August 25–26 Processing Pain

Aug 25–26 Processing Pain

Welcome to week four of our sermon series on Psalms called the Poetry of Trust. This week we will look at three phases of processing pain from the past, through the present and into the future.


Building healthy and life-giving relationships.


What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.

Share Part of Your Story

What was one of your favorite back-to-school traditions as a kid?


This week’s conversation may bring up some difficult times in our lives. If something serious surfaces, please feel free to reach out to your small groups pastor or director for a care meeting, counseling referral or prayer.


Taking next steps toward Christ together.

Read Psalm 137.  What emotions do you see? What is your initial reaction to this Psalm?

The Past

Israel has been through decades of difficulty. What are some of the things the author and audience have experienced?

It appears from this Psalm that the captives hid their musical instruments so they didn’t have to play anymore. What do you think were their reasons for doing that? How do you think they felt?

We’ve all encountered deep hurt in our past that caused us to want to shut down or build walls against future pain. What are some common ways people are hurt today and how do they try to protect themselves?

The Israelites got to the point where they stopped singing. What was a time in your past that you wanted to stop feeling or “stop singing?”

The Present

In Psalm 137:5–6, the Psalmist begins to make vows. We often make positive or negative vows too. What are some vows people make because of pain they’ve gone through (I’ll never…)? How often do you think this is an unconscious decision?

While we make vows to protect ourselves, they can often hurt us. How can making these kinds of pledges act as walls to keep others out and be a negative factor in our life? How have you seen this play out in the lives of those around you?

The pain we’ve experienced often leads us to make these kinds of promises to ourselves. Is there any way you see yourself doing this?

Now that we’ve vulnerably shared some past hurts in our group, what’s a next step we can take to encourage each other to grow and have joy in spite of this pain? How can you pray to ask God to change your heart to trust in God’s love, presence and protection?

The psalmist doesn’t let the struggle bring him down and instead sees that a better option, even in the midst of pain, is to make positive vows. What choices can we make to rejoice in the rubble of our lives? How have you been able to do this in the past? How have you seen someone else do this well?

The Future

Psalm 137:9 is a gruesome verse and challenging to read, but yet an important part of this song. The writer relinquishes his need to get even. Instead, he asks God for justice. Why is this a significant conversation to have with God?

Everyone wants justice for others but forgiveness for themselves. How does remembering that we’ve created rubble for others and we need God’s forgiveness too help us forgive others?

Discuss this statement: The most defining moment in our life is not what happened to us; the most defining moment in our life is what happened for us.

This week we talked about pain we have experienced, the ways we often respond to it and how Jesus’ sacrifice should factor into that. Which of these areas do you need to take a next step in this week and what is one way you can grow in that area this week?


Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.

Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.

Group Growth

As we near the fall and the launch of our series A Doubters Guide to Jesus, is there someone who needs what your group has? Maybe a friend, co-worker or someone you volunteer with. Consider who you could invite to go through the fall series with your group.

Download a printable PDF here.