If your class is meeting online, have teens come to class with index cards and pens/pencils.
As students gather in group time today, hand each student an index card and a pencil or pen and have him or her write down one person and one thing that is irreplaceable. The point of this exercise is to show that all of us have people and things that we care deeply about and that to be without them would cause us suffering on some level.
After students have had a chance to write down their person and thing, invite volunteers to share about either the person or thing that they wrote about. As their teacher, it is important for you to take part also. Using nonspiritual examples, jot your own irreplaceable person and thing down and share for a few minutes with the group about what you wrote down.
People can’t be replaced. If someone you love dies, this loss will bring pain and suffering. Even if the loved one is a believer and you are confident he or she is in heaven, those on earth left behind will feel some loss for the rest of their lives. If a person betrays you or a friend moves away, those losses can also cause suffering. If an object is lost, stolen, or destroyed, it is easy to feel as if the pain should be less than the loss of a person, but it still is a tremendous hurt. Those who shared about losing a cellphone, laptop, electronic device, a note from a friend, or a favorite childhood stuffed animal/keepsake may have felt they somehow suffered in not having this item any longer.
Affirm to your students that of course people are more precious than things, but losing anyone or anything important causes suffering.
The city of Beirut (bay-root), in the country of Lebanon, was recently affected by a large explosion. Many people lost their homes, thousands of people were injured, and some people even lost their loved ones in this disaster.
It’s easy to ask the question, “Why is suffering part of life?” when confronted with so much loss and devastation. It isn’t wrong to question—in fact, it is a normal reaction to pain and loss. Watch the following clip about the explosion in Beirut and try to imagine how you might feel if these images were depicting your home town.
Play the video for the class [0:00-0:45]:
Deadly explosion in Beirut: How to help to the victims in Lebanon
Discuss the following questions with students.
- What kinds of suffering do you think these people are facing? (Loss of property, loss of lives, damaged goods and things, lack of food and sanitation, cars destroyed, communication disrupted, power out.)
- People in this region are often poor by American standards. How might they rebuild their lives after a tragedy of this magnitude? (Answers will vary. Invite discussion. Remind students that although some of these people don’t have much material wealth, they have their lives, each other in community, and God. He is with those who trust in Him! Students may talk about the necessity of government aid, rescue groups, and volunteers from other countries stepping up, etc.)
Today’s lesson is about answering the questions we face when confronted with suffering. Job, the person we’ll look at, faced suffering that is incomparable to any news story today. Yet Job had a unique outlook on his suffering. Let’s look further at Job’s reactions to his suffering and see what we can learn about suffering from studying him.