Healthy small groups don’t eliminate pain, but they provide a place where pain can be prayed for and processed.
We met Rodney and Sun-Yee in the previous post, two talented people whose pain limited their impact in the world and their satisfaction within it.
Rodney’s pride pushed people away. Instead of using his intellect to call out the best in others, he used it as a weapon to prove his value.
Sun-Yee’s approachability and intuitive questions sparked hope in others, yet she refused to embrace the same hope she shared with others.
In Henri Nouwen’s book, The Wounded Healer, he writes
A Christian community is “a healing community not because wounds are cured and pains are alleviated, but because wounds and pains become openings or occasions for a new vision.”
But Nouwen’s quote describes what AA members already know: Hope is always an option.
After the Apostle Peter denied Jesus a third time and then heard the rooster crow, Mark writes that Peter broke down and wept (Mark 14:72). Imagine the emotional pain and disappointment he felt.
What do you do with your pain? What does your church offer those who openly cry out or silently retreat?
Hope is always an option.
The small group is a valuable tool to invite people to be transparent and encourage group members to receive them and breathe life into them.
Small groups don’t eliminate pain, but they pray for people in pain with a simple 4-step approach:
- Follow-up (to encourage and care)
God has always done his best work when all appeared hopeless:
- God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt
- God provided a son to elderly Abraham and Sarah
- Jesus healed the paralyzed man (both physically and spiritually) carried to him by four friends
- Jesus rose from the dead
- Jesus commissioned Peter to minister despite having rejected him
Small groups don’t eliminate pain, but they remind people that hope is always an option.
Don’t expect your small group to be the panacea for all of your ails. Jesus is the one who saves, not your small group. But a healthy small group will remind you that God loves you and they love you. Yes, your group will also be a place of frustration, but that reflects the reality of being human.
Don’t expect a perfect group, but a good group points people to a perfect Savior.
QUESTION (leave a comment below)
What is one small group memory that encourages you or that you thank God for?