What is suffering's mysterious role in a Christian life, and how should it mold our response to human agony in the world? The suffering of those called into God's service can be clothed with ever deepening significance -not glorified in itself, but endowed with power to advance God's kingdom.

The Crucifixion is a powerful focal point for our reflection. How we picture the Christ who suffers on the cross says much about both the one whom we follow and who we are as his disciples.

"Some grief is too deep to bear," Stephen Schmidt observes. "It is endured, it is challenged, it becomes the stuff of reconciliation or transformation." Yvonne Dilling recounts the transformation of a Salvadoran hamlet as villagers share their grief. They remind us "there are many crucified peoples, and we need to ask 'Who put them on the cross?'"

Pauline Brand Nelson reflects on a lesson her father, renowned hand surgeon Dr. Paul Brand, taught: "We can use our hands to tell people in pain something about themselves: that they are not alone."

The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to help us to explore the role of suffering in the Christian life. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.

Download the entire Suffering issue and the set of six study guides. Or, download individual pieces by clicking the titles below.



Hymn and Worship Service

Inspirational Pieces

Book Reviews

  • "How the Soul Grows Through Loss," by Phyllis Kersten
    • Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son
    • Gerald L. Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss
  • "Facing Painful Questions," by Roger Ward
    • John G. Stackhouse, Jr., Can God Be Trusted?: Faith and the Challenge of Evil
    • Douglas John Hall, God and Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross
    • Gary Watts, Painful Questions: Facing Struggles with Faith
    • Phillip Yancey, Where is God When It Hurts?

Study Guides and Lesson Plans (Download the set of six Study Guides)

Further Reading