Week Five | When You’re About to Give Up
‘Self-help’ lists are everywhere. If you “Google” ‘perseverance, persistence and grit’ you will find multiple articles. In this we have a conundrum. People today have a plethora of voices telling them how to be happy or how to persevere, yet more than ever, people are lonely and directionless.
With thousands of sources a click away it’s easy to relegate biblical wisdom as just another option on how to live ‘my’ life and pursue ‘my’ passion. The Bible resists the notion of addressing our questions or agenda and directs us to ask the most important questions in life: “Why am I here?” “What is most important in life?” “Who is Jesus Christ?”
Through his hardships, in 2 Corinthians 4 Paul addresses issues and questions that every person faces. Though his circumstances may be more severe than yours, he shares how you can overcome trials such as discouragement, rejection, injustice, disappointment, physical and emotional pain. You will find that it all comes down to, Jesus.
Paul challenges us to embrace a reality that stretches beyond the limits of our physical senses.
- One a scale of 1 to 10—One being, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” and Ten being, “God said it, I believe it that’s good enough for me.” Where would you place yourself at the moment? In other words, are you by nature a more skeptical person or a trusting person? (There is no wrong answer here.) What is the strength and weakness of be skeptical? And with a very trusting person?
- What areas do you find hard to completely entrust to God? For what reasons do you often get discouraged?
- Paul had an ‘occupation.’ He was a tent maker. But what is it that keeps Paul from giving up on life? (4:1)
- Much of what stresses us are things about current life—our occupation, the place we live, friends and family. God understands our responsibilities and cares about these things. However, if you are a disciple of Jesus, you, like Paul, are to have a ministryas well as an earthly ‘occupation.’ What is your ministry?
- Where do Paul’s trials and setbacks come from, his occupation as a tent-maker or his ministry to share the gospel? (4:2-6) Where is Paul’s emotional investment, God’s ministry in his life or his earthly ‘occupation?’ Is it possible to do your ministry through your occupation?
- What has the god of this age done? (4:4) Is the god of this age still trying to do this today? How might even disciples of Jesus be blinded in some areas of life if we are not careful? How can this skew our perspective on a problem or setback?
- Paul says that we have a treasure in an earthen jar. (4:7) What is this treasure? Why does Paul describe us as ‘earthen jars?’
- What was Paul’s hope to not give up and persevere? (4:13-14) Is this your first instinct? Honestly, is this the first thought that comes to your mind in times of disappointment? What is the difference between our emotions and our faith? Can you have faith with seasons of fear?
- Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. How did Paul encourage the early Christians in Corinth to persevere in times of difficulty? Why is it so hard sometimes to fix our attention and hope on God?
- When Paul wrote this last passage (16-18) there was not empirical evidence that invisible things existed…or the unseen being real. Yet today we have quantum physics and theoretical physics. We have ‘certainty’ that there is a greater universe then we can see. How can these new insights strengthen our confidence in the authority of God’s word and bolster our faith? How can we have confidence that what is unseen is more real than what is seen?
Include in your closing prayer in your group this thought: “Jesus, because you are risen, you are here with us now. Our hope is in you. Help us believe.”