In our desire to move ahead in life we sometimes ignore, suppress or minimize the influence of our past—especially the more difficult parts. But Jesus invites us into a healthy spirituality that includes our past! This weekend Pastor Alex Grahmann looks at the story of Joseph, an ancient Hebrew leader, to see God how God’s loving presence, even in the most painful times in our past, can help us experience God’s good future for us—and for those around us.
Group Discussion Guide
To see the leader guide for this week CLICK HERE
Spend a few minutes discussing with your group how their week is going. What are some of their highs and lows?
After your time of connecting, begin your meeting with prayer.
Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
Everyone goes through challenging seasons, even if they are different for each person. This may be the loss of a loved one or painful relationship experience. Time tends to help these difficult circumstances be less painful, but that does not mean we have all healed from these experiences well. Negative experiences can be like a broken bone which, if not set back in place properly, will heal poorly. Unfortunately, sometimes we decide to try simply moving on from our past and hoping it doesn’t affect our future. God, however, invites us into something much healthier: he wants us to give everything to him and believe in his good plan, so he can heal us properly. This is not just an invitation to give God who you are now, but an invitation to give God your past experiences also, so we can understand how we fit into his story. This leads us to our big idea for the week:
Big Idea for the week: We should see our past as part of a good future with God.
- Think of some positive past events in your life. What’s the first positive experience that comes to mind?
- What’s your first gut reaction when you think about past hardships? Why do you think you respond this way?
- How have you typically dealt with painful events in your life?
Go around your group and have someone read each of the following verses, then discuss the connected questions.
- Psalm 13:1-4
- Why do you believe God allows people to go through difficult experiences?
- How do you think God responds when we express our frustration with him and his plan? When was the last time you did this? How was that experience?
- Lamentations 3:31-33
- How does this verse make you feel about God’s love when you were going through difficulty in your past?
- Psalm 13:5-6
- How can we see God’s goodness in the difficult parts of our lives? Why is seeing God’s goodness, especially in challenging moments, an important step for someone who is dealing with past hurt?
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
- Are there any experiences in your life that you’ve moved past, but haven’t fully allowed to heal? If you are comfortable, would you share one of these examples?
- How does knowing God is the source of our comfort change how we can go through difficult times in the future?
- How can viewing your painful experiences as a part of a good future God has for us help others in their lives?
The application today is an exercise to practice this topic in our lives. Try your best to do this exercise over the course of this week and then come together as a group to discuss how it went next week:
Throughout this week, take a few minutes every day to reflect on the difficult moments in your life. You can choose whatever is more helpful to you, whether reflecting on one difficult experience a day or reflecting on one difficult experience throughout the whole week. Try to locate how God was working in those times. This process might take some time to go through, especially if it’s new to you, but try to use this next week as a jumping point for allowing God to heal our past.
A few helpful places to start are asking these questions:
- “Where did God bring me because of this?”
- “Who am I able to help because I went through this?”
- “Were there ways that my life was changed for the better because of this?”
- “How can I ask someone else to help me through this process of healing?”
If you are already in a place where you are processing this topic, that’s wonderful! For you, reflect on your life as well, but ask instead, “How can I help someone to go through this process of healing with God”?
Seek to open yourself up to the good things that God has been doing in your life. It can be difficult to think through these things while in the middle of difficult times, but the hope is that, with time and patience and consistency, we can become closer to God through this process. This will probably take some time, so don’t rush through it. Allow others into this process, if you feel comfortable. God will be with you along this journey because he loves you, and as we grow, we can help others through this process, as well.
Daily Bible Reading
Use the S.O.A.P. method to reflect on the verses below.
Scripture: Read the verses several times out loud.
Observation: As you read the scripture what do you observe.
Application: What is God wanting you to believe, do or feel based on what you have read?
Pray: This is a chance to talk to God about what you have read, and ask him for help in living out what you’ve learned.
- Day 1: Psalms 34:17-20
- Day 2: Psalms 103:13
- Day 3: Hebrews 4:15
- Day 4: Psalm 63:7
- Day 5: Matthew 5:3-4
- Day 6: Lamentations 3:19-24