We are starting a long but all-important journey these next thirteen weeks—a journey into the meaning of suffering, evil, and death. Yes, suffering can be studied as a separate phenomenon of human existence; it can be studied from a scientific or psychological perspective in such terms as perception, affections, and consequences. However, the biblical view on suffering is much deeper. The Bible explains the origin of suffering—an origin that exonerates God from any responsibility for bringing sin into existence. The Bible also shows how God uses suffering as a transformational framework for our own enrichment, victory, and eternal life. If we imagine life as a journey, Psalm 23 is one of the best places to start, because it talks about a path. This path takes us through the highs and lows of our lives. More important, Someone is guiding us on that path. That Someone is more than a Guide; He is a caring and loving Shepherd. The most important questions for our journey, for our highs and lows, are: Do we know the Shepherd? Do we trust Him whatever happens or wherever He may decide to take us?
Lesson Themes: This week’s lesson highlights three major themes.
1. It is very important to understand that our life is a journey that takes different turns.
2. It also is crucial to remember that this path does not wind chaotically, by chance. God is our Guide and Shepherd, and He may allow us to
traverse, or actively take us through, the valleys of suffering and death. But God does not expect us to make this journey blindfolded. Rather,
He gives us a sure promise that He will lead us to salvation.
3. There is no way to survive the crucibles of life if we do not trust our Shepherd to take us through them.
Thought question: Have you ever felt that you have been “falsely led” into the valley? How did you respond to God during this time? Why do you think the Shepherd might be willing to risk being misunderstood by permitting us to enter a dark valley?
Audio recordings are available 5-10 minutes after the show has aired.