God’s Plans For Us – Lesson 13: Resilience

Key Scriptures: Joshua 6, Mark 8:32, Mark 14:30, Luke 22:61-62, Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 17:4, Ephesians 6:10, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:13, John 16:33, Galatians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Philippians 3:14, Romans 5:1-5, James 1:12

Guided Question: What will our lives look like if we have godly resiliency?

Optional Introductory Activity: Bring in one or more unsolvable puzzles. (Here is a link for some possibilities. Note: This is not an endorsement of the website or the puzzles.)

Allow students a few minutes to work on their puzzles. It should be enough time for most of them to realize the puzzles are difficult or impossible. Stop their attempts and ask them how they felt working on the puzzle. Ask if any of them were ready to quit. If they are willing to share, have them tell why they were tempted to quit.

Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) When we say someone is resilient, what do we usually mean? The dictionary defines resilience as the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, to spring back into “shape”. In other words, it’s the ability to bounce back to your normal self after facing hardships, mishaps, trouble or defeat. Why do you think it might be important for a Christian to be resilient?

The Old Testament has a great story about being resilient. Read Joshua chapter 6. The Israelites had been through a few tough decades. What should have been a rather short journey through the desert from the Red Sea to the Promised Land had been lengthened by their sins.

They had endured hunger, thirst, heat, wandering, punishments – even watching the older generation die off as punishment for their lack of faith in God. Now they were finally going to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land! With God’s miracle, they had been able to cross the Jordan River, but now they couldn’t just settle into their new home. They had to battle an enemy – actually lots of enemies.

It might have been tempting to give up, but maybe seeing God’s miracle at the Jordan River, being reminded of God’s presence and finally having their feet in the Promised Land (not to mention no more manna, but lots of “real” food!) gave them the ability to be resilient.

What did they have to do to conquer Jericho? The Bible doesn’t tell us if anyone complained or questioned what Joshua told them to do. Maybe they were so ready, they didn’t complain for once. What do you think your reaction would have been after marching around the city for a day and seeing that nothing happened? What about on the second day? Or the fifth? Or the Sixth? What would you have thought on day seven when Joshua changed the instructions for the march?

The Israelites needed to be resilient. They needed to get back up each morning and do exactly what Joshua told them to do. Day after day for an entire week. But conquering Jericho, wasn’t the end of their journey either. The rest of the book of Joshua is filled with all of the other battles they had to fight before they were finally allowed to settle down in the Promised Land. In a way, Jericho was a tiny test of the resilient nature they would need to continue fighting for some time to come.

Peter is surprisingly also a person with resilience. Think about it. Peter is part of probably a great fishing business. Then Jesus comes along and changes everything. Peter is excited about following the Messiah. In his excitement, Peter tends to say and do things without thinking them through first. Which means he makes mistakes. A lot of them. What are some of the mistakes Peter made? (Mark 8:32, Mark 14:30, Luke 22:61-62, Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 17:4)

Yet, with the help of Jesus, Peter later became the strong Christian preacher and writer we know from Acts and 1 and 2 Peter. Peter was resilient. He made mistakes – big ones. Jesus rebuked him. Peter felt guilty about denying Christ. Yet, he never quit following Jesus. He never quit trying to obey God. After the Church began, Peter never stopped serving others and sharing his faith – even though he later died a horrible death for it.

Being resilient isn’t easy. When we make mistakes or when we sin, it can be easy to get discouraged. We may think we are tired of struggling to do what God wants us to do. Or maybe we are tired of doing what God asks us to do, when being disobedient seems easier.

Thankfully, God knows it can be tough to be a resilient Christian. So, He gives us a lot of great things to think about when we are tempted to just give up on being a Christian or on the life He wants for us. Read each of these scriptures. What does each teach us about being resilient? Ephesians 6:10, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:13, John 16:33, Galatians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Philippians 3:14, Romans 5:1-5, James 1:12

When are some times when it is tough for you to be resilient as a Christian? What do you do to be resilient when you are tempted to quit doing what you know God wants you to do? How can these verses make it easier for you to be resilient?

Skills Activity: Review key principles from the lesson. Explain to students that in order to be resilient they need a “tool box” – things they can do to help them be resilient when they are tempted to quit because it seems too hard to live a Christian life.

Divide students into groups of two or three. Have them think of items they need in their “tool box” to help them be more resilient. Encourage them to find scriptures to confirm (or not!) that their ideas are godly.

Have the groups share their responses to develop a class “tool box”. Some items you may want to include are:

  • Study scripture. Not only will this help them know what God wants them to do, it may also help them understand why it’s important to keep doing it. Continued study will also help them mature in their faith and make them less vulnerable when there are tough times.
  • Pray. Talking to God can help remind them God is there with them through those tough times. It is also a great way of releasing all of the stress and anxiety in our bodies and minds to God.
  • Be aware if God is trying to move you along His path. Sometimes tough times happen because of our sin. There are often earthly consequences for sin. Being aware that we need to make changes in our lives and repent can help us avoid other negative consequences from continuing in that sin.
  • Serve others and share your faith. Lack of resiliency causes us to sit still and not want to move. Fighting that urge and continuing to do good works and share our faith can help us be more resilient.
  • Remember why God created you. It’s easy to think we have no worth when times are tough. Remembering God created you and loves you can help. Worshipping God can change your perspective. It also helps to remember God has good works He has planned for you and He wants you to do them.
  • Remember to be hopeful. We have hope on this earth, because we know what is to come. God doesn’t want us to try and rush to Heaven – there are still things on earth He wants you to do. But our focus isn’t on the bad things in our world. It is on the good things and on our bright eternal future.
  • Take care of your health. Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Eat healthy foods. Find a hobby. Laugh. It’s hard to be resilient when you feel bad physically. Taking good care of your body will make it easier to endure those tough times.

Have students find scriptures or think of people in the Bible who used these ideas. Have them create a work of art that will help others how to have godly resilience. They can use the tool box motif if they like or something else. Allow them to use their own talent or for those who feel less artistic – let them make collages from old magazines. Display their art where other members in your church can see it. Encourage members to ask students what they have learned and/or share their own stories of how their faith helped them to be resilient in a tough time in their own lives.

Application Challenge: Read several chapters in the book of Joshua. How did the Israelites maintain their resilient attitude (or not) in the various conflicts that happened? Are there any more lessons you can learn from these chapters? Think about the last tough time you experienced or the one in which you are currently experiencing. How resilient were/are you? What can you change so you are more resilient? How can you remind yourself to do the things you need to do to be more resilient?

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