Week 2: Bitter Complaints
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).
Gathering and Opening (10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, have participants respond to the question: “When have you felt most alone?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read Job 23:1-9; 16-17. (Read the entirety of chapter 23, if time permits.)
Optional Opening Exercise:
Have participants draw or color an image that represents being deserted. An alternative exercise, especially for the more tech-savvy participants, is to have them use a cell phone, tablet, or other device to find images that represent feelings of being deserted. Have participants share their images with the group. Another option is to have participants talk about times they have felt deserted.
According to Job 23:1-7, what are Job’s desires? [lay his case before him, learn from his answers, be acquitted]
- If you could ask God any question, what would it be?
- Which word(s) best describe your relationship with God?
- How is it possible that we affirm that God constantly desires to draw us closer in relationship and that God seems to hide from us?
- Who do you know who might feel alone (and/or is full of bitter complaints)? How might you reach out to them (and be present without being preachy)?
- (R) Many saints of the church, including Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. John of the Cross, have attested to long periods of feeling deserted by God. Have you had a similar experience? What can be gained by such times?
- (R) Allow participants to write their own laments. After everyone has finished (or at the appropriate time), place the laments in the center of the table or room or hold them up symbolically. Offer one or more prayers over the laments. Allow time for silent prayer before ending.
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or a similar prayer:
Covenant God, sometimes we are tempted to believe because of our pain and suffering that we are alone. During such times, help us to recognize your abiding presence. Give us discerning eyes and ears to notice when others feel alone or are in pain. Amen.