Sunday, February 10, 2013

Theme Night: Why Bad Things Happen

Sorry I'm a few days late on this one, folks. It's been a crazy and somewhat painful week, as you'll read in the message at the bottom. I don't generally provide a message, but this was really heavy on my heart, and I feel God calling me to share it with as many people as possible, as a means for Him to share His Gospel. Anyway, please personalize the message to what's relevant in your group, but as usual, you are always free to use anything from my posts as a source!

God's blessings,

Law: Sickness, pain, and death in this world are unavoidable due to the fallen state of sin.
Gospel: Even if God doesn’t heal our physical bodies, He has prepared a path for our salvation through His Son Jesus.
Life Focus: When going through trials in this life, remember that God works “all things to the good of those who love Him.”

James 5:13-16 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Trivia: Book of Job

  • Trash Can Game: This life pulls us into sin, and the only one we can trust to keep us free from that sin is Jesus.
  •   Mafia: Tie this game in with an opener reminding students that because of sin, people hurt each other, people falsely accuse one another, and people die. Encourage students to think during the game about where God is in the middle of all that suffering--make sure, though, that you answer that during the message.

  • Video: “Even If”, Kutless

This week’s theme means a lot to me. I found out this past week that my great grandma, age 90, is severely sick and likely won’t be with us much longer. When things like this happen—as I felt when my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, or when my cousin died in a house fire, or my family was moved away from my hometown to follow God’s calling in the military—it’s easy to be angry with God. We need to remember, though, that even in the midst of this pain, God hasn’t abandoned us. In fact, it’s just the opposite. He tells us in Romans 8:28 that He is working all things “for the good of those who love Him.”
It doesn’t always feel like God’s working things to our good. In the physical world, with our minds limited by our human nature, we can’t see the big pictures. We hold on to passages like James 5:13-16 or Psalm 91:16, and say that God has to make it better. We figure that if God knows what’s best for us, He won’t let us hurt. How could pain be what’s best for us?
The problem with this mindset is that we don’t always know what’s best for us. In the same way that a two-year-old thinks that what’s best for them is to eat a cookie, we think that what’s best for us is to be happy, or at least comfortable. But that cookie won’t help the child grow and be healthy, and we can’t grow spiritually if all we get are spiritual cookies—happiness, earthly healing, and comfort. By taking us out of our comfort zone, letting us feel pain, letting us experience suffering, God is testing us and refining us “as gold is refined by fire.”
Does that mean that God isn’t going to heal my grandmother? What about the promise in James 5? He promised that “the prayer of faith will heal the one who is sick”, right? But earthly healing and spiritual healing aren’t always the same thing. God can use earthly healing to bring someone to spiritual healing in Jesus, but that’s not always the way He works. When He calls my great-grandma to Him, He hasn’t broken His promise to “heal the one who is sick.” He’s brought her true healing, lasting healing—spiritual healing. He brought her to faith in Him many years ago, and when she dies He’s fulfilling her faith by drawing her to Him in the healing that will never end.
He acts in the same way through our lives here on earth. When bad things happen in this world, we need to hold on tight to the promise that “God works all things for the good of those who love Him.” Then, even in the midst of all the pain and suffering we experience on this earth, we know that “even when the healing doesn’t come”, when we don’t feel God’s love or see Him working, He’s working that everyone would be given the opportunity to come to faith in Him and experience the spiritual healing that never ends.

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