There’s probably not a person alive who hasn’t experienced difficult times in life. No one is immune to hardship. We are not protected from experiencing difficulty.
There are many examples of people who overcame difficulty. There are examples of people who didn’t. There are even examples of people who endure persistent hardship. And there are examples of people who endure one hardship after another.
Regardless of the situation, you can believe that there are good things that come out of difficulty. That is probably a hard idea to accept. In fact, it’s probably hardest to accept when your in the middle of a difficult situation.
Let’s examine different ways that God works when we must endure hardship.
Ephesians 6:12 (Our battle is not with flesh and blood (living humanity))
John 10:10 (satan destroys life; Jesus provides abundant life)
1 Kings 17:8-16 (Tough times for a lady and her son)
Hebrews 12:11 (reaching the point of blessing)
Matthew 6:25-27 (compare God’s provision for birds to His love for you)
2 Timothy 2:1-7 (Remain strong, hard work is necessary to reap reward)
Acts 14:21-22 (Faith requires hardship. Really?)
1 John 5:4-5 (The ultimate reward for a Christian that endures hardship)
Material Needed: Two large buckets filled with sand. 2 markers or plastic cones.
Form two lines with equal number of people in each. Set a cone a few feet away in front of each line.
Starting from the front person in the line, a single person carries the bucket to the cone and returns to the new first person in line handing off the bucket.
Repeat until every person has carried or attempted to carry the bucket
Once each person has carried the bucket, discuss the characteristics of the struggle each had while carrying the heavy bucket.
Use same two lines. Repeat the task, but this time TWO people carry the heavy bucket.
Once everyone has shared the task with TWO people, discuss the difference in the struggle during the second round as compared to the first.
INTERPRETATION: What does God’s Word mean?
1. According to the scriptures, who do we truly battle day in and day out?
2. What seems to be the purpose of those we battle against?
3. What lesson can we learn about hardship from Elijah’s encounter with the widow?
4. What is chastening? How do you feel when you are chastened? What does Hebrews say about the results of chastening? Have you experienced the “peaceable fruit” of your chastening? What did you learn from chastening you experienced? If you did not experience the “peaceable” fruit, consider why you did not: Perhaps the chastening isn’t over? Perhaps you haven’t finished learning, yet?
5. What evidence do we observe that verifies the words of Matthew 6:26 regarding the birds? How would you answer the question posed in Matthew 6:26? What principle does this verse teach us about dealing with hardship?
6. What principle can we learn from 2 Timothy 2:1-7 in the context of life challenges?
7. What do we learn from Acts 24:21-22 about the work of sharing our faith in Jesus Christ? Does serving as a Christian promise an easy life?
8. Make a list of the pros and cons of enduring hardship according to the Bible. Which part of the list has the greater value in the long term?
9. Now consider the reason for Christ’s suffering. What was the purpose of His hardship?
APPLICATION: How do I apply God’s Word to my life?
No one is immune from hardship. Sometimes it causes us to question God and become angry that a loving God would make us endure difficulty. We know that it seems God even looked away from His only Son (Matthew 27:45-46). On the surface that seems rather cruel, but the purpose of that suffering goes much deeper than many of us can comprehend. The purpose of your suffering may go much deeper than you can comprehend at the time. We are surrounded by suffering and tragedy. Consider carefully how hardship can often turn to blessing and move forward with a faith that helps you overcome.
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