Week 13- Joy in Suffering

MONDAY — Read the passage with your team.

   12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

   1 After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2 He said: 3 “May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’”

Job 2:12—3:3

8 Would you discredit my justice?
   Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
   and can your voice thunder like his?

Job 40:8-9

2 I know that you can do all things;
   no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
   Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
   things too wonderful for me to know.

Job 42:2-3

What does this passage have to say about joy?

Why is that important?

TUESDAY — Discuss the passage with your team.

1) The book of Job tells the story of a man who undergoes great disaster.  How great was his suffering, according to Job 2:12-3:3?  Think of a time of sadness in your own life; share this with your team, if you feel that you are able.  Does that time compare to what Job went through (loss of all of his possessions, death of all of his children, and complete deterioration of his health)?  Job doesn’t bounce back   immediately after these trials and make a forced (and perhaps fake) attempt at joy; he struggles, because the circumstances of his life were hard.

2) What, then, does Job say (3:1-3)?  What has his suffering caused him to question?  Who gave him life, and has he remained thankful for that, in the midst of his pain?

3) In the midst of hard practices or frustrating losses or challenging relationships (with teammates or coaches or opposing teams), do you remain thankful your athletic abilities, for the opportunity to play, and for the things that God is accomplishing in you through these experiences?

WEDNESDAY — Discuss the passage with your team.

4) Job 40:8-9 represents a lengthy discourse between God and Job.  Of what does God accuse Job (v. 8), and of what does He remind him (v. 9)?  Do you ever   question God’s wisdom or justice, or do you speak or act as if you know better than Him?  Can you claim to have the power or knowledge of God?

5) How do you do this, even if only in what you consider to be small (or rather insignificant) areas of your life?  Do you complain about the weather, or resent the sprints that your coach made you run?  Aren’t all complaints a way of saying, “I know better than you, Lord”?

THURSDAY — Discuss the passage with your team.

6) In his response what does Job declare about God (42:2), and what does he admit (42:3)?  In what, ultimately, does Job find his rest and joy?  Do you experience joy in knowing that you aren’t in control?  Why or why not?  Can you be joyful in knowing that someone so much greater/wiser/more powerful is in control?  Will this joy always eliminate sadness?  Why or why not?

7) In what ways have you suffered as an athlete?  Maybe this was an injury, or a  difficult relationship with a coach or teammate; perhaps you experienced discouragement from a lack of confidence, or grew overly frustrated with your playing time or a disappointing season.  Your pain may have been physical, mental, social, or spiritual; regardless of its form, does suffering change who God is?  Does your difficulty change the fact that God can do all things (v. 2); can you rely on His power and love for you, in the midst of these times?  Does your pain alter God’s plans for your life (v. 3); can you accept that His plans are beyond your comprehension, and simply trust in His goodness?  What will these attitudes lead you to do in the midst of trials?  Do these habits mark you, as an athlete?  As a student?  As a friend?  As a son or daughter?

FRIDAY — Discuss sport applications of joy, and pray together.

· Ask your athletes to briefly reflect on what they’ve learned about joy this week, and to repeat some of those things.  (Remind them of some of the Biblical truths about joy you’ve discussed, if necessary.)

· Ask your team, “Based on what we learned about joy this week...What does a joyful athlete do?”  Do not settle for vague answers; challenge your athletes to go beyond general qualities of a joyful athlete, and to  determine what those qualities look like in action.

· Add the results to your team’s list of descriptions of the “joyful athlete”, and be sure the list is displayed somewhere that is constantly visible, as a reminder to the team.

· Pray together as a team.  Encourage your athletes to pray for your team’s growth in regard to the discipline of joy — especially in relation to some of the issues and challenges that you discussed together this week.  Challenge them to also ask for forgiveness, when applicable.  Give time for athletes to request prayer (regarding joy or anything else), and pray together.


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Grove City CollegeWaynesburg UniversityCentral Christian College of Kansas