Life is full of challenges. Some challenges we go looking for, such as trying to beat a record or improve a skill. Other challenges come to us, and we have to face them even if we would rather run the other way.
- What are some challenges that you have chosen—things you decided to do even though you knew they would not be easy to accomplish? (Answers will vary: learning a sport or instrument; performing on stage; etc.)
- Describe your experience as you worked toward accomplishing the challenge. (Answers will vary: it turned out to be easy; it is still a challenge; I gave up, etc.)
- What is the biggest unwelcome challenge you have ever known someone to have to face? (Answers will vary: natural disaster; hunger; poverty; war, etc.)
Eight-year-old Ryan Boyd was faced with an unexpected and unwelcome challenge. Let’s watch his story.
Share the following video with your students [3:05]:
Ryan Boyd – A Magical Recovery – Traumatic Brain Injury
- How do you think you might respond to the type of challenge Ryan faced? (Answers will vary but might include: feel afraid; cry, give up; try hard, pray, etc.)
- What are some challenges that you did not choose but that you have had to face? (Answers might include: learning disability; death of a loved one; illness; bully; parents’ divorce; anxiety; moving to a new city, etc.)
- What is the hardest part of facing an unwanted or unexpected challenge? (Answers will vary: wondering if things will ever improve; not giving up; finding the strength to press on; getting tired of how long the challenge lasts; finding that the challenge means learning to live with some type of change; etc.)
- What are some things that might distract you from facing a challenge? (Answers might include fear; looking at the big, overall problem rather than just the small bit you need to work on today; forgetting God is with you, etc.)
Peter was faced with an unexpected and exciting challenge, one where he had the resource to press on, but he let himself get distracted by fear. Let’s see what would have enabled him to do the unbelievable when he was challenged.
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
- Internet access
- Index cards (2 per student)
- Hole punch
- Optional: paperclips
Peter walked on the water when he believed Jesus would enable him to do so. When his focus shifted to his fear of the wind and the waves, he took his eyes off the source of his strength—Jesus—and he began to sink. Like Peter, we can have strong faith when we keep our eyes on Jesus.
- Why do you think we often give in to fear and defeat even when we know the perfect and all-powerful God can help us with any challenge we face? (Answers will vary.)
- What are some situations that you are facing now, or that you know you will be facing in the future, where relying on God to get you through would make dealing with the challenge easier for you?
Distribute supplies. On one index card and using only half of the surface space on one side, students should write out today’s memory verse (“I can do all this through him who gives me strength”—Philippians 4:13). They should also use decorative lettering to write “Jesus” as large as they can on the other half of the same side of that index card (they might choose to symbolize Jesus by drawing a cross or in some other meaningful way rather than write out His name). Instruct your preteens to then use the hole punch to make a small hole in the middle of Jesus’ name or the symbol they chose to represent Him.
Fill the other index card with challenges that you face, have faced, or may face. These can be challenges you choose or challenges that are part of life. If the students do not have enough ideas, brainstorm as a group.
Allow time for them to think and write; you may want to play this softly while the students work [4:40]:
I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me
Silently read the challenges that you listed on your second index card. Now read the memory verse on your “Jesus” card. With the Jesus card and memory verse facing toward you, place the second index card—the one where you listed all the challenges—directly behind the Jesus card. Keep holding the cards together like that and look at the hole punched through. Notice the limited area that you can see when you look through that hole. None of the challenges you listed can even be read while you are looking at “Jesus” on your card.
Now pull your challenge card a few inches away from your Jesus card. Peek through the hole at the challenges—you can see every one of them when you look past Jesus and focus on the challenges.
As you are faced with challenges, and even when life seems easy, commit to zooming in your focus on Jesus and not looking past Him at the things that want to overwhelm you. Keep Jesus as the focus, not the challenges.
Before you leave the house each day this week, repeat what we just did. If more challenges come up, add them to the challenges on the challenge card. But always remember to place the Jesus card on top and zoom in your focus on Jesus, the One who will give you the strength to endure any challenge. You won’t be able to see the challenges when you focus on Him. You might want to give each student a paperclip so they can keep the two cards together.
For a closing prayer, recite Philippians 4:13. Ask God to develop your faith by helping all of you to keep your eyes on Him, depending fully on Jesus to give the strength you need in any challenge you face.
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