1 Peter 4:12-14, New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised by the terrible things happening to you. The trouble you are having has come to test you. So don’t feel as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be joyful that you are taking part in Christ’s sufferings. Then you will have even more joy when Christ returns in glory. 14 Suppose people say bad things about you because you believe in Christ. Then you are blessed, because God’s Spirit rests on you. He is the Spirit of glory.
1 Peter 5:6-11, New International Reader's Version
6 So make yourselves humble. Put yourselves under God’s mighty hand. Then he will honor you at the right time 7 Turn all your worries over to him. He cares about you.
8 Be watchful and control yourselves. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to swallow up. 9 Stand up to him. Remain strong in what you believe. You know that you are not alone in your suffering. The family of believers throughout the world is going through the same thing.
10 God always gives you all the grace you need. So, you will only have to suffer for a little while. Then God himself will build you up again. He will make you strong and steady. And he has chosen you to share in his eternal glory because you belong to Christ. 11 Give him the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Children’s building blocks; Legos that “snap” and hold together — placed in a brown paper sack.
I wonder what is in the paper sack this week. (Remove the building blocks and place them on the floor.) Let’s pretend these building blocks are the problems people face in life. Let’s think about those problems for a moment. Can we name those problems? As I name a problem, I am going to build a wall with these blocks. (Hold up a block.) This block could stand for disagreement. Have you ever had a disagreement with a friend? Would you care to share about what happened? (Allow one child to share.) (Hold up another block.) This block could stand for having a sore throat. That’s a problem, isn’t it? (Continue to add a couple more while building up the block wall.)
Wow! Look at all these problems. Our problems can build up just like this until it may seem like there is no way to fix all the problems we’re facing. Then we feel overwhelmed. If we try to fix all the problems alone, without any help from someone else, our wall is “wobbly” and may just simply fall over. (Demonstrate how shaky the blocks might be; then push them over.)
Our Bible passage from 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “so make yourselves humble. Put yourselves under God’s mighty hand. Then he will honor you at the right time. Turn all your worries over to him. He cares about you.”
If we trust God with our problems, God will take care of us. How can we trust and give our problems to God? (Pause for children’s responses.)
Wait! There is something else in my paper sack today. (Remove and show the children a few Legos that are unattached to one another.) These are Legos. They are different from the blocks that I showed you earlier. What makes them different? (Allow children to respond.) That’s right; they click together and stay connected. They won’t tumble over and fall apart.
Even though the Legos do click together and seem more solid, they also are similar to the blocks in many ways. If the building blocks stand for the struggles that we face in life, so can these Legos, especially when they are not clicked together. Legos hurt us when we step on them, don’t they? If each Lego represents a struggle we face and we click the Legos together, they will add up to something so big that it seems like one huge problem that we can never solve. But with Legos, we can unclick them and recognize that the wall we’re building can be taken apart and dealt with differently. It can be taken apart so that we don’t feel so overwhelmed by the problems. God’s love can help us recognize that when problems continue to build, we can keep the problems from adding up. God’s love can help us realize that all the problems and suffering don’t have to build up to the point of being one huge problem; our problems can be faced a little at a time. God’s love can help us take small steps toward removing one small problem at a time. God’s love helps us to unclick the next little block, rather than allowing all the blocks to continue to stand. We need God’s help. We need God’s love.
I want you to think of one problem you’re facing. While you think of that problem, we’re going to do what God asks us to do and give our problems to God. So, think silently about a problem in your life. (Pause for a moment, and then attach the second Lego to the first.) As I attach the second Lego to the first, think of another problem in your life, and then a third. (Attach third Lego.)
Notice that with God’s help, if the wall seems too big, we can unclick the blocks and put them in a different place. God does that with our problems. God will take care of us. If our problems seem too large, God can make them seem smaller. Let’s pray and give our problems to God.
God of love and trust: Thank you for caring about us and for asking us to give our problems to you. We give these problems that we are thinking about to you. We trust you to help us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.