In Mark 4:35-41 we read that one evening Jesus ordered His disciples to cross the sea of Galilee by boat and as they crossed a great storm suddenly arose and the ship appeared to be sinking.
Contrast the reaction of Jesus with that of His disciples.
What do you think? Is this just a miracle, or is there a lesson for us about how we should react in the “storms” of our lives?
What else impresses you about this account?
Filed under Faith, Trials, Trust
These are Jesus’ last recorded instructions to his apostles. (Chapter 17 is a prayer.)
He says he is speaking plainly and He does. He tells them He came from the Father into the world, and is now leaving the world going back to the Father. The disciples say they understand but He warns them again that they will soon forsake him.
Consider that verse 33 is the last recorded teaching that Jesus gives to His apostles. Why was this a great thing to tell them? Does it apply also to us?
We finished our class on 1 Peter, “We’ve Lost The Culture War, Are We Now Ready To Suffer”, by looking at the last paragraph. It tells us to be sober and watchful because the devil is looking to destroy us (5:8). We are to “resist him, steadfast in the faith” (5:9). Then verse 10 gives us a wonderful promise: After we “have suffered a while” God will, “perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle” us.
A point of emphasis in our class was that resisting temptation is a form of suffering. This is true whether we are talking about giving in to sin or giving up on God because of discouragement or threat of persecution. Resisting temptation means denying the desires of the flesh (whether indulgence or preservation). But also we noted the text encourages us by telling us this suffering is for “a little while”.
A similar idea was seen in 1 Peter 1:6 – “for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials”. Suffering is “for a little while”.
Question: What does “for a little while” mean to you? How does this phrase encourage you?
Wednesday night in our Esther class we saw that God got the Jews through their crises. Haman was killed and King Ahasuerus authorized a second decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves.
When the Jews thought they were going to die, chapters 3 and 4 described them as “perplexed”, “mourning”, “weeping and wailing”. Chapter 8:16 and 17 describes the Jews now as having “light and gladness, joy and honor. And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday”.
God got them through their crises. He will do the same for us! In our dark times we need to “wait on the Lord”. Things will get better, usually in this life, but if not in this life, certainly in the next!
8:17 adds this: “Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them”. One of the good things that came out of this horrible ordeal was many non-Jews turned to God.
Question: No one wishes for trials to come, but if through our trials some are led to Jesus or brought closer to Jesus – is it worth it? If that is the case how does that make us like Jesus?
Before His trials began Job is described as a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil (1:1). In the immediate aftermath of the first round of his sufferings the Bible says “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (1:22).
In the latter chapters God will rebuke him and he will repent: “Behold, I am vile” (40:4), “I repent in dust and ashes” (42:6).
As the book plays out Job gives what he calls “free course” to his complaints (10:1). Consider some of the things he said about God:
- Why do You hide Your face, And regard me as Your enemy? (13:24)
- I was at ease, but He has shattered me; He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces; He has set me up for His target, His archers surround me. He pierces my heart and does not pity (16:12-14).
- As God lives, who has taken away my justice, And the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter (Job 27:2).
- But You have become cruel to me; With the strength of Your hand You oppose me (Job 30:21).
Can you imagine saying something like that about God? Why do you think Job said these things? Could this be Job’s sin? Is there anything about they way he says these things that shows he still has faith in God?
As Job deals with his suffering he seems strong in his faith in God. “Though He slay me I will trust in Him (13:15). This is in spite of the fact that he believed God was responsible for his sufferings (that’s a point of discussion: who to blame God or Satan? In 12:9 Job seems to place the responsibility on God: “the hand of the LORD has done this”).
Someone said Job felt his sufferings were “an attack by God for some unknown reason”. If he knew the reason for his trials, or if we know the reason for ours, (if there is one), it might make it easier to bear.
Question: What are some of the reasons God may allow us to experience sufferings? Consider: James 1:3, James 1:12, John 9:1-4, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, John 15:2.
Last Sunday we looked at Job 3. Job’s losses are recorded in chapters 1 and 2. In chapter 1 he lost his possessions, servants, and his seven sons and three daughters. In chapter 2 he lost his own health. We noted his remarkably strong and courageous initial response – he expressed his grief, but he kept his faith in God: “the Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21).
In chapter 3, some time has passed and his tone has changed. Chapter 3 records him crying out to God. 7 times he asks “why?”. “Why was I born?” Why can’t I just die? We are not suggesting he lost his faith, but he seems to be breaking down and is overwhelmed by his anguish.
One point we considered is that godly people don’t always just “sing and be happy”. His losses were fearfully painful and we see here very real anguish expressed by a very godly man.
We also thought about how when someone suffers great loss, the initial responses are sometimes very brave. The first few days they are occupied with decisions and are surrounded by friends, and may simply be in a state of shock. Job 3 made us think of how sometime later, after a funeral, when everyone is gone, reality begins to settle in. Those can be the toughest days.
What can we learn from Job’s very real grief in chapter 3, about how we can help those who are suffering?
Filed under Grief, Job, Trials