*Some call it a quiet time. We call it a Vision Quest. This is a simple Bible study to help you along your journey of discovering God’s purpose for your life.
At some point in our lives, we will all face hardships – physical or emotional health challenges in ourselves or our families, financial difficulty, strained marriages, unanswered prayers, or any number of other stresses. During these hard times, trusting God can be especially difficult. If God is good, we wonder, why is he allowing this to happen to me? Why isn’t he answering my prayers?
Scriptures help teach us that God protects us in hardships, despite how we feel in our current circumstances. God doesn’t promise that life will be easy, but he does promise to give us the internal strength to overcome our pain and find purpose in it.
The Bible also helps us see the realities of this world and the real reasons why suffering and pain exist, and how to turn to God in hardship instead of blaming him.
First, ask yourself a couple questions:
- How have difficult situations in your life shaped your view of God?
- How much effort have you put into searching the Bible yourself for answers from God as to why he might be allowing you to go through your current circumstances?
God Watches Over Us
But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the LORD, whose people he has chosen for his own. The LORD looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory — for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We depend on the LORD alone to save us. Only he can help us, protecting us like a shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.
Psalm 33:11-22 (NLT)
God is a caring God who watches over us. He is not someone who changes his mind about loving us. Sometimes we try to put our trust in things or people to make us feel secure and safe, like our physical strength or ability, our finances, or our family members. While these things are not inherently bad, they are also not always dependable. Sometimes in life our talents will not be enough, our money will run out, and our family members may let us down. Only God is unshakeable.
- What are some things you trust in other than God? Can you see any ways that these things or people might not be completely unshakeable?
- When you put your hope and trust in God alone, you give him an opportunity to show you that he is trustworthy.
God Carries Our Burdens
“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
We often think that God can do nothing about the burdens we feel or that he is the reason for them. The truth is that God actually gives us relief and rest from all the things that weigh us down. Jesus’ teachings are not overbearing, but having a friendship with God actually makes life easier to deal with.
- Is this scripture hard for you to believe? Why or why not?
- What past experiences make you think following what the Bible says would make your life harder/worse?
- Jesus says he is gentle and humble. Humility makes our burdens lighter because humility makes us be honest with God and friends about how we really feel and ask for help. How can you be humble today?
Where Does Suffering Come From?
Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 (MSG)
Scriptures teach that difficult times come from people’s choices to love themselves instead of God and other people. Pain in our lives is not from God but often from choices others around us have made or choices we ourselves have made.
God doesn’t cause pain, he tries to give us a way out of it.
- What do you think the scripture means when it says people make a “show of religion”? How do you see that in your own life?
- Selfishness and lack of love make life harder. We feel worse when we indulge in self-pity instead of being grateful for the ways God has in fact helped us. What in your life can you be grateful for?
- Decide to go out of your way and do something loving for someone else today.
God Gives Us Purpose Great Than Our Pain
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort – we get a full measure of that, too. When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it. We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally – not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! 10 And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.
2 Corinthians 1:4-10 (MSG)
- God is right there with us through the hard times! He allows us to go through some suffering, only so we can become stronger in it and turn to him and help other people do the same. He wants to comfort us, strengthen us, and turn us into people that inspire others in hard times.
- Where do you turn when things get hard? How can you start turning to God more? what will that look like practically?
Challenge: Seek out someone who needs help and is going through a hard time and help them with the comfort and encouragement you have gotten from God today! Relate to them by telling them about how you got through a hard time in your life by going to God.