Romans 5:1-5 | Isaiah 53:3-5
What are you going to do with all that disappointment, embarrassment, and pain?
Isn’t it easy to rejoice when things are going your way? Of course it is!
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.Romans 5:1-2 NLT
“Undeserved privilege.” That sounds great. Talk about things going your way…you’re getting privileges that are, in fact, too good for you. Wow!
But what about when things turn south? Expectations are missed. Plans fail. Fears become realities. Can you still celebrate?
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.Romans 5:3-4 NLT
You can be joyful when things get tough because hard times increase your spiritual stamina, and ultimately create stronger faith. Bottom line? Life as a follower of Jesus is a Can’t Lose scenario. Things are going well? You win. Things get tough? Guess what…you still win.
Best of all, your hope is built on the firm foundation of God’s unchanging Love.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.Romans 5:5 NLT
Furthermore, our Leader is not asking us to endure anything that he has not faced himself. Jesus was intimately familiar with hard times.
He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.Isaiah 53:3a NLT
And with Jesus, it was ‘undeserved grief’ that he knew.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.Isaiah 53:4b-5 NLT
Now connect these dots: Jesus put up with undeserved grief so that we could enjoy undeserved privilege. He did it for you. You are that valuable to him.
When things in your life start spiraling downward and it seems like they are circling the drain, remember that God has that kind of love for you…AND that he knows how it feels to face crushing troubles.
Then when you come across someone struggling under their own set of crushing circumstances, maybe you can know how they feel…and share your hope with them.
Questions for Group Discussion
- Can you develop endurance without faith? How does trusting that God loves you build spiritual perseverance?
- Have you had a difficult experience that you grew from? What are some ways you grew? Do you now have extra compassion for other people facing similar circumstances?
- Do you think that God gives us painful circumstances to cultivate endurance and empathy in us? Or does God just ‘allow those things to happen’ in order for us to grow? Does it matter which is the case?
Application: Show the Grow
Sometimes, you can’t see the forest for the trees. In other words, when you are too close to something, you miss some obvious features of the situation.
It is easy to look back at your own experiences, but it can be difficult to gain insight from them because of your limited perspective. Often a third party can see things you cannot because their separation from the experience gives them an objective viewpoint.
To gain this objective viewpoint, interview someone who has faced something especially difficult and has effectively overcome it. A family member or family friend is best, and they need to be willing to discuss the subject and answer your questions. This means that the hardship will have taken place well in the past, and that they have sufficiently grieved and successfully dealt with the resulting pain.
- Be an asker, not a teller. Fight the urge to tell your own stories–no matter how similar–or offer any advice. Your goal is to learn from their experiences; focus on that.
- Remember that the subject may still be painful…so be tactful, respectful, and sensitive to their feelings as you proceed.
- Record the interview. (With permission, of course.) Don’t be silly–you can’t remember everything. An audio recorder is best, but a pencil and paper also work.
- Write down your observations and insights. This is the point of the whole exercise, so don’t neglect to do it. Doing it well may require that you wait for a few days, then review your recording or notes from the interview.
- Be sure to thank your interviewee before and after the interview.
Below are some questions to ask your interviewee AFTER you have gotten the main points and important details of their story sorted out in your mind.
- How do you think you have been able to recover from what happened?
- How has this experience changed you?
- Has this experience changed the way you think or feel about God? (If so, how?)
- What would you say to someone else dealing with a similar situation as what you experienced?
- If you could change things so that you never had to face this hardship, would you?