How can something be made strong because it’s weak? Only through the power of God! This simple Sunday School lesson focuses on a beautiful passage of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Students will consider what it means to face challenges that they might not be able to conquer on their own power. They will appreciate the strength that comes through relying on God’s grace first and foremost.
The file download above includes the complete teaching plan, craft ideas, coloring pages, and children’s message.
Lesson focus: This lesson emphasizes where true power comes from. We might try to be confident in our own abilities, and often fall flat. We need God for anything and everything that we do. Sometimes we face challenges and feel weak, and that’s okay! The message here is that God is always present and wants to help us when we encounter difficulties. His power gives us strength, and that shines through brightest when we are struggling. We lean on God and know we can do great things through Him. His grace is all we need!
Passage: 2 Corinthians 12:5-10; also reference the story of Samson (Judges 14-16) and other events in the life of Paul.
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade (adaptable, but some concepts might be best for slightly older students)
- Watch the video demonstration of this children’s sermon and related craft ideas
- Download our coloring page from the book of 2 Corinthians
Materials Needed: Construction paper, scissors, decorations, glue, string, hole punch, paper towel tubes, small paper plates, popsicle sticks, markers, crayons, Bible (optional, depending on crafts and activities of choice).
Activities to Introduce the Lesson
Lesson Opening: The focus of this lesson is God’s power and strength, which are especially evident in the midst of our weakness and struggles. Consider opening with an activity that highlights our need for help from stronger sources.
Here are some activities to get kids thinking… (select the best ones for your audience and age group):
- Who’s on your side tug-of-war: match students up for a “tug-of-war” battle with (smooth!) ropes or jump ropes. Place smaller, younger students up against bigger, tougher ones, and ask the kids who they think will win in such a challenge. It might appear as though the bigger students will be obvious winners—until you place an adult or two on the side of the younger ones! Sometimes it feels that we are up against impossible odds, too, until we remember that God is on our side.
- How strong are you? Provide simple strength challenges for students. See how much they can lift using just one arm, and then two arms…then allow them to work in teams to observe how much more they can carry with help.
- Hold a fun “rock, paper, scissors” tournament for a simple way to open up the topic.
- What’s your weakness? Test boundaries of balance by lining students up in pairs along a line. Invite them to attempt to make their partner step away from the line, by pressing against one another’s index fingers. Provide guidelines for safety. It’s more challenging than it sounds!
- Strength isn’t just muscles…challenge students to other “power tests” based on things like memorization, wit, and artistic creativity.
Explain to students that there are many ways we can be strong. Sometimes we think of strength in terms of physical power or stature, but there’s so much more than that! We might feel weak or inadequate if we measure success only by what we can do or by what we accomplish on our own. Fortunately, our true power comes from God alone. We are going to talk about what that means, and how we can actually be even stronger when we admit that we are weak!
Ask: What are some things that are challenging for you? When do you feel like you’re not strong enough or good enough?
Sunday School Lesson (2 Corinthians 12:2-10) He is Strong
Bible Lesson: The quoted passage in this lesson is relatively short, but there are a few background suggestions to provide, as well. For the reference to the Samson story, see Judges 14-16. Details of Paul’s life can be found throughout the book of Acts, beginning in chapter 9, as well as references in his own epistles.
Begin the Bible portion of this lesson by providing an example of someone who will serve as a contrast to the main emphasis of the 2 Corinthians passage: Samson. Depending on your time and audience, you may wish to only briefly discuss the story of Samson…or you can have fun acting out the events in detail. Use puppets or students to bring the story to life.
When discussing Samson, point out how Samson’s strength was given to him by God. Unfortunately, he lost track of that and didn’t always rely on God as he should have. He gave in to other people, which was part of his downfall. Samson wasn’t strong because he worked out every day, but because God gave him power. Use this story to remind kids that we shouldn’t brag about our own abilities. It’s fine to be confident, but pride can lead to trouble.
Lead into the epistle passage by reviewing some details of Paul’s life. Depending on familiarity, you may need to quickly recap who Paul was and how he got his start. Paul had been a Jew, intent on following the law, boastful of his heritage, and bent on persecuting Christians. God humbled him and revealed to him how important it was to rely on Jesus and on grace alone. Paul wrote letters to churches that he worked with, encouraging them in their faith and reminding them (and us, reading them centuries later) of important truths about God. One of these letters, to the Corinthian church, spoke of how Paul recognized where strength comes from: only from above.
On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. -2 Corinthians 12:5-6
Paul writes here of boasting, and how he will keep from bragging. He had done a lot of things and suffered through a lot of things in his life, but he stays away from writing about himself. Instead, he wants to highlight who Jesus is. He wants the people reading his letter to know that he relies on God. Why would someone boast of weaknesses, though?
Ask: Do we try to hide our weaknesses? Is it ever embarrassing to admit we can’t do things?
Explain that Paul had a solid reputation before giving his life to Christ. But he always thought that nothing compared with knowing Jesus and proclaiming the Gospel. Still, Paul never thought too highly of himself, and admitted that God had kept him humble through a challenge that he faced:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. -2 Corinthians 12:7
This puts a new spin on hardship. Usually we want difficult and painful things to leave us instantly, and with good reason. It’s no fun to feel uncomfortable! But Paul recognizes that this trial, whatever it was (we aren’t sure specifics), was actually something God used to force Paul to rely on faith for strength…
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. -2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Paul begged God to take away this challenge. But the Lord told him that his “grace was sufficient.” What might that mean? Well, sometimes (often times) life is hard and uncomfortable. We are not promised that we’ll get all we want this side of Heaven. But we do know we have been given grace, and that the blood of Jesus has saved us and cleansed us. That is enough. Does it feel like enough when facing tough times? It might not…but those are circumstances when we are forced to lean on God all the more. It shouldn’t take difficulty to make us realize we need Him and rely on Him, but sometimes that’s what it takes. When we recognize that we can’t do things on our own power and we need God, it allows God to truly work in and through us in amazing ways.
Ask: Have you ever asked God for something that you didn’t get? Does God still hear our prayers if we don’t get what we ask for?
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:10
Paul went through a lot in his life, but he clung to the hope of Jesus. He knew that God would always be present and would help him no matter what. The same is true for us! There are many things we encounter that seem (and sometimes are) impossible. We can’t do all things on our own…but we can do all things through Christ. Even if life doesn’t go how we wish, we know that He is present and with us. When we realize we are weak, we know we need the help of others. We always need God’s help, and He will always provide it!
Ask: How can you remember this beautiful promise? How can you apply it?
When we are feeling weak, or discouraged, or uncertain, we can pray and ask God for strength and power. Recognize that all we have and can do comes from Him and returns to Him. It’s okay if we can’t do everything…we shouldn’t be able to do without God’s help! What a comforting blessing it is to know He is with us and that His grace is enough for us.
Close with a prayer thanking God for His power and strength. Ask for help in trusting God for all things, and thank Him for making us strong when we feel weak. Thank God for His grace and ask for help in relying on that for comfort.
Sunday School Craft Ideas
Crafts: Use your creativity to select crafts that remind students of God’s strength and our need to rely on Him. A few possible crafts to consider include:
- “Soft made strong” cross with yarn or string surrounding a firmer cross shape to illustrate how weak things can become strong with Jesus.
- A “power in weakness bar bell” to identify methods of trusting in God above all else.
- “God’s Power is greatest trophy” or medal to recall that our strength comes from Him.
- Long-haired Samson puppet with muscle arms.
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