|LESSON 8||*February 12 - 18|
Read for This Week's Study: Job 19:25; James 5:10, 11; Ruth 1; Esther 2; 2 Cor. 11:23–28; Phil. 4:11–13.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging”(Psalm 46:1-3, NIV).
|Resilience is the process of
facing adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or extreme stress and
“bouncing back” successfully without becoming too
negatively affected by the experience. The concept has received growing
attention because of the usefulness of possessing a reasonable amount
of resilience in the face of life’s difficulties. After all, who
among us doesn’t face major stressors, in one form or another?
The question is, How can we have the resilience to deal with what
happens and not be destroyed emotionally in the process?
In the 1960s, Victor and Mildred Goertzel wrote Cradles of Eminence, which presented biographical analyses of more than 700 subjects who went through great childhood adversity (broken homes, financial struggles, physical and/or psychological handicaps, etc.) and yet achieved great success. The book was updated in 2004.
The Bible also tells us of individuals who had to face adversity but who, through God’s grace, bounced back and overcame their problems. Despite difficult circumstances and even flaws in their characters, they were able to be used by God because they had the resilience to press on ahead, even amid adverse circumstances.
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, February 19.
The Patience of Job
Read James 5:10, 11. What is it about Job that makes him an example to be emulated? See also Job 1–3.
A woman who underwent counseling to recover from a serious crisis told her friends that one idea transmitted by the counselor was key to her successful recovery. “What helped me most,” she said, “was the counselor insisting that my painful circumstances would come to an end. ‘It looks dark and unending now,’ the counselor used to say, ‘but it will not last too much longer.’ This thought helped me gain resilience.” In other words, the counselor kept the woman’s hope alive.
How to grow in patience? George Goodman of England once received a young man that needed to be prayed for. He expressed his need directly: “Mr. Goodman, I wish you would pray for me that I might have patience.”
The elderly man responded: “Yes, I will pray for you that you may have tribulation.”
“Oh, no, sir,” the young man replied, “it is patience that I want.”
“I understand,” said Goodman, “and I will pray for you that you may have tribulation.” The Bible teacher opened his Bible and read Romans 5:3 to the amazed young man: “ ‘And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.’ ”
The story of Job offers a supreme example of resilience. Earlier in his life, Job had understood that God is merciful and righteous. He did not understand the reasons for his suffering; he did not find support from his wife; his property and children were destroyed, and then he contracted a horrible disease. And yet, somehow amid it all, he never lost his faith in God and endured until the tragedy ended.
Read Job 19:25. What hope did Job cling to here? How can we better learn to cling to this hope in our own adversity, as well?
|Think about times you were going through something terrible. What hope sustained you? What words spoken to you were helpful? Which ones were not so helpful, or even harmful? What did you learn that would enable you to better help someone who is going through great adversity now?|
Joseph in Captivity
Read Genesis 37:19–28 and Genesis 39:12–20 and try to put yourself in Joseph’s sandals. Think how discouraged he must have been. Think of the potential for anger and bitterness that could have, even justifiably, been his. Though the Bible doesn’t tell us in detail what his emotions were, it’s not hard to imagine the pain he suffered from such betrayal and treachery.
Nevertheless, Joseph turned to the Lord at these junctures, and in the end, good things came out of the events. After having been sold by his brothers, Joseph actually experienced his conversion and a much closer relationship with God. “He had been told of the Lord's promises to Jacob, and how they had been fulfilled—how, in the hour of need, the angels of God had come to instruct, comfort, and protect him. And he had learned of the love of God in providing for men a Redeemer. Now all these precious lessons came vividly before him. Joseph believed that the God of his fathers would be his God. He then and there gave himself fully to the Lord.”—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 213, 214.
When he was thrown in prison unjustly, the experience opened the path to the court of Pharaoh to accomplish the mission to save many souls and his own people.
What do the following texts tell us about how bad situations can be turned to good?
God does not want us to suffer needlessly. In fact, the environment Jesus has prepared for us in heaven is tearless and painless (Rev. 21:4). But as we wait for that promise to be fulfilled, it seems certain that pain is the path to learn certain lessons. Character development, empathy, humility, discipleship, understanding of good and evil—these are some of the lessons we can learn. Although it is difficult to think of the benefits of suffering, especially in the midst of trial, we can ask God for the necessary strength to pass through difficulties.
|Have you ever had a terrible experience that in the end brought some good, some benefit? How can this help you learn to trust the Lord in any adversity, even when nothing good seems likely to result?|
What are some of the misfortunes experienced by Naomi? Ruth 1.
