“Persecuted But Not Abandoned” Sunday School Lesson

Bible and praying hands behind bars

This free Bible lesson follows our hassle-free format. The basic version makes it easy to teach with very little preparation or outside materials. We’ve also suggested more activities so you can expand the lesson to best fit your ministry setting.

This is part two of a four-part series titled The Hardship and Glory of Service to Christ. (link to series index coming soon) It is a study of 2 Corinthians 3 & 4 designed for older elementary children. Use the optional activities listed below to adapt it for other age groups or ministry settings.

Lesson Title: Persecuted, Not Abandoned
Bible Reference: 2 Corinthians 4:8-12
Target Age Group: 5th – 6th grade
Learning Context: Sunday School or Kids Church
Target Time Frame: 30 minutes

Main Idea:  No matter what we go through for the sake of Christ, God will never abandon us. His death can remind us daily of His great love and forgiveness, while His resurrection reminds us that we have been made new. As Christians, we carry these truths within us, and they provide us with strength and courage to fulfill God’s calling to bring the Gospel to all peoples.

Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Gospel Connection: Because we know that Christ died, we have confidence in His forgiveness of our sins. Because we know that God raised Him from the dead, we know that one day we will also be raised and live with Him for all eternity. Christ died so that we may live. He gives us the strength to endure.

Learning Aim:  Look for the Learning Outcome Test section in our Basic Teaching Plan below.

Basic Supply List:

  • Bible
  • Five notecards with the following words written on each one: I WILL NEVER ABANDON YOU.
  • Marker board (or poster sheet) with the memory verse written out.
  • A copy of the Scripture passage for each student; they will be marking portions during the study.
  • An equal number of black trash bags and white trash bags, one of each for every student.
  • Other supplies may be needed for the optional activities. Please read them carefully if you plan to add them to the lesson plan.

Other Notes: In the teaching plan below the words in italics are meant to be read aloud. The regular text is simply directions for the teacher.

> > > > Basic Teaching Plan < < < <

Discover the Truth

One essential truth from today’s Scripture passage is that God will never abandon us. Write each of the following words on 5 notecards and hide them throughout the room before your students arrive: I WILL NEVER ABANDON YOU. After they arrive, gather them around you. SAY: I have hidden 5 notecards around the room. Each notecard has one word on it. Together, these notecards will form an essential truth from our lesson today. Your mission is to find all of the notecards, put them in the correct order, and discover this truth! And…..you only have 5 minutes to do so! Ready…set…go!

ASK: Who do you think this promise is from? [God] Paul reveals to the believers this amazing truth today. Let’s dive into the passage together and discover more of God’s awesome truth!

Introduce the Scripture Passage:

Ask for volunteers to read 2 Corinthians 4:8-12. Each verse is written out in the NASB to make things easy; feel free to use the translation of your choice.

Verse by Verse Explanation & Discussion

Give each student a copy of the 7 verses. Ask them to look at each verse as you go through and discuss them, highlighting/writing things they want to remember.

  • vv.8-9 “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” SAY: These first two verses describe Paul’s personal experience. He knew exactly what he was talking about! What are some of the contrasts he talks about in this verse? What do you think he is getting at? He had been “afflicted in every way,” “perplexed,” “persecuted,” and “struck down!” But Paul had never been crushed, driven to despair, abandoned, or destroyed!  The unbelievers were probably pointing fingers at him and the other disciples, saying, “See! Look what following Christ has got you! You are foolish!” But Paul is pointing out to them that no matter what they are put through, even the worst possible thing, God will always be there. He has never and will never abandon them!
  •  v.10 “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” SAY: When Paul says “carrying about in the body the death of Jesus” he is referring to sharing in the death of Jesus through being persecuted for sharing the Gospel. Paul saw the end-that to suffer for Christ meant to one day be glorified with Christ (Rom. 8:17). As Christ’s death is the way to true and eternal life, we know that the resurrection will be to us the end of all sorrows. In this world we die as He died. But one day we shall rise as He rose and live with Him forever. What affect do you think this hope would have on Paul?  (Endurance, joy despite the suffering, it gives him the strength to continue sharing even in suffering.)
  • V. 11 “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” Activity: Have the students put on the white trash bags and then the black trash bags over the white.
  • SAY: Paul and others with him were openly attacked by the anger of the unbelievers. They were being “given over to death” in that they were constantly harassed with persecutions and exposed to dangers. For us, we also have death constantly before us, for one day we will all die. We also experience the death of loved ones and friends. We have to live in such a manner that our lives display Christ. When we suffer, our minds should be set on the eternal, and our goal should be to glorify God.
  • The black trash bag represents our suffering. The white represents Christ. We wear the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed to everyone. [Repeat] We wear the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed to everyone. Say this with me! We wear the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed to everyone! Let’s say this again, and as we say it, I want you to rip open the black trash bags. We wear the death of Jesus, so that…(rip the black bags, revealing the white)…the life of Jesus may be revealed to everyone! When we suffer in order to glorify Him, He is displayed for everyone to see.
  • V. 12 “So death works in us, but life in you.” SAY: The believers in the Corinthian church were not yet suffering as severely as Paul and the apostles. In comparison to them, some Christians were even thriving. Paul is telling them that the suffering he and other followers of Christ are facing each day is for them, so that they may continue to worship Christ and have new life through following Him. Their suffering promotes the glory of Christ and salvation, so that all people may know Him! Even though suffering gives us an opportunity to glorify and share Christ, it is often really hard for us to do. Why do you think this is? (A lot of times we love our comfort more than we love the glory of Christ.  Also, we fail to really believe that He is with us, even in suffering.)

