By Sandy Schaupp and Marc Papai

Suffering and Spiritual Formation

Abstract: Suffering is the unwanted house guest that moves into our individual and corporate lives and never seems to leave soon enough. He wears many guises. This workshop seeks to give InterVarsity staff a richer understanding and vocabulary for suffering and spiritual formation. We will examine the anti-suffering commitments of American culture. We will explore the connection between suffering and character development. Finally we will provide Biblical disciplines to respond to suffering.

Executive Summary

If the members of your staff team and the students you serve have not experienced suffering and loss already, they will. Some will experience the death of a family member. For others, it will be a debilitating illness. Many will be the victims of discrimination, violence, family dysfunction, or economic deprivation. A few will suffer with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or a host of other psychological maladies that make life unbearable. Some will be betrayed by people they trust. Others will betray and suffer the consequences of their sin. Finally there is the daily grind of life—traffic, rude people, heartbreaking news reports, too much to do in too little time, superficiality, and loneliness. Life is tough.

How do we respond both individually and corporately? Who and where is God for us in those seasons when life is a struggle? In what ways does our American culture with its sense of entitlement, create false expectations? Are there ways to process our sorrow that might help us discover a more redemptive purpose in our suffering?

Two Training Modules

To help you and your team explore some of these questions together, we have created two training options: a six hour workshop and a two hour workshop focused on Suffering and Spiritual Formation. Each option is comprised of five sections and includes discussion questions, film clip, Scripture study, individual and group reflection guides, and a listing of helpful resources for further study. The various links and PDF handouts used in the training are listed below. We recommend you look first at the six hour workshop to better understand the flow of the training.

Documents for Suffering and Spiritual Formation

Six Hour Training Workshop

Two Hour Training Workshop for Suffering and Spiritual Formation.pdf

Daily Examin.pdf

Four Laments.pdf

Scripture Passages for Suffering and Spiritual Formation.pdf

Suffering Personal Reflection.pdf