Our culture would rather avoid emotional pain and suffering than engage it. These experiences are treated as obstacles to living life to its fullest. Yet when we look back at our lives it’s usually the difficult events that have shaped us the most. Far from getting in the way of our emotional maturity, nothing helps us grow emotionally like pain and suffering. But to make these experiences useful we need a plan; a way to process our pain.

Is there a difficult event that significantly shaped you? In what way(s) did that event shape you are today?

Read Romans 8:35-39. Emotional pain and suffering can make us feel like God is far from us, even though His love doesn’t change. Why is that? Is it easier to feel God’s love when you experience pleasant emotions? Why do you think that is?

We read 2 Corinthians 1:4. Revisit that verse this week. Has there been a time when you’ve been able to use difficult experiences from your past to help someone else? Or maybe you’re in the middle of a painful time. Can you imagine how this situation might comfort someone in the future?

Sometimes we’re afraid to tell God how we feel. But God isn’t afraid of our emotions. Read Job chapter 12 and Psalm 13:1-2. Obviously, God can handle criticism. We can tell God anything. Has there ever been a time you’ve held something back from Him out of fear?

Pain and suffering create a new normal in our lives. We need time to step back and recalibrate to this new normal. What did it look like for Jesus to step back (Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35)?

When processing our emotional pain, we looked at three practices that can help us explore our pain. Have there been other practices that have helped you in the past?