The BIG IDEA:
God desires for us to have peace in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. He wants us to trust him rather than ourselves.
We can often be overwhelmed with life. Instead of experiencing peace, we are full of fear, worry, and sometimes hopelessness. This can be caused by setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves or filling our lives with activities that only leave us exhausted or stressed rather than giving us joy. Other causes may be major stressors like the death of a loved one, parents divorcing, moving away from friends, etc. We may begin to feel out of control. Overall, our focus is on ourselves, worry and fear rather than on God’s ability to manage our life.
As we explore our anxiety, we hope to determine if it is the result of trusting in our own efforts rather than in God’s control, or to what extent it might be due to a physical/medical concern. As we give God control of our worries, we can embrace the peace he wants to give to us. If we need additional medical care or professional counsel, we can start trusting God for the right counsel/medical care.
We can all relate to this guy, sitting alone worrying about something. Worry and anxiety steal our peace and hold us hostage to fear. When we worry alone like this and don’t let God or others into our anxiety, that fear can grow out of control.
- What I want the group to know and understand: We are not alone because God is always with us in the process and pain. God wants us to turn to him for peace that is beyond understanding, and He is big enough to manage our lives.
- What I want the group to experience: Comfort that we are not alone because God is with us, security that God has our lives in his control, and peace in the midst of difficulty.
- How I want the group to respond: By recognizing the parts of our lives that we are trying to control, giving God control of our worries and fears, and recognizing that he is always with us, even if he does not remove difficult circumstances from our lives.
The SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
God doesn’t promise a life without challenges. However, he does promise that he will always be with us. He has the ability to take our load of worries on himself and give us peace and certainty that he will take care of our concerns.
Bring a bag of smooth stones and several permanent markers. Give each student two or three stones. Ask each student to write something they often worry about on each stone. Tell them that these are small reminders of the larger boulders of worry that each of them carry each day. If your pockets were filled with stones like these, representing your worries, how would their presence affect your day? The weight would make it hard to walk, do sports, sit down in class or for lunch. If there were too many to fit in your pockets, you might put them in your backpack. How would this affect your day? It would hurt your back, be too heavy to carry, you would want to get rid of it or ask for help. Imagine Jesus saying to you, “I will carry your backpack. Whatever concerns you have, I’ve got this. Will you hand me your backpack?” How would you feel if Jesus made this offer?
What are three things you worry about? How does worrying affect your life? Imagine life without worries or anxiety. What would it look like? If you could be freed from your worries, would you accept that freedom? Why or why not?
1. Read Matthew 6:25-34. According to this passage, what are some reasons we can experience anxiety?
Allow the group to discuss.Worries about life, what we’ll eat, wear, wondering if God will provide or what will happen tomorrow.
2. How does Jesus describe our worth in verse 26?
We are far more important than the birds, flowers, or grass, yet he fully takes care of them.
3. How does this passage describe God?
Allow the group to discuss. God is the provider for nature and for us. He is in control and big enough to provide for our needs. He has all the resources needed to care for us. He is kind and values us as verse 26 shows us.
4. What does verse 33 mean by “seek first his kingdom and righteousness?”
Allow the group to discuss. It means we need to be more concerned about what benefits God’s plan than our own plan. We need to always be asking, “How is this helpful to God?”
5. If we are more concerned about God’s plan rather than our own plans, what will be given to us according to verse 33?
Allow the group to discuss. God will provide all that we need: food, clothes, etc.
God allows us to experience challenges in life. He doesn’t always remove challenges, even when we trust him with our lives. How we react to these challenges determines whether we have peace or worry.
6. What were some of the worries you thought of at the beginning of our time?
Allow the group to discuss. Encourage students who didn’t previously share to share at this time if they’re willing.
7. What are some of the reasons you have these worries?
Allow the group to discuss. Students may answer things like, “I worry about money because my parents don’t have good jobs;” or “I worry about grades because if I don’t get good grades, I can’t go to college or get a good job.”
8. Matthew 6:26 says we’re worth much more than the birds of the air. Read Romans 8:32. What does this verse say about our worth and God’s power to handle anything we’re worried about?
Allow the group to discuss. We’re worth so much that God was willing for his Son to die for us. If he was willing to sacrifice his Son for us to deal with our greatest problem in life (our need for forgiveness before a holy God), we can surely trust his power to handle any other problem or challenge we’re facing.
9. When we realize our great worth in God’s eyes and his power to handle any problem we face, how can this turn our worry into peace?
Allow the group to discuss. If we know that God already handled our greatest problem through Jesus’ death on the cross for us, we can have confidence in his ability to handle our lesser problems and challenges. When we let that truth sink into our hearts, it replaces our worry with God’s supernatural peace.
10. Close in prayer by asking the members of your group to think back to the thing they said they worry about. Invite them to offer short prayers along the following lines: “Lord, thank you that because you sent Jesus to die for my sins and have promised to meet my needs, I don’t need to worry about __________.”
Lead your group in this prayer time by offering the first prayer as an example for your group. Invite others to pray as they feel comfortable, letting them know that they don’t have to pray if they don’t want to.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
- God is…series (This will help reiterate God’s character and ability to take care of our worries.)
- The Me Series (This will help remind you of how God views you.)
- http://www.everystudent.com/features/finding.html Article on Peace of Mind in an Unstable World
- https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/life-and-relationships/emotions/depression-anxiety-all-in-your-head.html Article on Depression and Anxiety
Free MP3 Download:
http://www.gospelinlife.com/peace-8617 Sermon on Peace-Overcoming Anxiety.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.