Two battles with breast cancer grew newswoman Brenda Ladun’s faith, and her news platform gave her the chance to share her faith journey with her audience. She’s embraced the chance to encourage others, and in in her book Encouraged, shares profound, God-given insights of finding peace in the storm.
Questions for Discussion
- Throughout the book, Brenda shares real stories about people she’s encountered in her work and in her personal relationships who’ve battled depression, suicide, tragic accidents, homelessness, fire, divorce (and of course her own cancer), and how they leaned on God during their storms. Was there a particular story of a struggle that resonated with you? Which one and why?
- In Chapter 1, Ladun says, “When bad things happen, they come in droves.” People have the sense that when it rains, it pours. Can you think of a time when one bad thing after another seemed to happen in your day or in your life? In light of Ephesians 6:10–18 and the fact that we’re part of a larger story, how can you fight through those bad things?
- Ladun notes in Chapter 1 that through all of her life, “no matter whether the news is bad or good—even if there’s no news at all—the Lord is walking with me every step of the way.” What are some ways that you’ve sensed or known God’s presence with you through tragedy and trial? In joy? In the mundane?
- Ladun says, “Before I had cancer, things like hair, makeup, furniture, new clothes, and sending my kids to the right summer camps were extremely important to me.” Can you give some personal examples of how storms have changed your perspective on your life and your world view? Is the change for the better or worse?
- In Chapter 6, the author talks about memorizing emergency Scriptures that you can immediately call to mind in a trial. What are some Scriptures that you have turned to in trials? If you feel comfortable sharing, what was the trial, and how did the Scripture minister to you?
- Chapter 7 focuses on the importance of having community in trials, and later the author talks about the “chemo community” who form bonds while getting treatments. Discuss how your communities (church, support groups, small groups, friends, family) have helped you through trials. Have any of them gone through trials similar to yours? Did those who experienced similar struggles support you differently than those who hadn’t? Discuss 2 Corinthians 1:3–4.
- In Chapter 8, the author asks, “Is the fight to be the best _______ keeping you from glorifying God?” Can you identify anything consuming your time, your attention, your worry? What do you need to surrender to the Lord?
- In Chapter 9, Ladun talks about how to exercise your faith by letting go and turning everything over to God. Are we really in control of our lives, or is that control an illusion? Discuss some ways you can practice turning things over to God in areas where you try to maintain control.
- Chapter 10 discusses some instances of God’s miraculous intervention. Think over the course of your and your family’s lives—childhood until now. Were there any inexplicable or unlikely answers to prayer or solutions to problems? How does calling these to mind and hearing them from others affect your faith?
- To finish the discussion time, ask if anyone would like to share any area of the book that the Holy Spirit used to encourage them. What did He say? How will they use that moving forward?
- Chapter 4 discusses storms from sin—different than storms that happen to us; these are storms resulting from our own sins of disobedience (unforgiveness, envy, etc.). Jesus died so that we can be free of these sins and the storms they cause. Humble yourself, and ask the Spirit to help you identify sins—which we all have from time to time—that may be causing storms in your life. Repent and ask Him to replace those sins with trust in His goodness.
- Chapter 5 notes, “There is power in prayer. Pray for yourself, your family, and even for people who hurt you.” During storms, you can make a “battle plan” for your prayer life. Pick a time (early morning, after everyone is in bed, the drive to work, etc.) and a place, make a list, and pour your anxieties and concerns out to the Father. Praise Him for His goodness!
- In Chapter 5, the author notes, “When you help others, you help yourself!” Getting your mind off your own storm and pouring into others is a blessing. Think of someone you know who is suffering or going through a trial. Make it a point to pray for them daily. If you can, find an appropriate, practical way to reach out, such as dropping notes in the mail, bringing them a meal, or providing childcare.
- In Chapter 6, the author provides a personalized version of the 10 Commandments, written in first person. Find a Scripture (or several) that speaks to your storm. Write it on an index card, and pray it out loud throughout the day to give you strength. Just a few examples are 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 51:12, and Psalm 126:5.