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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 40 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 7: Indestructible Hope *
Introduction: My daughter and I were recently discussing depression
and suicide. I told her that if I ever got to the point of thinking
I should kill myself because of my problems, I would simply move to
Florida and hire on as some sort of helper on a boat. I remember the
days when I had a simple job - I would just go back to something like
that in a place with sun and nice weather. That answer did not
impress my daughter as a potential global solution for depression and
suicide. Her response was that depression causes some sort of mist
of darkness to settle over you so that you cannot see out of it. You
cannot imagine the sunny boat in Florida. It seemed to me the
difference between the two views was hope. (Not that my understanding
of depression was realistic!) I had hope in my solution and she
described a situation without hope. Our lesson this week is about
hope, so let's hopefully dive right in!
- Two Types of Hope
- Read Romans 5:1-2. These two verses trace a path to
rejoicing, what is it? (If we understand and believe in
righteousness by faith in Jesus, that (first) gives us
peace. It doesn't stop there. That peace leads (second)to
"hope in the glory of God." I think the glory of God is
our expectation of heaven, life made new, and eternal
companionship with God. That spiritual hope gives us joy.)
- Read Romans 5:3. Apparently, spiritual hope is the not
the end of the picture of our life. What enters into our
life that creates problems? (Suffering.)
- Read Romans 5:3-5. What can be the outcome of suffering?
(Paul tells us that suffering can produce perseverance,
that can lead to an improved character, that improved
character can produce hope.)
- What kind of hope is this? Is it the same as the
spiritual hope ("hope in the glory of God") that we
learned about in Romans 5:1-2? (I think we are
discussing two somewhat different concepts. The
first two verses of Romans 5 teach us that we can
have joy waiting for our eternal reward. But, in the
meantime, we live in the third verse of Romans 5 -
which is the daily "suffering" in life. That
suffering can also lead to hope, but it seems that
this is not so much a hope for heaven, but a hope
that exists "because God has poured out His love into
- Read Romans 5:6-8. Has Paul moved on to another topic, or
is this discussion linked to Romans 5:3-5? (It is a
further explanation. Our hope in our suffering is God's
love. God's love for us is shown by His willingness to
die for us.)
- Notice what is going on here. When it comes to the "hope"
of Romans 5:1-2, we see the logical solution of heaven -
living beyond the problems of this world. But, the hope
of Romans 5:3-5, the hope for people suffering right now,
is that God suffered for them - proving His love. This is
not a "logical" cure for suffering. It simply says (in
case you doubt because of your suffering) God loves you!
He has not left you, He has not deserted you, He died for
- Job's Hope
- Read Job 1:1, 8-12. How did this blameless and upright
man get into trouble? (By being blameless and upright! It
was because of a contest between God and Satan that
trouble started for Job.)
- The book of Job consists of the human quest for an
explanation for suffering. Job's friends accuse him of
wrongdoing - which caused his suffering. Job denies that
he did anything to deserve this and asks to confront God
so that he can be heard on the injustice of his situation.
Read Job 38:1-3. God finally shows, but instead of
debating Job, He tells Job He wants Job to answer a few
questions. Does that seem fair and loving to you?
- Read Job 38:4-7. The rest of that chapter and Job
chapters 39-41 are all along the same line of logic. What
argument is God making to Job? (I'm God and you are not!
Who are you to question Me!)
- Read Job 40:1-2. If you were Job and you were suffering,
would this be an encouraging answer from God?
- Read Job 40:3-5 and Job 42:1-6. Apparently that was enough
of an answer for Job! How does this answer fit what Paul
tells us in Romans 5:3-6 that the hope in our suffering is
God's love poured out on us? (The two texts fit because in
neither case does God explain the reason for the
suffering. In Romans 5 God says "I love you, and I
suffered death for you." In Job 38-41 God says "I'm God
and you are not. Consider whose judgment you are
- It would have been so simple for God to explain exactly
what was going on in Job's case. He never did explain it
to Job. Why didn't He? (Job is a perfect lesson for us.
We have the curtain pulled back and we see the reasons for
Job's terrible suffering. These are reasons Job would
never have guessed. However, God never discloses those
reasons to Job - He just tells him "Trust Me, I'm God."
Since we have the entire picture of Job's situation, we
can see that God is right. However, like Job, we generally
do not have the entire picture concerning our personal
suffering. What gives us hope is knowing that God was
acting reasonably with Job, and He was acting with
incredible love for us when He died for us.)
- Do you need to have the specific answer for your suffering
to have hope? Do you need to know the specific reason for
your suffering?(Just knowing that a loving, caring,
logical God is in charge should be enough.)
- Realistic Hope
- Read Jeremiah 29:1-3. What kind of tragedy and suffering
lies behind these words? (God's people had been defeated
by the Babylonians. Their temple had been destroyed,
Jerusalem had been destroyed and most of the people were
taken captive to Babylon.)
- Imagine that your country was defeated in battle,
your home destroyed and you and your family taken
captive and dragged to the land of your enemy.
- How would you feel? (My life would be completely
turned upside down! Nothing that I enjoyed in
the past would be part of my life now.)
- What would your thoughts be if you believed that
God was the head of your country - and the
people who had just captured you were pagans
(see Habakkuk 1:1-7) who were opposed to your
God? (How could God allow this? Surely, He
would correct this.)
- Read Jeremiah 29:4-9. What does God mean when He says "do
not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you?"
(Some were saying that God was going to fix the problem
- How would you describe God's "solution" to this
terrible problem? (Make the best of it. Take your new
situation and try to make your life as normal as
possible. When God says "seek the prosperity of the
city to which I have carried you," I think He is
saying "Look ahead, not back. Don't pine for the old
days, do your best to create good days in your new
- Would this advice apply to our sufferings today?
(Some people pine for how things were in the past. In
this particular situation God promised that He would
"fix" the problem in the future by returning His
people to their homes - 70 years in the future!
( Jeremiah 29:10). This was obviously "too late" for
these people. Their children or grandchildren would
be rescued. God has a timing in mind for everything.
Instead of moaning about our situation and wishing
for yesterday, we need to make the best of today
knowing that God loves us and He will ultimately make
things right in the world.)
- Friend, suffering of some sort will be a part of your life
at some time. God promises us eternal life. But, He does
not promise us that He will explain or fix our problems
right now. Sometimes He just says, "I love you absolutely,
trust that I know what I'm doing." Sometimes He says,
"Make the best of your situation." Will you rest in the
hope that God loves and cares for you? Whether He fixes
the problems in this world (and your life) now or later,
He will always do what is best. We can be sure of that
because He died for us. There is no greater love and
compassion than that!
- Next week: Seeing the Invisible.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.