{January 21, 2018}

Heartland Community Church


January 21 – 27, 2018


Whatever It Takes: Must Suffer

By Meghan Hemenway

It is difficult to talk about suffering. I think it is easy to rank and downgrade our own suffering because we know people or have heard stories of those who have gone through pain and loss which seem massive in comparison to ours. So we might tell ourselves that, considering the alternatives, we are fine, just fine. We say prayers of thanksgiving that the unthinkable hasn’t happened to us, with the silent plea underneath that we never lose whatever it is we hold most dear. We promise to cherish that thing if only we could be protected from the suffering.

I once heard a pastor say that if you weren’t currently in a season of suffering to be ready because you soon would be. I was stunned that he would so boldly predict this for all of us. Shouldn’t he want good things for us – joy and peace and love? Shouldn’t we focus on these gifts and not prepare for disaster? I left feeling indignant that he had made the topic of suffering one I couldn’t avoid.

As it turns out, he was right. We must suffer. And he didn’t have to be some kind of fortune teller to know this. Jesus tells his disciples in John 16: 32-33, "Behold the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

Jesus wanted his friends to know that he himself was about to endure great suffering and feel completely alone. His comfort, his loved ones, his life, were going to be taken away, but he had faith that his Father would be with him. He wanted them to understand that they too would experience unthinkable suffering. He would leave them and then they would be separated from each other in the times they would need one another most. All this he told them to bring them…peace. Not panic or fear, but peace in knowing he would go before them and overcome all the suffering. Peace that there would be an end to that suffering. Peace in knowing that however alone they felt, their Father in his great love, would never abandon them.

Now on the other side of some seasons of suffering, I see what that pastor was saying. Don’t fear the experience of pain. Be strong and courageous because you have a God that loves you so much he goes ahead into the danger and never leaves your side. (Deut. 31:6). I have experienced periods of feeling intense closeness with God during the lowest, darkest moments in my life. I treasure those memories of His nearness and they came through suffering.


{sunday 1.21.18}

Read Acts 14:19-23

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Think about your own story and the suffering you have gone through. Who was around you that could encourage you to continue on? Did you feel God’s presence at any point in your journey? If you haven’t been through much suffering can you think of moments when your idea of suffering has been challenged?


{personal reflection and bible reading plan}

As you read the verses each day, make notes of questions you have about what you’re reading as well as answering the reflection questions below. Grab a friend or two to discuss what you are learning and what God is doing in your lives.

CLICK HERE or on image below to enjoy Seth Davidson’s overview of Matthew 9-10.

{monday 1.22.18}

Read Matthew 9:1-13

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Jesus has the authority to to forgive the paralyzed man’s sins and to heal him. Authority in today’s world can take on a negative view. We have authority figures who abuse their power. Those with authority can do what they want because they have the power. Jesus’ authority looks much different. He doesn’t have an army to back him or big scary men to go around enforcing what he wants. Describe Jesus’ authority and contrast that to how you have experienced authority.

{tuesday 1.23.18}

Read Matthew 9:14-26

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In these verse we come across stories that have to do with hygiene. At this point in history they did not have the scientific understanding we do today. They dealt with hygiene issues that impacted the community through their faith since that’s what their community was based around. There is a deeper level of understanding here that we can focus on. There was also a sense of feeling "unclean" that impacted the individuals in 1st century Judea that we too experience today. We as individuals may feel unwelcome because of something that effects us physically. Is there something physical about you that makes you uncomfortable with other people? Do you know someone else that might feel this way?

{wednesday 1.24.18}

Read Matthew 9:27-38

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The Pharisees accuse Jesus of working for Satan when he casts out demons. He doesn’t take a moment to argue or debate. He moves right along with a farming analogy about there is plenty of harvesting to do but not enough workers. He’s not focused on false accusations but on the work that must be done. I wish I followed this type of thinking more often. When someone accuses me of something it consumes me for awhile. I’m unable to move forward with work that needs to be done until I have the issue resolved. Resolving the issue really is about me feeling better about myself. What is your reaction when someone accuses you of something? Share this with a trusted friend or group.

{thursday 1.25.18}

Read Matthew 10:1-16

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Jesus instructs the apostles for the first time ever to head out on their own carrying his message. He instructs them to take no money or any kind of gift for the message. Are you more or less likely to believe something if it comes with a price? What does it mean to give something away for free? When we share what Jesus has done in our lives, should we have any expectations (emotional, commitment, etc…) at all from the receiver of our story? Should we even expect them to receive what we are sharing kindly?

{friday 1.26.18}

Read Matthew 10:17-25

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What does it look like for someone in our culture to be shrewd like a snake but innocent as a dove? Discuss with a trusted friend and/or group.

{saturday 1.27.18}

Read Matthew 10:26-42

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I love the beginning of this scripture "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light, and what you hear whispered in your ears, announce from the roofs of houses." None of this "What happens here stays here." with Jesus. Don’t go sharing all the secrets your friends have confided with you. This is not telling us to betray anyone’s confidence. I love that Jesus had nothing to hide. He let it all be known. How can you line more transparent in your life?


{community discussion questions}

We weren’t meant to experience the life of Jesus alone, so we encourage you to rally a few others to discuss what you are hearing, reading, and reflecting on together. Whether you are meeting as a Journey Community group, talking with a few friends throughout the week, or bringing up spiritual conversations around your table at home, feel free to use some of these questions as conversation starters on your journey.

  • Can you name a takeaway or challenge from the Sunday message?
  • How has that been relevant, challenging, or meaningful to your life this week?
  • What have you observed about God, Jesus, yourself, others, or God’s plan for you from these readings?
  • Where do you need a breakthrough from God this week?
  • Who do you need to share what you’re learning about God with?


{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE for more on how to use the observe-reflect-apply approach to getting the most out of your Bible reading.

The Bible App Get a free Bible for your phone, tablet, and computer. Experience the Bible anywhere, with options to highlight, save notes, and share what you are reading with others.

Bible Gateway Provides advanced Bible searching capabilities, which allow readers to find passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference.


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