This week Gene talked about the challenges that we go through in our lives. Some of those challenges are small, and some are monumental.
Gene began his message with a story about his favorite fishing spot. It’s one that takes some effort to get to. What’s something you enjoy in spite of—or perhaps because of—the challenge it presents?
Have a volunteer read Genesis 37:2-11, 25-36
As we come to his story Joseph is a teenager and he’s growing up in a pretty dysfunctional family.
Joseph is the first son of Jacob’s favorite wife. Jacob has 4 wives, so Joseph has a mother and 3 step-moms. His brothers hate him because his father plays favorites. And Joseph doesn’t help matters when he tattles on his brothers and then suggests that his whole immediate family is going to bow down to him.
This story is full of characters:
Jacob, the patriarch
Joseph, the young protagonist
Rachel, the favorite wife
Reuben, the oldest brother
Judah, the brother who decides to sell rather than kill Joseph
The other brothers
The other wives
Who do you sympathize with most in this story? Why?
The brothers’ dislike of Joseph is certainly understandable, although to call their response an overreaction is certainly an understatement.
When someone wrongs us, when they cause adversity in our lives, what is the appropriate way to respond?
Responding appropriately when someone causes adversity is often much harder than overreacting. How can we make sure that we actually do respond appropriately?
Have a volunteer read Genesis 39:1-10.
Potiphar’s beautiful wife is trying to seduce Joseph, but he’s having none of it. In the midst of adversity, we so often rationalize doing something we know we shouldn’t. But here’s Joseph, a slave who’s hundreds of miles from everything he’s ever known, and he won’t give in.
Is there a time when you’ve chosen to do the right thing in the midst of adversity?
Have a volunteer read Genesis 39:11-20.
Joseph’s integrity gets him thrown in jail. Has there ever been a time when doing the right thing has actually brought you more adversity?
Have a volunteer read Genesis 39:21-23.
Even though Joseph’s external circumstances seemed to suggest that God had forgotten him, the reality was the opposite. It took many years, but eventually Joseph gets out of prison and ends up as the number two guy in Egypt, second only to Pharoah.
Have you ever been in a difficult situation and realized that God was present with you? Or maybe He was there, but you didn’t realize it until later?
As we continue reading Joseph’s story, we learn that there was a famine in Egypt, but Joseph had prepared for it. Joseph’s family ends up coming to Egypt to buy food, not realizing that the brother they had sold into slavery was the one who had prepared for the famine.
Have a volunteer read Genesis 50:15-21.
Joseph, in spite of all his brothers had done, understands that God had used the adversity they put him through to save many people.
Has there ever been a time when you’ve been able to leverage past adversities in your own life for the benefit of others?
There are two kinds of people in a small group, those who are going through adversity and those who are not.
If you’re in a season of adversity, then you have two tasks.
The first is to press into God, to spend time seeking him. God doesn’t promise we’ll never go through adversity, but He does promise to be with us. And His presence brings us the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) in the midst of our difficult circumstances.
Your second task is to find someone to share your struggles with. Maybe you already have someone, but if you don’t, perhaps there’s a person in this group you can talk to. One of the advantages of following Jesus is being a part of a community that is designed to support us.
If you’re not in a season of adversity, then you have one task.
Find a way to serve someone who is struggling. Maybe you know an elderly person who could use a friend, a struggling family that needs financial help, a single parent that needs a babysitter, or a fellow small group member that needs a shoulder to cry on.