Main Point: There are several ways to look at tough situations in life. When believers look for God in those circumstances, they often find Him to be trustworthy…even in the midst of painful moments.
Discussion Starter: Hurricane Charley’s Devastation
Read this portion of an article taken from World Magazine following the natural disaster now known as Hurricane Charley. It was the first of several devastating hurricanes that ripped through Florida in 2004.
As members of the Gross family huddled amid mattresses in a narrow hallway, Hurricane Charley ripped their home from around them. The family listened and prayed as Charley screamed around the house like a buzz- saw unleashed, chewing up the pool cage, lanai (veranda or open-sided living room), and carport, then shearing off steel-bolted porch pillars, walls, and most of the roof, opening the interior to torrential rains.
After the storm screamed north, Ralph Gross and his daughter Sarah had emerged to survey the wreckage when four neighbors walked up. “See?” one neighbor spat, knowing the Grosses were Christians. “This is the God you have, who would allow this kind of pain and destruction.”
Sarah, 15, looked the man in the eye and said: “No, you’ve missed it: This is the God who delivered you.”
*WORLD Magazine, Aug. 28, 2004, “More Like a Bombing than a Hurricane,” by Lynn Vincent.
The two people in that conversation likely experienced the exact same thing: devastation, fear, pain, financial suffering, emotional distraught, and perhaps even minor injuries. But while one of them saw the terrible circumstance as an opportunity to bash God, another one saw an opportunity to praise Him for His goodness. Hopefully, you can be the kind of believer that looks at difficult times as an opportunity to find God being trustworthy.
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 CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and the worst weather we’ve ever experienced personally.
- ASK A FEW: Why are some people so quick to blame God when disaster strikes?
- ASK A FEW: Do you think they are right to do so? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think Sarah saw the situation differently than her neighbor?
- ASK A FEW: Who do you think was right, Sarah or the neighbor? Why?
- ASK A FEW: In that moment the hurricane thundered through Florida, what do you think God was doing?
Read the following passage:
2 Cor. 1:3-7 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Suffering is unavoidable. Loss occurs. Loved ones die. Friends move away. The question is: How do we cope during these tough times? Where is the hope in times of suffering?
Paul wrote the above verses to a group of people who chose to follow Jesus, and because of their commitment to Him, they were facing hard times. During these hard times, Paul encourages them with three promises of hope in times of suffering.
- 1. Triumph through endurance:
Paul tells us in verse 6 that one of the end results of suffering is endurance. Just like an athlete works out and lifts weights, suffering works out our spiritual muscles producing endurance. Then we are stronger as we approach future difficulties. We aren’t just supposed to accept suffering, we are supposed to triumph over it.
2. Comfort that we WILL be able to cope, because we’re not alone:
The Bible scholar Barkley says, “But we are not left to face this trial and to provide this endurance alone. There comes to us the comfort of God. Between verses 3 and 7 the noun comfort or the verb to comfort occurs no fewer than nine times. Comfort in the New Testament always means far more than soothing sympathy. Always it is true to its root meaning, for its root is the Latin fortis and fortis means brave. Christian comfort is the comfort which brings courage and enables a man to cope with all that life can do to him. Paul was quite sure that God never sends a man a vision without the power to work it out and never sends him a task without the strength to do it.”
3. Power to comfort others:
As we receive comfort from God and others, we can then pass that comfort to others.
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.