As a professor, counselor, and writer, I engage with people every day about their deepest experiences of pain and struggle. We live in a broken world, filled with disappointment, problems, and difficulties. This is a predictable part of life. Jesus promised that “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33a). My guess is that this “promise” likely rings true for you. I know I have had my share of trouble in my life, and if you’re like most people, you have experienced trouble as well.
I love it that the verse doesn’t stop there. After noting the inevitable reality of suffering, Jesus gives us reason for hope: “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). The story does not stop with brokenness and pain. Your story—and those of others you serve—doesn’t have to stop there.
The overcoming life of Jesus gives us hope for healing, growth, and new life. His life is stronger than anything in this world. Sickness is terrible; Jesus healed. Physical needs are daunting; Jesus fed. Demonic possession is terrifying; Jesus set people free. Death catches up with each of us eventually; Jesus resurrected Lazarus. Clearly, this does not mean all your troubles will go away. It did not mean that for Jesus. He was killed, but then God raised him from the dead. “…Take heart! I have overcome the world,” is the message that echoes in creation after the life of Christ.
The Ministry of Overcoming
In our own lives, we have an opportunity to participate in this ministry of overcoming, each time we interact with people who are struggling. In my experience—of all the things that contribute to healing and growth, the most important is relationship. Brokenness occurs in relationship; healing also happens in relationship. That’s the reason why I love small groups so much. The relationship between the small group leader and the group members are powerful, but the group members also experience the healing power of relationships with the other group members.
Helping Groups Heal
Our goal in writing the book Helping Groups Heal is to help group leaders be more effective in leading their small groups. Leading small groups is difficult. Some basic foundational skills can go a long way in setting up a small group that helps its members to experience life to the full. Helping Groups Heal takes some basic principles from group therapy and puts them into an easy-to-understand model that is consistent with a Christian worldview and accessible to the non-professional. Our hope is that whatever type of small group you lead—therapy group, support group, or bible study—Helping Groups Heal will enable you to learn and develop skills that will improve your ability to lead your group members in their process of healing and growth.