — Jesus. And as a result of His suffering through life and through death on a cross, He can empathize with us and is present with us in our suffering. God takes our pain and suffering so seriously that He was willing to take it on Himself.”
Jesus declared that we will have troubles, but He has overcome the world. How have you felt the presence of Jesus in the midst of your pain or hardships?
When do you feel closer to Jesus... Is it when things are going great or when things get hard? Why do you think that is?
Steve quoted author CS Lewis, who said that God shouts to us during times of pain. What do you think it is about suffering that prepares our hearts to hear God more clearly? How have you experienced that in the past?
Now, let’s read the last half of Psalm 77 (verses 10-20). You might notice that the word “Selah” appears just before verse 10 (in most translations). This word comes from the Greek word “to lift up, exalt” and was used as a musical notation to indicate either a brief moment of silence or an instrumental interlude. Using it after verse 9 is especially effective because —as Steve pointed out in the sermon — the Psalmist undergoes a major shift in perspective between verses 9 and 10. He pivots from passive lament into action by doing something powerful.
What action does the Psalmist take to alleviate his mental anguish in the second half of this Psalm?
How can pausing and waiting in silence before God help us to shift perspective? In what ways could you take this approach in your prayer time?
Why do you think by recalling the amazing things God has done and remembering His faithfulness helps the Psalmist rejoice?
Have you ever tried spiritual journaling or writing down all the great things God has done for you in the past? What about keeping a record of answered prayers and praises? If so, in what ways has it helped you grow?
In this section, your group will discuss how to apply what you’ve learned from the Scripture passages to real life.
During Steve’s message, we had the chance to hear real-world examples of God transforming pain into greater glory. As Steve’s parents shared their stories, we saw the power of Romans 8:28 come to life which says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
What are some ways that God might be prompting you to shift your perspective this coming week?
What are some practical things you’ve tried during this season of sheltering-in-place, that have helped to ease your frustrations and bring you comfort? What’s worked the best? How have you found that God can use even “non-spiritual” activities, such as hobbies or exercise, to help you?
Steve quoted a former POW, James Stockdale, as saying, "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Sometimes, to avoid dealing with something difficult, we fall into denial. In what ways have you learned how to acknowledge difficult issues while never losing hope? Is there anything you might need to ask God to help you with this week?
Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.
How does our ability to comfort others bring God glory? How has He used you as an instrument of comfort in the past?
Is there anyone God is prompting you to reach out to who might find comfort or strength from your previous struggles?
Share a verse or prayer with the group that has helped you in seasons of difficulty in the past.
Additional resources and help are available. If you need prayer or are looking to connect with a pastor or a lay counselor, we encourage you to reach out to our Care Ministry. You may also be interested in these two helpful books written by Philip Yancey. Where Is God When It Hurts and Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud.
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to Jesus each day and explore the Psalms.
Have you checked out Daily Steps?
Daily Steps is a weekly devotional message designed as a companion to this sermon study guide. You will be guided as you spend time with God through personal reflection, Scripture readings, and prayer prompts.
DAILY STEPS - PSALMS - WEEK 6
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