Discussion Questions for Thursday, April 9, pages 57-71 (=Institutes, 3.8.1-6).
  1. Calvin starts by saying that Christians “should prepare themselves for a life that is hard, laborious, troubled, and full of many and various kinds of evil.” Is this how Christianity (or even just spirituality in general) is typically presented in our culture? Why not? 
  2. Why does God test us like this?
  3. How does Christ’s example and life help us here? What does current suffering have to do with “the power of his resurrection” (page 59, citing Philippians 3:10)?
  4. “Sufferings themselves not only become blessings to us, but they also serve to promote our salvation.” Have you or someone you know ever experienced this (59)? 
  5. In what ways do we tend to see in our selves, or in our world, a confidence that “our virtue will remain whole and unconquered in the face of whatever difficulties may come” (60)? How do we “cast ourselves on the grace of God” when he allows suffering to remind us of our weakness (62)?
  6. Calvin says that when we learn to “despair of ourselves,” and therefore rely on God, we come to rely on his grace. And when we do that, we see that “he is true to his promises” (64). What are some of those promises? How have you found them to be true in your own suffering? 
  7. How does suffering produce endurance? Obedience? (64-66)
  8. How is suffering a form of fatherly, loving discipline from the Lord? (70) How is suffering a sign of God’s love for his children?