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Sabbath School Lessons on The Bible and Human Emotions
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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 38 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 8: Resilience *
Introduction: Many people alive today have had a relatively easy
life. Imagine what it was like to be a young person in Europe 100
years ago. You would experience, if you survived, two major wars. My
dear father grew up in a poor family during the Great Depression,
and then was drafted into the army during World War II. He found
himself part of the invasion of Normandy and spent 33 months in a
war zone. Many people of that generation had a similar experience.
What if your life seemed destined for especially unfavorable
treatment? Would you be able to "bounce back?" Would you show
resilience? Let's dive into our Bible study and see what we can
learn from those who faced difficult times!
- Read Genesis 37:3, Genesis 39:6, and Genesis 37:5-7. What
kind of attitude about life do you think Joseph
possessed? (He was clearly superior. First, he was part
of a wealthy family. He was better-looking than most
others and he was favored by his father. God sent him
dreams that he would be a ruler. He had constant
reinforcement about his own importance.)
- Read Genesis 37:28. Review the things that made Joseph
special, and tell me how many are left after he had been
sold as a slave? (He has his good looks. He has lost the
support of his family, he has lost his wealth and status.
Instead of a future as a ruler, he has much to fear in
his future as a foreign slave. He has his God, but His
God has not kept him from this!)
- Read Genesis 39:17-20. Compare Joseph's dreams, hopes and
plans as a young man, with his present reality - a slave
imprisoned for attempted rape. Could things get any
worse? (He has lost everything. He is at the bottom, not
- Read Genesis 41:14-15. If you were Joseph, would you feel
that this was your one great chance to turn your
miserable life around?
- Read Genesis 41:16. Is this how you would have answered
if you were Joseph?
- Hasn't Joseph had enough of humility? Why should he
start out with "I cannot do it?" (It shows his
continuing faith and dependence on God.)
- Would you still trust in God if you had been through
all of these problems?
- Put yourself in Joseph's head. To be able to
still trust God, what would you have to
believe? That God has a strange way of
rewarding His followers? (If we had read the
entire story, we would have seen that Joseph
does well even when he suffers a serious set
back. But, aside from those brief favorable
experiences, Joseph has to believe that faith
in God is not dependant upon his success in
life. It is not dependant upon visible rewards.
Faith is about God, not about Joseph.)
- Read Genesis 41:39-40. Why does Pharaoh start out with a
reference to Joseph's God? Why not start out "You are
fabulous at interpreting dreams, Joseph! I need to keep
you around the palace." (If Joseph had tried to take
credit, Pharaoh would have thought Joseph a bright and
perceptive fellow. But, because Joseph gives all the
credit and glory to God, Pharaoh believes that Joseph is
the portal to access the power of a new and incredibly
powerful God. Pharaoh is getting more than just a
- What lesson does Joseph's story teach us about how to
deal with incredible problems? (Faith is about who God
is, and not about how we are doing. Holding on to God,
even when God's interest is not obvious, is the key to
resilience. God asks us to trust Him and trust His
- Read Romans 5:1-5. What does faith in our salvation do
for us? (It gives us "peace with God" and joy in our
ultimate hope. It is the platform from which we view all
other experiences in life.)
- How are the kind of problems that Joseph faced
helpful to us? (Problems teach us resilience. They
develop our character. They give us hope.)
- Hope in what? In Romans 5:1 we are talking
about the hope of eternal life. Is Paul talking
about the same hope in Romans 5:4? (Yes. First,
seeing God work through our problems gives us
confidence that He will give us eternal life.
Second, dealing with problems makes eternal
life (where problems will not exist) even more
- Have you ever had more pleasure in the
anticipation of something, than the actual
event? (Heaven will be more than we can
imagine. But, hope in heaven can give us
- I've suggested a couple of times that faith is
about God, not about you. Is that what Paul
says? (Grace is about us! God died for us.
Knowing that God conquered sin and death gives
us hope in the midst of our sufferings.)
- How do you understand Romans 5:5? Hope in eternal
life is our long-term goal. What does God's love and
the Holy Spirit have to do with that? (We are able
to have proof of heaven now by the working of the
Holy Spirit in our life. God's love, through the
power of the Holy Spirit, is poured into our
- Read Genesis 45:4-7. Has God's love been poured into
- Educated Suffering
- Read 2 Corinthians 1:2. What does Paul wish for the
Christians at Corinth? (Grace and peace.)
- Read 2 Corinthians 1:3. What is God's role in helping us
when we suffer? (God has compassion on us. God is the
ultimate source of all comfort.)
- Read 2 Corinthians 1:4-5. Have you ever considered your
problems to be an education?
- How can problems help us to comfort others? (If we
learn from our problems, we can teach others who
face the same problems. Notice that the text says
that God's comfort to us in difficult times allows
us to comfort others.)
- Are your sufferings anything like what Jesus
suffered at the cross? (Paul makes that parallel. He
says that just like Jesus' suffering blesses your
life, so your suffering can bless the lives of
- Read Esther 2:5-7. List the problems in Esther's young
life? (Her parents had died. She was raised by a
Mordecai, a male relative - so it seems she did not have
a woman in her life. She was also a Jewish captive.)
- Read Esther 2:8-10. In Esther 2:1-4 we are told that King
Xerxes is running the first "Bachelor" contest. The
authorities have entered Esther into this contest. Why
did Mordecai not allow Esther to reveal her nationality?
(She was Jewish - one of the captives.)
- What does this show us about Mordecai's interest in
the bachelor contest? (He wants Esther to win!)
- Read Esther 2:17-18. Is Esther like Joseph? (Yes. She
gets promoted to the top after being at the bottom.)
- Esther chapter 3 records that a high noble in the court
of King Xerxes hates Mordecai. To get rid of Mordecai, he
engineered a law which would allow him to kill all the
Jews on the 13th day of Adar. Mordecai turned to Queen
Esther for help. Read Esther 4:10. Will Esther help? (She
seems to be saying it is too dangerous.)
- Read Esther 4:12-14. Do you think Esther's life was
really in danger? (I doubt it, unless Mordecai has been
given a prophesy from God.)
- Was Esther in a position similar to that of Joseph?
(Yes, she could save the lives of many.)
- How was Esther's situation different than that of
Joseph? (They both suffered. They both were elevated
to a very high post. But, in saving others Esther
had to risk her life and her position.)
- Read Esther 4:15-16. What does Esther teach us about
resilience? (The goal of resilience is not to achieve
power and wealth like Joseph - although that might
happen. The goal of resilience is to remain faithful to
God so that you can bless others. This is one of the
things 2 Corinthians 1:4 teaches us.)
- Do you see a parallel between Esther and Jesus? (She put
her life on the line to save the lives of others. Again,
this is what we discussed earlier in 2 Corinthians 1:5-6:
our suffering may end up being a blessing for others!)
- Friend, if you are suffering today, I invite you to ask
God to give you resilience and help you see how your
suffering can bless others.
- Next week: Self-Esteem.
* Copr. 2011, 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.