Main Point: God’s trustworthiness doesn’t end just because we are suffering. In fact, God draws even closer to us when we’re hurting, if we turn to Him.
It was a normal game of kickball, by a normal group of kids, on a normal 4th of July. Even when the ball struck 9-year-old Jacob Holdaway in the head during the course of play, most labeled it a fairly normal occurrence for that particular game.
But what happened next was anything but normal.
Jacob’s parents didn’t make too much of the minor injury, after all, there wasn’t any blood or bruises. They just assumed the little guy simply had his bell rung. But within a few days, Jacob began to vomit and experience severe headaches. Thinking the symptoms were related to the kickball incident, his parents took him to a nearby hospital where doctors performed a CT scan. The results were life-changing.
The kickball hadn’t done any damage at all, said the doctors, but the test results showed a “golf ball-sized mass” inside the young boy’s brain.
Jacob underwent immediate surgery and the physicians were able to remove almost all of the mass; a small piece of the tumor was wrapped around a nerve and couldn’t be extracted. The surgeons believed the mass to be benign, but encouraged chemotherapy to prevent the fragment from causing any further problems.
Given all the medical scares and related costs and lost sleep, most people might assume the family would be bitter. But unlike so many other things about that fateful day, this family isn’t normal. They are devout and faithful Christians. Andy Hamilton, Jacob’s father, knows the truth. “Our faith in God, we think He had control of it all the way. And, you know, if he hadn’t got hit in the head with that, we wouldn’t have found out.”
That’s a great perspective to have in the face of trials.
That’s got to be scary. Without a doubt, there are people in this room who have gone through this kind of scare before, or at least know someone who has. But there’s a difference between how this family handled the accident and how most families handle the same bad news. This family turned to God, put their trust in Him, and relied on His power and answers, not their own. This family understood that God’s trustworthiness doesn’t end just because we are suffering. They knew that God draws even closer to us when we’re hurting, if we turn to Him. So that’s what they did. Let’s talk about that for a few moments so that you will be able to do the same if you ever face a situation like this.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and the last time we played kickball.
- ASK A FEW: In the news clip, the parents said they were “grateful” their son was hit in the head with the ball. Why was that?
- ASK A FEW: How did Jacob and his family deal with the injury and bad news?
- ASK A FEW: How do you think the family’s Christian faith played a role in their story?
- ASK A FEW: How would you have reacted to the same injury had it been you or a family member?
- ASK A FEW: Why is it easy to assume God has abandoned us when bad things happen to us?
- ASK A FEW: What does God want to have happen in the midst of our suffering? (Leaders – God wants us to seek Him in EVERY circumstance, good or bad, but He also wants to bring glory to Himself through our situations, good or bad.)
Read the following passage:
- Psalm 119:38-50 (NLT)
Reassure me of your promise, which is for those who honor you. 39 Help me abandon my shameful ways; your laws are all I want in life. 40 I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness. 41 LORD, give to me your unfailing love, the salvation that you promised me. 42 Then I will have an answer for those who taunt me, for I trust in your word. 43 Do not snatch your word of truth from me, for my only hope is in your laws. 44 I will keep on obeying your law forever and forever. 45 I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. 46 I will speak to kings about your decrees, and I will not be ashamed. 47 How I delight in your commands! How I love them! 48 I honor and love your commands. I meditate on your principles. 49 Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope. 50 Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.
- ASK A FEW: This Bible passage makes it sound as though God gives certain promises to those who honor Him. Is that true? Is that fair?
- ASK A FEW: What does the psalmist say he has put his trust in? (Hint: The answer is in verse 42.)
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think the psalmist, like Jacob’s family, turned to God when suffering came his way?
- ASK A FEW: In situations like Jacob faced, what are some of the first places we tend to put our trust instead of God? (Leaders – We place our trust in our doctors, in their technology, in our own health, etc. All of those are certainly good things, but our trust belongs in God alone.)
- ASK A FEW: Why do so many people think God no longer loves them when they are suffering?
- ASK A FEW: In verse 50, the psalmist writes, “Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.” Can someone explain how this works?
- ASK A FEW: Does your faith tend to increase or decrease when you face trials like Jacob did? Why?
- ASK A FEW: Does anyone have any passages of Scripture that you turn to in troubling times that helps you? If so, what are they?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: We can’t really predict trouble that will befall us, but what is one thing you will do differently when you face suffering the next time?
One of the easiest things to do in life is turn your back on God. It’s even easier when you’re suffering. But the example that was set before us in our time together was a powerful one. A little boy who was deeply hurting put his hope and trust in God. He wasn’t disappointed.
Sadly, for many of us who face trials that are FAR LESS scary than possible brain cancer, we tend to turn our backs on God when times get tough. We start believing that God doesn’t love us, that God is against us, that God has forgotten us. None of those things are true. They are all lies.
What we SHOULD do is turn to God’s Word for hope and comfort. What we find there is a God who loves us so much He pursues us, even more so when we’re hurting. God wants us to seek Him out at all times, but especially when we are in pain. He wants to reveal Himself to us in marvelous ways, but He won’t if we run from Him. He also wants to bring Himself glory through our trials and suffering, but He won’t if we put our trust elsewhere.
Chances are good that a few of us in here are facing some trials right now. What are your options? You could put your hope and trust in yourself. In others. In technology. In money. But all of those things will disappoint you eventually. The only one who can be trusted with our faith is God!
That said, you do not have to walk through this alone. Jacob had his family; you have us. As we close in prayer asking God to be with those of us who are hurting right now, if that’s you, plan on hanging back and talking with one of our leaders. We want to point you in the right direction. We want to point you to God.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.