Leaving one’s country to settle somewhere else is always scary, especially when the departure is motivated by the need to survive. The famine in Judah forced Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons to emigrate to the country of Moab, an agricultural area where they could obtain food. The Moabites were an idolatrous people (Judg. 10:6) whose practices clashed with Jewish beliefs. This in itself must have produced significant turmoil to the newcomers. Sometime after having settled, Naomi’s husband died. Mother and sons found themselves in a foreign land, degraded to the condition of widow and orphans, without protection and subject to additional disgrace. Then Naomi’s sons, Mahlon and Kilion, married local women. This fact may have brought conflict to the family, at least in the beginning, because of significant religious differences. Although the law did not specifically prohibit marriages between Jews and Moabites, it was stipulated that Moabites or their descendants could not enter the assembly of the Lord until after ten generations (Deut. 23:3).
Later on, Mahlon and Killion, whose names meant “sickness” and “wasting,” respectively, also died. It is hard to imagine a more tragic situation in the life of Naomi—no one alive from her close family, and the remaining kin far away in Bethlehem.
What was the turning point in Naomi’s life? How did God repair the severe adversities suffered by Naomi? Ruth 1:16–18, 4:13–17.
At the deepest moment of trouble Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth served as God-sent emotional support. Naomi must have been a remarkable woman to have inspired the devotion of her two daughters-in-law, especially Ruth, who accepted the God of Israel and made the firm decision to care for her mother-in-law for life in a land whose inhabitants were, historically, her enemies.
Chapters 2 through 4 convey a beautiful succession of events that ended up in a happy family arrangement. Naomi left behind untold suffering and lived to witness the marriage of Ruth to Boaz and the birth of her grandson Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.
|However much we ultimately need to trust the Lord and surrender everything to Him, at times we do need human help, as well. When was the last time you really needed someone’s help? What did you gain from that experience?|
Esther’s Days of Stress
What were some of the adversities, struggles, and pressures Esther faced?
Since early life Esther had been an orphan. Although she was adopted by her older cousin Mordecai, the stigma of parentless childhood was most surely difficult. In spite of this, Esther grew up as a balanced, determined, and capable young woman.
After she became queen, Esther did not reveal her nationality or family background. This was a particularly heavy challenge. Surrounded by food, luxuries, and practices of life in the court, Esther had to somehow try to maintain her Jewish faith and identity. In addition, the risk of being identified as a member of the Jewish people was real, and the consequences of hiding her identity were uncertain.
Esther also had to take to the king the bad news that officers were conspiring to kill him. This was not an easy task because, if the plot could not be substantiated, Esther and her cousin could be blamed for starting rumors, and who knew the results?
But the greatest responsibility placed on Esther was being left as the sole channel to save her nation. Mordecai asked her to mediate on behalf of the Jews, which she could not do without risking her life. When she hesitated, her cousin put still more pressure on her: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish” (Esther 4:14, NIV). Talk about stress!
Finally she appeared before the king, knowing that such an act carried with it a high chance of death. In the end, though, things worked out, however dangerous the situation at times was for this young woman.
|All of us, like Esther, are born into situations not of our own making. What is your background? What things were handed you, good and bad, that you didn’t ask for? How can you learn to appreciate more the good that you have been given and to overcome the bad?|
The Secret of Being Content
Paul was born and grew up in Tarsus, into a Hebrew family from the tribe of Benjamin. He obtained his Roman nationality through his father, a citizen of the Roman Empire. He became a Pharisee, a devout group who adhered to the law (Torah) plus the oral tradition (Mishnah). With this background, he must have enjoyed the privileges of his social and religious status.
However, when Paul responded to the call of Jesus, everything changed. Instead of persecutor, he became the target of radical persecution from some of his own nation and eventually from Romans. He suffered tribulations for three decades and was executed after having been imprisoned at Rome.
Read 2 Corinthians 11:23–28, which lists some of the adversities Paul had to face. Then read Philippians 4:11– 13. After so much suffering, what is the assessment Paul makes of his own life? What lessons are here for us amid whatever struggles we’re going through?
