Grateful, in Spite of Suffering – Session Five
Grateful, in Spite of Suffering – Session Five
In this session we look at how God uses suffering to draw us into a deeper relationship with him and the purpose of this.

This study guide was produced by Keswick Ministries. Keswick Ministries hosts a Convention for 3 weeks each summer in the English Lake District. They also run year-round teaching and training events and produce digital and printed resources. The central vision of Keswick Ministries is to see the people of God equipped, encouraged and refreshed to love and live for Christ in his world. We hope you are blessed by this series.

Getting Started

Gratitude flows freely when it costs us nothing. It is relatively easy to be
grateful to God in the good times, but it’s much harder when he allows
suffering, when he appears to be disciplining us or when our prayers
remain unanswered. If we let it, suffering can suck the gratitude from
our souls, leaving us bitter, hurt and disillusioned.
As countless Christians and Bible writers have found, however, even
in dark days we can be thankful. When the pain is raw, it may take a while,
but suffering and gratitude can coexist. We begin to be grateful when we
acknowledge that God filters trials through his hands, only allowing what
is ultimately for our good. He uses suffering to draw us into a deeper
relationship with himself, to make us more dependent, to teach us
obedience, to make us long for Christ’s return and to make us more like
Jesus. When suffering and grief strip us bare, and God is all we have, our
gratitude unfurls and becomes contagious. We have discovered the sacred
truth: God is enough.

From the Bible Peter 1:3–9

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great
mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance
that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven
for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Discussion Points

Think of the most thankful person you have met. What role has
suffering played in that person’s life?

Personal Application

I have learned that in every circumstance that comes my way, I can choose
to respond in one of two ways: I can whine or I can worship! And I can’t
worship without giving thanks. It just isn’t possible. When we choose the
pathway of worship and giving thanks, especially in the midst of difficult
circumstances, there is a fragrance, a radiance, that issues forth out of our lives to bless the Lord and others.
(Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Gratitude, pp. 23–24)

Prayer Time

Today, in the midst of your pain and suffering, choose to worship God.
Use Psalm 100 as a guide:

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.