BIBLE PASSAGE: Job 3
BACKGROUND: Job is one of the most uncomfortable and challenging stories of the Bible. It doesn’t fit with our image of a loving God, and we often hear our own voices mixed in with those of Job’s friends as they question everything he believes to be true. This session explores the idea that often there are no easy answers to difficult questions, but it also reminds us that we can take our challenges and struggles to God and be honest with him about how we respond to stories of suffering in our world.
As you begin the session, gather the children together in a circle. Invite them to share refreshments together and talk about their recent news or experiences. Ask how they are feeling. What sort of week have they had? What have they enjoyed about it? What has been more difficult to deal with?
You will need: a selection of newspapers (First News is specifically designed for children and may be the most appropriate choice)
Explain to the children that we hear bad news stories every day. Some can seem far away and mean very little to us, but sometimes big news stories hit home and we somehow encounter some of the nasty stuff in the world.
Your group or local community may have been affected by a recent event, which they might want to talk about here. Alternatively, make the newspapers
available and invite the children to tear out and gather together some of the stories
of suffering in the world. Then invite the children to share some of the things they have noticed. Where do they see people hurting or suffering in the world? Explain that we will be looking at some of these things today, and that we can take these issues to God.
You will need: Bibles
Gather the children together and introduce the character of Job. Explain that Job’s story is one of great heartbreak and suffering. In a way that your children will be able to understand, explain that this story raises many questions, but also reassures us that we are not on our own when we are suffering. Our experiences are not wrong or our fault, but rather they represent the fact that the world suffers because of sin and Satan’s involvement in the world.
Introduce the story by telling the children that, while we get to read the first part of Job’s story, he didn’t know that this was what had happened. Job was a faithful follower of God, always doing the right thing before God. Satan saw this and didn’t like it. He told God that Job only served God because he had never had his faith tested. He claimed God had given Job an easy life, so Job had no reason to doubt God!
God agreed that Satan could test Job. Satan wanted to see what would happen to Job if he took away the things that mattered to him. As a result, Job lost his children,
his wealth, his home and his health. His protected life had been shattered, but would he lose his faith in God?
Ask someone to read Job 3 from an easy-to-read translation, such as the Good News Bible or the Contemporary English Version. Encourage the reader to rehearse beforehand and to perform the passage as a monologue, calling out to God in angst. Depending upon the age and understanding level of your group, you may wish to shorten the passage a little.
You may wish to share the ending of Job’s story with the group later in the session, but not at this point, as it will distract the children from what you want them to discover and undermine the opportunity to explore where God is in our suffering. Come to this later as a reminder that God is with us and continues to offer hope even in our darkest places.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- How does this story make you feel?
- Which parts of Job’s speech can you most relate to?
- What might you have said to God in Job’s situation?
- What would you want to say to Job?
- What questions would you want to ask God?
You will need: lining paper; marker pens; paint; paintbrushes; cover-up and clean-up equipment
Before the session, cover a wall in lining paper to create a blank surface. Remind the group that just as Job needed to shout out to God in his despair, there will be situations and circumstances where we will want to do the same.
Explain to the group that the blank wall is a graffiti wall where they can come and write, draw, paint or graffiti their shout-outs to God. It may be a whole prayer or letter, like Job’s, or it may be a single word. It may be a picture that represents their struggles, or it could simply be sticking up a story they have found in the paper.
As you work, allow the children to add their responses discretely while also giving them the opportunity to talk about the challenging times in life when we can’t make sense of the hurt that we, or those we love, are facing. Remind the children that we can take all those feelings and reactions to God, and shout them out to him.
You will need: the graffiti wall from ‘Creative response’
Gather the children in front of the graffiti wall and invite them to spend some time standing quietly, thinking through all the thoughts and questions written on it.
Encourage them to talk to God about some of these things.
Bring this time of quiet to a close, praying aloud for all the children, and for all the struggles they are facing. Thank God that he is big enough to handle our difficult questions, and that he is with us in every circumstance we may face.
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