The BIG IDEA
God allows hard things into our lives as a way to point us to his Son.
Hard times and evil in the world can cause us to question God’s love for us.
Trust in God in the midst of hard circumstances and believe he can use these things to build our faith.
Why THIS MATTERS
Hard times and evil in our world can cause us to question God and his love for us. We can lay a foundation for trusting him by understanding his loving character and that he rules over all our circumstances.
I WANT MY STUDENTS TO:
- KNOW: We live in a world filled with evil and hard things, but God uses these things for his purposes and to bring us closer to him.
- EXPERIENCE: Comfort and hope that God loves and cares for us in the midst of evil and hard things, and a belief that he can bring good even out of the worst circumstances.
- DO: Ask God for the ability to trust that he is good and in control of all things.
The idea box is a place where you can find some creative ideas for leading this study. You might find videos, activities, or great illustrations that really bring the main point home. The ideas come from small group leaders like you, so if you have an idea that isn’t in there, click below to share it with the community!
*WHAT DO YOU THINK?
As I was coming home, I started smelling smoke. When I turned the corner, I saw firetrucks and firefighters everywhere. Our apartment was gone. I found my mom in the parking lot. She was okay, but everything we had was gone. Some guy in the apartment below us had accidentally left his iron on and it burned down three other apartments, including ours. THIS IS SO UNFAIR! We are good people and we were just barely getting by as it is.
- God, why did this happen?
- If this happened to your friend, what would you tell her?
We are going to look at a similar situation found in the Bible in the book of John and find out what Jesus says about these things.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?
*This is one of the most difficult questions about God, and many strong Christians still wrestle with it. This discussion might not answer all of your questions but hopefully it will shed a little bit of light into this very difficult topic.
*1. What do you think Jesus is trying to accomplish in his relationship with the blind man?
He is showing his love, compassion and power to the blind man and his family. He is also using the situation to teach the disciples, the neighbors and the Pharisees.
*2. Read John 9:6, 7 and 11. How does God bring good out of this man’s blindness?
Many people meet and observe Jesus during this time and have an opportunity to know him. Also, God’s care for us and his power to heal are brought out in this passage.
*3. How did God use this man’s blindness to point him to Jesus?
Allow the group to discuss. If the man had not been blind, he may not have recognized his need for Jesus. Hard things in our lives can sometimes help us recognize our need for someone greater.
4. What are some things we know to be true about God?
- How can knowing these things affect our reaction when something bad happens?
For example, we know he is a righteous God and we know he is a God of love. Passages to look at include Psalm 11:7 and Romans 5:8. When something bad happens to us and we are secure in knowing God loves us and is completely righteous in his actions, we can more easily trust him and not constantly worry about the outcome. A definition of righteous is “full of virtue, without fault, upright.”
*There are a few more things to mention as we wrestle with why bad things happen:
Many bad things happen because people are sinful and do sinful things. Violence, theft, abandonment, selfishness, and mass murder all cause webs of pain that go far beyond the moment of the sin. God has given us free will to love or to sin. When people choose to sin, people get hurt. God could stop the consequences by taking away our free will and making us robots, but he values our free will too much to do that.
5. What are some ways you see people’s sin affecting you and those around you?
Allow the group to discuss. Your group may talk in generalities and treat this like an academic lesson, or they may allow themselves to be vulnerable and talk about real pain in their own lives. If they are willing to get real like that, encourage it. We want to help them wrestle with their pain and questions here.
*WE LIVE IN A FALLEN WORLD
When Adam and Eve chose to sin against God in the garden, the whole world was affected. Weeds began growing and making it harder to produce food; animals became dangerous to humans; humans’ bodies began wearing down, becoming diseased, and dying; storms became deadly; the world was no longer a safe and comfortable place for humans. This was not God’s original plan for the world—it was because of a choice that Adam and Eve made and it is still impacting us today. Today we see storms wipe out whole towns, family members die of disease, and many wrestle with life challenges like poverty or illness because we live in a fallen world.
6. What are some ways you see this fallen condition in recent world events or in your personal life?
Allow the group to discuss. Bring up world events like storms that have killed a lot of people, or the recent death of a family member or loved one. Let them talk ,and listen sensitively. We want to provide an atmosphere where they can talk about their pain and questions without judgement. If they are hurting, they have every right to feel that way. Continue to point them to truth, but our answers won’t necessarily take away their pain. Try to be comfortable just agreeing that their pain is valid.
*GOD CHOOSES LOVE
God doesn’t like it when people suffer, but he values love above all. He could remove all evil by taking away any human choice, but if he did that, he would also be taking away the choice to love. To God, love is just too valuable to take away from us.
7. Would you rather live in a world where bad things happen, but there is love, or a world where nothing bad happens, but where love does not exist?
Allow the group to discuss. Let them come to whatever conclusion they come to. It is a tough choice. In the end, though, God chose love. If they are feeling like God should have made it both where no bad things happen but there is also love, ask them how that could happen if God gives us free will to make our own choices. Don’t push too hard on it, just pose the question.
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?
*8. Keeping these things in mind, how might you react if you were the girl in our story at the beginning of this lesson?
Allow discussion and encourage different responses. Refer to the two passages above for a biblical view of God’s character. They are Psalm 11:7 and Romans 5:8.
9. Have you had anything happen to you that caused great sadness or hurt?
- Did it pull you farther away from God or draw you closer to God?
Allow discussion and share your own tough time to get things started. Be sensitive to the fact that for many people, hard things will push them away from God. Don’t make them feel bad about that but, instead, be sympathetic to them. Encourage your students to tell more about their story if you think they would be open to it.
*10. Sometimes when people go through hard times, they become more interested in God. How can you love them well and help point people to Christ in the midst of their hard times?
Allow the group to discuss. The most important thing is to love them, and support them with what they are going through. Listening well is a huge gift that you can give people you care about. As you love them well, they will also be more open to what you have to say about what can help them. Ask if you can pray for them, and do so with them if they are willing. Share encouraging verses from the Bible, if they are open to hear them. Tell them, “One thing that has really helped me get through some of the hardest things in my life has been my relationship with God. Can I tell you more about that?” Share your story of how you came to know Jesus with them and how he has helped you in your hard times. Then, whether they want to talk more about God or not, continue to love them well. Your love in the midst of their hard time will make a lasting impact.
Our review cards are an excellent way to review your past lessons with your students before each study. Not every lesson has one yet but if we have them, you can find them on the PRINT page. Check them out and use them each week to help your students grab hold of the truths in these studies.
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.