Discussion Questions for Sarah Bessey: Ordinary Miracles
1. Do you believe in miracles? Author and preacher Sarah Bessey grew up in a tradition that believed not just in the possibility of signs and wonders but an expectation of them. What shaped your beliefs?
2. One of the gifts of Pentecostalism, according to Sarah, is a belief that God longs for our healing. But on the flip side of this theological place lives a belief that if we are not healed, then it must mean we did something wrong. Have you ever experienced this kind of if/then faith? What was the formula you were given for healing?
3. It wasn’t until her dad became very sick and the miracles didn’t appear like her family had hoped that Sarah started seeing healing differently: messy, painful, collaborative, marked from the inside out. When has healing not come as you had hoped? What did you experience instead?
4. When Kate is feeling frustrated by her body, or like “a bag of meat,” Sarah often reminds her, “Yes, but that is also God’s home.” If your body is also God’s home, what kind of home is it? Describe or draw it using all five senses—and with tenderness.
5. Sarah describes a terrible car accident she had years ago as a “slow burn of grief.” Loss after loss reminded her that she was not the person she once was. When have you had to grieve the person you once were to embrace the person you now are?
6. When tragedy struck, both Kate and Sarah had to let go of the notion that they were special—or at least more special than anyone else. For instance, Sarah went from asking “Why me?” to “Why not me?” What’s so comforting about the realization that your suffering is common?
7. Sarah had an undeniable experience of being physically healed when she was invited to the Vatican. And yet she was not healed of everything. She describes living with her other ailments now as living with her companions. What do you make of Sarah’s tricky, beautiful healing story? Do you have a tricky, beautiful healing story of your own to tell?
8. Suffering is particularly hard when there are no landmarks, no horizons, no end game that we can look to when it will all matter. What do you hold onto when certainty is no longer an anchor? What do you let go of when meaning is no longer a lighthouse? How do you hold the hard things with the good things and not let either drown each other out?
9. Sarah loves writing about ordinary suffering and ordinary goodness because it helps her to notice God’s presence among the small things of her own life. How are you noticing the divine in and through your ordinary body?
10. Kate ends this podcast episode with a blessing, “May you be ruthless in your search for goodness and hope and joy, even as your world shrinks. May you know that your very flesh and bones is God’s home. And it is good. As Sarah says, may you learn to look at your own unanswered prayers directly in the eye and pray still.” What unanswered prayer will you pray for still?
Bonus: After listening to this week’s podcast, what part of Kate and Sarah’s conversation resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?
Discussion Questions written by author, editor, and facilitator Erin S. Lane.