This reading group guide for Scarred Faith includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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God is present at all times. This does not mean that he will shield you from life’s painful experiences, but he will be with you through it all. The story of scripture depicts a scar-filled world, but it also hangs its existence on the hope that God is at work to repair our brokenness. It is up to us not just to observe it, but to participate in the greater story of restoration. It is this partnership that makes our doubts and pain allies of deep faith, as we open our hearts to allow God’s redeeming work in spite of and through the questions. Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. When Jenny’s health was deteriorating Josh’s mom urged those who had gathered in the hospital not to get upset and, “serve any other gods.” (p. 30) Have you ever been tempted to serve another god during a challenging time? If so, how did you work through the struggle? If not, what kept you from going down that path?
2. Josh talks about asking God to intervene and save Jenny, but ultimately, she slips away. When have you prayed for something that you feel went unanswered? Did you ever find peace or see that God answered in a different way than expected?
3. On p. 41, Josh asks the question, “What does it mean to be a disciple when we don’t get our way?” Have you ever been tempted to “unfollow” Jesus, as some of his disciples did when they realized the journey would be different than they expected? What are some lessons you have learned along the way about surrender?
4. What do you think the Ross family’s use of CarePages (pp. 43–45) says about the connection between suffering and community?
5. How do you feel about the song that Josh’s family posted while they were grieving over Jenny’s death? Can you relate to the sentiments expressed in the lyrics?
6. Josh comments that “Maybe we force others into celebratory moods when many need to know that God can meet them where they are.” (p. 48) What was a time in your life when you needed the God who meets you where you are? How was this healing in its own way?
7. In one of Josh’s journal entries after Jenny’s death, he bares his anger and frustration with God. Have you ever felt anger like that toward God? Did you allow yourself to share your anger with Him?
8. Why do you think Josh felt he needed God to “cry with him?” (p. 61) How do you think this helped him during this difficult time?
9. Josh describes how his baptism makes him a “participant in the rhythm of creation” (p. 94) and how this no longer allows him to push aside the brokenness he sees around him. What does it mean to be a “participant,” and do you see yourself in this way?
10. How would you describe what it means to ra’ah (pp. 104–105)? Have you ever experienced a moment when you felt you’ve “seen” the world?
11. In Chapter 10, Josh talks about how stepping into the suffering of the world can result in persecution, but it also allows you to see God moving. Have you been hanging back or stepping into the suffering in your community? How have you seen a glimpse of God’s redemptive work?
12. Reflect on your own story. Can you see God’s presence in your life when you reflect upon your emotional, spiritual, or physical scars? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Josh uses the example of the song his friends wrote—“Some Explaining to Do”—to describe how he and his family felt after Jenny’s death. (pp. 45–46). The song is sometimes controversial and asks God for answers, but Josh writes that it helped him and his family deal with their suffering. Write and share a poem or song to express how you’ve felt in the middle of a difficult time.
2. Similar to what Josh had to do in seminary, come up with your own metaphor to describe your faith, and share and discuss with your book club members.
3. As the Rwandan pastor shared, “once you’ve been swallowed up in pain, you can’t help but want to see the pain and suffering of others alleviated.” (p. 132) As a group, commit to a number of community service or volunteer hours to accomplish over a year, and plan volunteer activities that can be accomplished together as a group.