This Sunday School lesson will help children begin a discussion and gain understanding to the Lord’s desire to use hard times in their lives to strengthen them and teach them more about Himself and to strengthen their trust in the Lord. This lesson is based on James 1:1-4 and can be used for Sunday School or Children’s Church.
Bible Truth: God has a purpose for our tough times.
Scripture: James 1:1-4
Target Age Group: Age 7 – 12 (U.S. 1st – 6th Grade)
Original Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 30 minutes
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Supply List: Bible, marker board to write answers to discussion questions
Learning Goal: After this lesson, children will be able to explain some reasons the Lord allows us to endure difficult things in life.
Learning Indicator: by discussing the meaning of the reasons James gives in this passage for trials.
Learning Activity #1:
Active Listening: Divide the children into two groups, and ask the first group to listen for the purpose of trials. Assign the second group the task of listening for ways they can learn in hard times.
Immediately after the reading of the passage call on volunteers from each group to share what they learned, and write it on a white/chalk board what they shared. Help point out that the Lord wants us to come to the place where we lack nothing in our lives when we realize we have Him. Also point out that ways that we do that are by having confidence that the Lord is with us in that hard time.
Learning Activity #2
Agree/Disagree: Read the following statements to the children and have them tell whether they agree or disagree that it was taught in the passages they heard.
- James wrote these verses. Agree.
- These verses teach that God’s children never have hard times. Disagree.
- James wanted us to understand there is a purpose in hard times. Agree.
- Faith is tested because of disobedience. Disagree.
- God’s desire is for us to lack nothing in our walk with Him. Agree.
- Joy is possible even in difficult times. Agree.
Learning Activity 3#
Open Discussion: Take all the previous statements and discuss the reasons they agreed or disagreed with the statement. Lead the children into a discussion regarding the purpose of trials and the lessons that can be learned in those trials with questions and further discussions regarding the statements that they agreed and disagreed.
1) This statement mentioned James as the author of these verses. What do we learn about James from these verses? (Bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ). Tell the children that he was also the half-brother of Jesus and explain the term “bond-servant”. Definition of bond-servant—one who freely serves the Lord.
2) We know that God’s children do go through hard times in life. What are some of the hard times that you’ve gone through? (Children will talk about such things as parents divorcing or dying, difficulties in school, and problems with friends.
3) Everyone faces hard times. What are some ways the Lord helped you in that hard time? (Share personal stories with the children to help them understand that the Lord may be helping them and they might not be recognizing His help.)
4) Why do you think hard times can come from disobedience? Help the children understand how the consequences that follow wrong choices by giving examples such as detention in school for talking fresh to a teacher or time-outs for disobeying their parent.
5) What do you think James means that the Lord’s desire is for us to lack nothing? Explain how this doesn’t necessarily mean just our physical needs, but the ways we can have healthy relationships with people and make choices that bring joy to our lives and pleasure to the Lord.
6) What do you think makes it possible to have joy in hard times? Explain to the children that joy can be found in hard times when we keep in mind that the Lord will not abandon us in those times and that He will carry us through those difficult times.
Test: Ask several volunteers to restate what they learned about the purpose of trials and what they can learn from those difficult times. If they need help prompt them by asking “How did the Lord help you in a hard time?”
Connection with the Gospel:Jesus was called a ‘man of sorrows’ and experienced many trials during his time on Earth. He can be trusted to give us strength when we too face trials. Children need to remember the promise that Jesus gave us that He will never leave us or forsake them when life gets hard. For Christians, we know that suffering can help us become more like Christ.
Connection with Life: Ask for volunteers to share a difficult time they faced and ways that they felt the Lord helped them. If they are unable to identify the way the Lord helped them, make suggestions like: providing family/friends to listen to them, no longer being in that situation, and ways the Lord provided for their needs.