In many ways, we’ve been here before.
Your group members are feeling and thinking… a lot of things. These likely include anxiety, loneliness, depression, miscommunication, lack of motivation, exhaustion, boredom, and much more.
When plans for the future seem uncertain and past milestones are easily dismissed, many groups experience renewed questions and even doubt.
Where is God during a season such as this?
I know He cares about my situation, but how could He let me face this many disappointments? I thought I was following His plans for my life, but even those seem disrupted… Did I miss something? I’m tired. I’m worn out. Is He really a good Father to ask us to endure this long?
But doubt is not a new place for group members to find themselves and we can take steps to help others (and ourselves) walk through such a challenging season.
- Ask the What
It might seem simple, but group members may have a more difficult time pinpointing what they are actually struggling with or feeling than we might initially imagine. It could be that they think they are doubting God’s plan for their lives, but might actually feel guilt that they seemingly haven’t worked hard enough, and thus are afraid that they are missing God’s best. In this scenario, group members are doubting that they are enough, not that God’s plan is enough. Getting deeper into the core of what group members are thinking and feeling in their doubt is the first step in order to start helping. You can simply remember to “ask the what”—from what a group member is telling you of their experience, what might actually be going on within them? Is the “what” they’re struggling with deeper than what they might perceive?
- Identify the When
Once you’ve worked to dig deeper into what someone might be struggling with, you can now begin to help them pinpoint the when. Maybe their “what” is that they doubt whether their inadequate effort has caused them to miss God’s best for their lives. You can look for the when by asking: when—at what times of day, after what activities, during what conversations—do you find yourself feeling this way? For instance, your group member might identify that they feel the most doubt about their inadequacy (and thus God’s plan) in the hour before dinner, when they have finished a work day and are transitioning to focus on their family or friends. Finding the various times or circumstances when the group member begins to struggle with doubt can begin to empower them to avoid becoming debilitated by their doubtful thoughts or feelings but instead look to make a change.
- Search for the Who and How
After knowing “the what” and more closely pinpointing “the when,” now you can encourage your members to ask for “the who & how.” Ultimately, “the who” is Christ and He makes a true impact in our lives. For instance, as the busy mom finishes her work day and starts to prepare dinner for her family and friends, she might begin to doubt her adequacy, and by extension, even God’s goodness. At this moment, she can ask, “Who is Christ, and how does that change my situation, right now?” Christ is her Lord, and He’s brought her into His family with brothers and sisters that love her. Families recognize that mistakes will happen, and she is still loved even when she isn’t “enough,” as none of us truly can be. Remembering that Christ is the one who welcomes us into this family of believers changes her situation. How? This reminds her that she isn’t meant to perform but to show Christ’s love. She’s to help people see more of Jesus, regardless of her adequacy or inadequacy. And that won’t change. The reality of who Christ is brings larger perspective and truth into our moments of doubt. He has the power to truly impact and change our perspectives on these situations.
Our group members are experiencing difficulty. But, there’s help and hope for the here and now. We can ask the what, the why, and the who and how in order to get our doubts back on track. Yet sometimes, we all need further assistance as we ask questions and face persistent doubts about God, His goodness, and faith. Thankfully, we’ve teamed with Barnabas Piper to provide you with additional guidance. If you or your group members are struggling with doubt, check out the Help My Unbelief Bible study to take your next steps.