Gospel Application:

SAY: Without the truth of the Gospel, we would be despairing. We would be destroyed. But because we know that Christ died, we have confidence in His forgiveness of our sins. Because we know that God raised Him from the dead, we know that one day we will also be raised and live with Him for all eternity. Christ died so that we may live. Paul and the other Christians suffered so that many may have new life in Christ. They carried within them the truth of the Gospel, the New Covenant. This truth gave them strength, courage, and passion to press on despite their severe suffering. We too can press through any and every trial so that Christ may be glorified in our lives, looking forward to the day we are glorified with Him.

Conclusion

SAY: We do not know what it is like to be in danger on a daily basis. But we do go through very difficult times. We do face the death of people we care about it. We do have to one day die. But, no matter what we go through, God does not abandon us! He is there and He is in control. We can trust in Him to always be faithful. He is our faithful, good, sovereign God who loves you immensely. We can also have confidence that if we are in Christ, there is life after death. We will one day be glorified with Christ and all the miseries of the world will be no more! This hope allows us to keep on keeping on when everything seems to be crashing down around us.

Learning Outcome Test: Discuss difficulties (past or present) that your students have gone/are going through. If you have a larger class, break into small groups of 4 or 5. Get to know your students. Many of them may have gone through some very difficult times. They may be having trouble seeing God in their situation. They have lost hope completely. They may feel abandoned. As they share, ask them how today’s Scripture speaks to what they are going through. Allow them to think and speak truth to each other first. Then bring out some truths, such as: Christ has suffered on our behalf; He knows what pain and abandonment feel like, and He is always present. We are called to suffer in this life, and in our suffering we are carrying about the death of Christ. But in our response and in our hope His life can be manifested. When we are His, we have His light to push away all darkness. We have a hand always ready to hold our own. We have His arms always waiting for us to fall into. We are never abandoned. See trials as opportunities to glorify God, spread His name, and look forward to a day of no more tears.

Pray together.

> > > > Optional Activities < < < < <

The following suggestions will help you expand and customize our basic lessons. We always value your opinion, so leave a comment and help make this resource better for other readers.

Memory verse: Ask for a volunteer to read the memory verse aloud from the marker board. Work on memorizing it together. Use any of our creative methods for memorizing Scripture.

Further Study: Consider reading specific descriptions of what Paul endured in II Corinthians 11:24-28.

Craft: Have the students trace each other on butcher paper. Then instruct them to draw pictures on their bodies that remind them of the death and life of Jesus (based on verse 10, “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body”). They could also do this on a smaller scale by drawing themselves on a normal sheet of paper.

Spreading the Gospel: Ask your students to think of ways they can share the great truth of the New Covenant to others. Have them write their ideas on a marker board. Discuss fears in sharing the Gospel. Ask: Why do you think we are so afraid to share this light of the knowledge of the glory of God? Remind your students that unbelievers respond in negative ways because the veil has not been removed from their hearts. They are blind to the truth. Because our hearts have been unveiled, we know God is the One, true God and can have confidence in standing for Him as we spread His Word.

Worship: Learn the song May Your Power Rest on Me, by Sojourn, written by Joel Gerdis and Neil Robins:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AiJBDSeJOU

Declaring the Truth: Discuss a few specific scenarios the students may face in their lifetimes or have already faced (divorce, a loved one dying, bullies in school, etc.) Have them describe their feelings in each circumstance, focusing on the lies Satan would like them to believe. Then have them replace this lie with truth from today’s lesson. Declare each lie out loud, saying together “I feel _____”. Then say together the truth, “But the truth is _____!”

For example, in the case of divorce,

  • “I feel alone.”
  • “But the truth is…God never abandons me!”
  • Or in sharing the Gospel…
  • “I feel afraid to share the Gospel.”
  • “The truth is…glorifying Christ is all that matters; He will give me courage!”

SAY: When we respond to these situations with truth, it gives us the opportunity to display the life of Christ! When others see you respond in obedience to Christ when you are at your lowest place in life, it glorifies Him! It is living in obedience!

Real Life Application: Share a story of a missionary who died for the Gospel (Jim Elliot is a great example) or who is in danger today in countries where it is illegal to share the Gospel. If you have someone at your church who has been in real danger for their faith, have them speak to your class. This will help them see that the persecution is still very real in other parts of the world. Pray for the missionaries together, for their safety, continued courage, and steadfast hope in the truth that God will never abandon them as they are spreading the Gospel of Christ.


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