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Friday, January 24, 2014

How Could a Good God Allow So Much Suffering? (Message Outline)

How Could a Good God Allow So Much Suffering?
Genesis 50:15-22

We can live with hope and generosity because God is always working to accomplish his purposes 

1. See examples of suffering 

  • Hate: Genesis 37:4, 8
  • Betrayal: Genesis 37:18-20, 26-27, 33-34
  • Hopelessness: Genesis 38
  • Temptation: Gen. 39:7-8
  • Falsely accused: Genesis 39:15-16
  • Punished for doing the right thing: Genesis 39:20
  • Forgotten: Genesis 40:23

2. See examples of how God redeems suffering 

  • Promoted: Genesis 41:37-40
  • Protected: Genesis 42:1-5
  • Provided: Genesis 44:18-33

3. See how trusting God transforms your view of suffering

Genesis 45:1-8, 24

Genesis 50:15–21 (ESV) When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Questions for discussion and reflection:
1. How have people questioned your faith in God due to suffering?
2. When have you been tempted to doubt God through personal suffering of or that of others?
3. How have you seen God redeem suffering?
4. How can you account for Joseph’s response to his suffering? What makes the difference in one who turns toward God and one who turns away from God? 
5. Why do you think Joseph tested his brothers to the extent that he did?
6. What evidence can you give for trusting God in the midst of suffering? 
7. How may suffering and evil actually be evidence for God?
8. How can a focus on the cross help you face suffering?

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