There is much in our world that is hard right now. The uncertainty and social restrictions brought by COVID has resulted in more hardship in all our lives. However, when Christians talk about suffering, we tend to focus exclusively on the problem of evil. We try to answer the question, “If God is all good and all powerful, how can suffering still exist?” That’s an important question. But if Christians only focus on the problem of evil, we come across as God’s defense attorneys, rather than God’s ambassadors to those who are hurting.

The goal of this lesson is to serve as an introduction to biblical books that focus on suffering like Job, Lamentations, various psalms of lament, and I Peter. We want to set you up to read these books on suffering in a way that cultivates the responses of faith, hope, and trust. These are the responses God intended to cultivate in the original readers, and in you.

Here is the PDF transcript for this lesson – Navigating Suffering Well_COVID 2020

When studying this lesson as a small group, we recommended that: (a) each participant reads this article in advance, (b) the group watches the 30-minute lesson together, and then (c) the group discusses the following questions.

    1. What has been hard for you because of COVID and quarantine? How are you doing?
    2. How are you doing at being sad, anxious, or upset? Are you able to maintain perspective within these emotions, or do they lead to habits of escape or exaggerative thoughts?
    3. How have you been prone to “moralizing” your experience of suffering (i.e., feeling guilty for feeling bad during hard times)?
    4. What comfort do you take from there being a little heresy in the psalms? What is a healthy and unhealthy use of these passages?
    5. Which of the four strategies for suffering well (p. 2-3) would be most important for you implement at this time?
    6. How does the journey from Romans 8:25 to 8:28 allow you to embrace this passage and utilize it with greater sensitivity?
    7. How does seeing the pace of the Good Shepherd in Psalm 23 help you relax regarding how well, or how quickly, you are processing a difficult experience?

Follow-Up Resources

  • Making Peace with Romans 8:28 // This article delves into more common misconceptions regarding suffering. If you benefited from this presentation, this article would be a good next read.
  • Negative Emotion Tolerance in the Pursuit of Sexual Purity // While this blog post was written specifically towards sexual purity, it elaborates more fully on the concept “if we don’t know how to be sad, we will be bad” that was discussed in this presentation.