Group leader reads aloud these opening words from Stasi:
I love to celebrate. I love birthday parties and baby showers, holidays and homecomings. But I especially love Christmas. Except when I don’t. At the beginning of too many holiday seasons, I can become overwhelmed by what is “required” of me. That is, I did, until I needed to pare down for my sanity’s sake and to also keep my family from hiding from me. Still, I love creating spaces for beauty and for others’ lives to be honored. And honestly, there’s no one I love to honor more than our Jesus, and gathering to celebrate Him brings me the greatest joy.
But life doesn’t take holidays. Pain doesn’t check out. World events don’t slow down. Evil doesn’t give vacations. So how do we become a people who learn to celebrate the goodness of God and His many gifts in the midst of what is often a heartbreaking world? How do we grow to be a people known for our unwavering joy right in the middle of our hurting world?
Let’s press in to find out together.
WATCH VIDEO SESSION 1
Make note of anything that stands out to you in the teaching.
Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. — Psalm 30:5
GROUP DISCUSSION: “DEFIANCE”
Gather into small groups if part of a larger group. Spend time together reacting to what Stasi said in the video through these prompts and questions.
Read aloud as a group the following Scripture:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. — Romans 8:18
What jumped out at you or surprised you or struck you most in the video?
- Stasi said defiance means resistance, opposition, noncompliance, disobedience, dissent, and rebellion. How do you feel about associating this definition with the living God?
- When it comes to things that would destroy our souls, do you agree or disagree that this is the right response? Why or why not?
- We oppose death and destruction by the life of Christ in us. We dissent by casting our vote against the belief that sorrow and endless suffering win. We welcome life, love, and the full work of Christ to bring all of His goodness into every aspect of our and His domains. Brainstorm together some words you could use to fill in these blanks and briefly discuss what it means to actively oppose death through the life of Christ in us:
We comply with ______________________.
We obey ___________________.
We respect His ______________ and His __________________.
We overcome evil with ___________________________________________.
We defy hatred by embracing ____________________________________.
We dissent by _____________________________.
We choose _______________________.
- Think about the phrase “choose joy.” Make a list of what that might look like in your everyday life, and share one idea with the group.
- Share two or three areas where you would like more joy in your life.
- Everyone has known seasons of suffering and pain. Every person has a story to tell. Tell about either a past time of suffering or one that you’re currently experiencing.
- In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 esv, emphasis added). What is the cup you are asking (or have asked) to pass from you?
Encourage one another to accept God’s will, not our own, in this circumstance.
- To continue to host the Christmas Party on the evening that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place, we needed to be honest about our grief and sorrow over the lives lost. We also needed to proclaim that even in the midst of this horrific tragedy, Jesus has triumphed over death. Where do you need to proclaim and enforce the victory of Jesus Christ? (Take turns sharing.) In a place you are struggling or fearful • Where you are concerned over loved ones lives and choices • A particular evil in the world
The presence of God is our good. And knowing His presence in the pain is the sweetest gift of all.
Ask for volunteers to read each of the following verses/passages aloud to the group. Go around the room and have each woman share one word or phrase that comes to mind after hearing these Scriptures:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. — John 16:33
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. — Zephaniah 3:17
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may share in his glory. — Romans 8:16–17
Leader reads this final note from Stasi:
Yes, Jesus is known as the Man of Sorrows, but He is also the God of great joy! He rejoices over you. Yes, you. Right now. Our God sees the end from the beginning. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see your failures, your disappointments, or even your sins. He looks at you and sees His spotless, perfect, beloved. His favor rests on you. He chose you before the foundation of the earth to belong to Him. You are His child.
We can rejoice over that.
Leader or volunteer, close your group time in prayer:
Dear Father, Thank you that I am Your child. I pray to know You more deeply as my good Father. I pray to encounter Your love increasingly, even in moments and seasons of travail. I need to see life with Your eyes. You know that what is suffered now does not compare to the glory that You will reveal in us. I pray to know that too. Thank You that You will provide everything I need every single day of my life. I pray to know Your Presence in the midst of my every day — the days of celebration and the days of sorrow. Your Name is Faithful and True, and I believe You are for me. Thank You. Thank You.
In Jesus’ glorious Name, Amen.
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