Contentment is a crucial component of happiness and psychological well-being. Being content comes to those who see the positive outlook of things, those who look at the past with acceptance and at the future with hope. Interestingly enough, having “everything” doesn’t guarantee contentment and happiness. For some folk, no matter what they have, it’s never enough. Others, having so little, are nevertheless satisfied. What do you think makes the difference?
One of the many current definitions of “intelligence” is the ability to adapt to new situations. This may have to do with living in new places, relating to new people, experiencing new socioeconomic conditions. Paul’s ability is not a hereditary trait, because he specifically says: “I have learned to be content” (Phil. 4:12, NIV). This is not a capacity that some possess and others do not. Adaptation and contentment amid a wide range of circumstances are learned processes that come over time and practice.
Verse 13 gives the ultimate key to Paul’s resilience. Not only could he feel contentment with little or much material resources. He could do anything and everything in Jesus Christ.
|How content are you? How much are you tossed around and victimized by your circumstances? What are ways in which you can learn better to be “content in any and every situation” (vs. 11, NIV)?|
“The powers of darkness gather about the soul and shut Jesus from our sight, and at times we can only wait in sorrow and amazement until the cloud passes over. These seasons are sometimes terrible. Hope seems to fail, and despair seizes upon us. In these dreadful hours we must learn to trust, to depend solely upon the merits of the atonement, and in all our helpless unworthiness cast ourselves upon the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. We shall never perish while we do this—never! When light shines on our pathway, it is no great thing to be strong in the strength of grace. But to wait patiently in hope when clouds envelop us and all is dark requires faith and submission which causes our will to be swallowed up in the will of God. We are too quickly discouraged, and earnestly cry for the trial to be removed from us, when we should plead for patience to endure and grace to overcome.”—Ellen G. White, God’s Amazing Grace, p. 114.
| Some folk overcome hardships that
others are crushed under. What do you think makes the difference?
In the third sentence of the quote in Friday’s study (“In these dreadful hours we must . . .”), what is Ellen G. White telling us? Where is she pointing our hope? Why, in the end, is the gospel, as presented in these words, our only hope, regardless of the tragedy that happens to us now?
How can you practically apply Peter’s counsel in 1 Peter 4:12, 13? It’s one thing to remain resilient and faithful amid trial, but to do what Peter says? How is that possible?
Suppose you were dealing with someone in a very dire situation, one in which there seemed no way out, humanly speaking. Suppose, too, that you had only five minutes with that person. In those few minutes, what would you say to give the person hope?
|I N S I D E Story|
|Called to Serve
I grew up in a Buddhist family in Southeast Asia. My best friend in college was a Seventh-day Adventist. I knew nothing about God or Jesus or Christianity, and sometimes I teased my friend about his religion, but he never became angry with me. I think that deep in my heart, where I wasn't even aware of it yet, God was speaking to me.
Another girl shared her faith with me and challenged me to read the Bible and learn for myself who God is. She promised that in its pages I would find Jesus and salvation.
I decided to learn more about this Jesus and told my best friend. He introduced me to his uncle, a pastor, who offered to study with me. I wanted to know two things: is the Bible true, and who is this Jesus?
The pastor taught me the Bible through its stories. He taught me how to understand God's Written Word and how to pray. The more I sought to know Christ, the more amazed I was at what I found in the Bible. I surrendered my life to God and asked to be baptized.
I finished my studies and took a job as an accountant with an international firm. The job paid well, and life was good.
Then I received an e-mail inviting me to serve as a volunteer accountant at Yap Seventh-day Adventist School. I had never heard of Yap, but I knew that God was calling me to serve Him there. It took a lot of faith, but I resigned my job and accepted the call to Yap.
It's a big step to give up a good job and steady income to live a simple life on a tiny island in the South Pacific. But I'm learning to trust God for everything. He knows what I need and always provides.
During my time in Yap, God has taught me how to trust Him and to keep my eyes focused on Him. The culture is so different from my own, but the people I serve are God's children, and I've learned to love them. He has given me new perspective and teaches me His love and grace.
I am amazed that God invited me, a young Buddhist boy, to become a soldier in His army. Every day He reminds me that I am His and that the children and parents I serve are His also. What a privilege and honor to work for Christ and share His love with others.
KHAM wrote his story while serving as the accountant at the Yap Adventist School in Micronesia..
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