Life Group Discussion Guide

It is universally true that everybody’s life is completely jacked up by sin.

Sometimes our own sin creates chaos in our life. Sometimes somebody else’s sin toward us creates chaos. Sometimes we have no idea what went wrong, but we know that we are living the effects of a sinful and messed up world.

Jacob’s name by the end of Genesis was changed to Israel, which means “he struggles with God.” It’s a fitting moniker because the entire life of Jacob and his entire family seems to be one great big struggle.

Rebekah struggles with Isaac. Jacob struggles with Esau. Jacob struggles with Laban. Leah struggles with Rachel. Laban struggles with his daughters. Jacob struggles with his sons. Jacob’s sons struggle with each other.

Sounds for sure like a family Christmas gathering that I do not want to take part in.

With it’s unfiltered, ever-present reality of sin, the story of the founding family of Israel is one of the most compelling and relatable biographies ever written.

After making a complete mess of things, Jacob hits a turning point. In Genesis 32:22-32, we see him wrestle with an angel. Some theologians call this a theophany, an Old Testament appearance of Jesus.

Jacob wrestles all night, but cannot find a way to bend God to his will. He comes away crippled and humbled, but blessed. And his descendants are forever reminded of the divine wrestling match (Hebrews 11:21, Genesis 32:32).

As you read about Israel’s founding family, remember that God was at work in the midst of their bad decisions and messy lives. Their struggles resulted in faith and deliverance. Not just for them, but for the entire world!

Even if we try, we cannot thwart the good purposes of God. This is indeed Good News!

Discussion Questions

  • Describe a time when you felt like you were in a struggle with God.
  • Describe a time when somebody else made a mess of your life.
  • Do you relate to Jacob, Leah, Rachel, or all three of them? How so?
  • Why do you think that people in our culture are obsessed with getting God to do their will instead of his will?
  • How do you think God gives faith in the midst of struggle today?
  • How has your messy life resulted in your faith increasing?
Read Psalm 23
  • What are the important images in Psalm 23?
  • What is the purpose of God’s rod and staff in your life?
  • Why is it significant that God is present in the valley of the shadow of death rather than simply taking David away from the valley?
  • Why are David’s enemies present in his dinner with God?
  • How does this Psalm apply to your life?

Jonathan Pugh

Associate Pastor: Life Groups & Church Partnership
Jonathan Pugh

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