Out of the Whirlwind

Born to Trouble

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

What ought we expect when we come to worship? To ease into some comfortable bubble protected from the difficult world out there? Or to be shaken to the core by the awesome majesty of the God we worship? To be honest, there is nothing wrong with the warm comfort of the presence of God through the caring community that is the church. We don’t mean to suggest setting that aside. But once in a while, we do need to be reminded of what it is that we mean when we speak of the awesome God.

Note to the Teacher

The scripture we read today is when Job encounters God in a way that overwhelms and transforms Job in the depth of all his pain. The opening activity uses words from today’s reading to play a fun game of charades. The discussion encourages students to think about their relationship with God during the good times and the bad times. The activity and discussion get students diving deeper into the book of Job by inviting them to read through and highlight or write down things that stick out to them from chapters 38-41. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.

1. Ice Breaker: Charades, Job Edition (10 minutes)

In this ice breaker, youth will play a quick version of charades using Chapter 38 from the book of Job as a guide. In charades, you act out a phrase without speaking, while other members of your team try to guess what the phrase is. The object of the game is for your team to guess the phrase as quickly as possible. If you have students joining online, they may play the same way in-person students play. For larger groups, you may want to divide the group into a number of teams. For a smaller group, you may want to have everyone on the same team and see who can get the group to guess the most correct. Using this list below, all taken from Job 38, ask for one student to come forward to start the game. Give each caller thirty to sixty seconds to see how many he/she can get students to guess.

  1. Tornado
  2. Dark clouds
  3. Earth
  4. Ruler
  5. Star
  6. Clouds
  7. Door
  8. Light
  9. Clay
  10. Ocean
  11. Snow
  12. Battle
  13. Rain
  14. Thunder/Lightning
  15. Desert or Desolate Land
  16. Lion and Prey (Hunt)
  17. Raven (Bird)
  18. Number the Clouds

After your group has had some fun playing charades, transition to the scripture reading. Transition by inviting students into a time of prayer. Ask a student to pray to invite the Holy Spirit in to speak to and through one another today.

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

Our scripture reading today talks about how God overwhelms and transforms Job even in the midst of Job’s pain. Ask a student to read the scripture. As the student reads, ask the other students to think about the tone God is taking with Job.

Read Job 38:1-7, (34-41).

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

  • The Lord answers Job out of “the whirlwind.” What do you think that sounded like? Is the idea of a whirlwind consistent with what we know about Job’s experiences?
  • Have you ever heard of God speaking to someone? Or perhaps has God ever spoken to you? If so, how, when, and about what? Ask if anyone would like to share. Remind students to be respectful and treat each student’s story with compassion and grace.
  • How does God communicate with us today? How did God communicate to Job and others in the Bible two thousand years ago? Is it different? If so, why? If not, explain.
  • How can our relationship with God feel different when life is going great as compared to when life is going horribly wrong or out of control? Why do you think it feels different?
  • What do God’s responses to Job tell us about the nature of God and God’s relationship with people? Why do you think God uses so many creation and nature references?
  • God explains over and over that God is the creator of all things and that God laid the cornerstone and set the stars in the sky. Why is that such an important concept for Job to hear?
  • God provides plenty of example of power in today’s scripture. How do you think God uses God’s power when there is still plenty of evil and hate in the world?
  • If you had the opportunity to ask God one thing and to get an answer, what would it be?

As you transition into the closing activity, you’ve probably had some really deep discussion and you probably haven’t answered everyone’s questions. The idea is to allow your students to grapple with difficult questions about faith. Job spent a long time struggling with why God was doing what God was doing. It is good for you and your students to do the same.

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

Take some time in this third lesson to really dig into the book of Job and invite students to find some verses that resonate with them and how they are feeling about life right now. Give students a 3x5 card and a pen or pencil and ask them to search and read through Job 38, 39, 40, and 41. Have them highlight or right down anything that sticks out for them. Tell them to pay special attention to any phrases or images that really speak to them. Encourage students to take some quiet time simply to read through the chapters.

After everyone has had time to read through and write down anything that stuck out, invite students to share what they wrote. Be mindful that some students will not want to share, and that is totally alright. You may even want to write down what your students say on a whiteboard or piece of posterboard.

After everyone has had the opportunity to share, ask the following questions to the whole group.

  1. How do you think Job felt hearing all of that from God?
  2. Do you think God was angry at Job? Why or why not?
  3. *Big word warning* Sometimes in writing and sharing stories, people “anthropomorphize” characters in the story. Anthropomorphize means to project human characteristics and behaviors onto somebody or something that is clearly not human. Imagine a pirate saying, “The ocean was angry that day my friends . . .” or, “That whale laughs at my misery.” Sometimes it can even be easy to project human nature and behaviors on to God, even though God is clearly not human. That said, does God get angry at people? Do you feel like God ever gets angry at you? (The leader can add something like: “Remember, God is not a person. People are made in God’s image, not the other way around. As we keep reading and learning more about scripture, God’s ways are not our ways. God does not necessarily get angry about the same things that we get angry about. God’s anger and wrath are usually directed at sin, evil, and death as opposed to people. God’s anger and wrath also serve a purpose, in the process of redeeming people and the world to end the sin, evil, and death that causes suffering in the first place.” What are some causes [not people] of evil, sin, and death in our world today that God may have some anger about?)
  4. What themes does God use in talking about himself to Job? (Nature, creation, etc.)

Take some time as a group to make a list of all the great things you’ve known God to do. Are there places in scripture that reminds us of all the great things that God has done and will do? Where have you seen God at work in your life? In your friend’s life? In your family’s life? After you’ve spent some time writing down all these things, take some time to thank God for creating all things good!

Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

Total time: 50 minutes


  • Pens or pencils
  • 3x5 index cards
  • Whiteboard or one piece of posterboard
  • Sharpie or dry-erase marker

In This Series...

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes