Sabbath School Lesson for July 2-8, 2022

Overview of Lesson 2

There are many causes and categories of crucibles, those trials that tend to upend our lives. We will see in our lesson this week crucibles…

  • that appear suddenly, and often catch us off guard (Sunday)
  • that Satan has designed to crush our spirit with defeat (Monday)
  • that may come as a consequence of our unrighteous lifestyle (Tuesday)
  • that have the potential to purify our character and make us better people (Wednesday)
  • that often grow our faith, making us spiritually stronger (Thursday)

We must realize that Jesus wasn’t the only One who had a crucible. We know His suffering was great, but His life and death give us the strength to manage our own lives of pain and suffering.

With God’s grace, we too may be an example, providing others with the fortitude necessary to survive their worst moments in the crucibles of life. Joy is possible with the realization that we are suffering with Christ and for Him. A beautiful, happy future in eternity is ours, despite these fiery trials.

Memory Text: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12, 13 NKJV

New Century Version: My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory.”

Sunday: Surprises (1 Peter 4:12-19)

Our “fiery trials” seem magnified when they come upon us suddenly. They often seem bigger and more likely to crush us when they appear out of nowhere.

Happy surprises are always a welcome occurrence in life. A surprise birthday celebration, a visit from a loved one you haven’t seen for a long time, news of a desired pregnancy that you have longed for. These kind of surprises naturally provide us with joy and happiness. When surprises of a more negative nature occur, however, such as a car accident, a terminal illness, or the loss of a job, we flounder instead with self-pity, guilt, feelings of defeat, and doubt.

We must remember that no matter when or how our crucible comes, God is there to walk us through it. The surprise may even draw us to Him quicker, because the “fire” seems so hot by comparison. No matter the circumstance, God wants us to rejoice in Him. It’s possible to reach a state of peace and happiness, even when we’re still experiencing the crucible.

Questions to Discuss:

1 Peter 4:12-19

  • What’s the difference in suffering for Christ and suffering for other reasons?
  • Can both kinds of trials bring us closer to God? Why and how?

Matthew 5:3, 4, 10-12

  • How is it possible to rejoice when we have a crisis?
  • When does this rejoicing start? And what does it look like?

Monday: Crucibles of Satan (1 Peter 5:8-11)

The source of many, if not all, of our crucibles is Satan, the author of death, suffering, and destruction. But this knowledge should not discourage or frighten us. God’s Son has defeated the enemy Satan. When we stay connected to Jesus, His victory is ours.

1 Peter 5:10 reminds us that our suffering is short-lived, just temporary. We can reap bountiful blessings through our time of testing. We come out of it more perfect, established, and strong.

Although we can’t avoid Satan’s attacks, we can remain firm in our commitment to God, the author and finisher of our faith. 1 Peter 5:6, 7 gives wise counsel. When we are humble before God, He will exalt us. And we do it simply because He cares for us. We can cast all our cares on Him (even those in our crucible).

Questions to Discuss:

1 Peter 5:8, 9

  • Why and how are we vigilant against Satan?
  • Why does Satan attack so many of God’s children?

1 Peter 5:10-11

  • What can crucibles do for us?

1 Peter 5:6, 7

  • Why and how can we cast our cares on God? And how does this help us through our crucibles?

Tuesday: Crucibles of Sin (Romans 1:21-32)

The most difficult crucibles we endure are often the ones that are the result of our own wrong actions. When we fail to live up to God’s standards, consequences do happen to many of us. All of us will eventually reap what we sow, either on this earth or in eternity.

We have trials that are the result of our unwise choices, even perhaps after we have turned our lives over to God and are currently following Him. In addition to blaming ourselves for our consequences, we often find ourselves blaming God for allowing them.

The list of misbehaviors is long in Romans 1:21-32. Its purpose is not to condemn us, however, but to remind us that only by choosing to stay connected to our Creator will we be able to overcome Satan and survive the consequences of our many unrighteous behaviors.

Questions to Discuss:

Romans 1:24

  • How does God give them up to their uncleanness? What does this mean?

Romans 1:29-32

  • Why is it important for us to have this exhaustive list of sins?
  • If we don’t think we fit in any of these categories, which one are we probably guilty of?
  • Why do we have a tendency to see these sins in others, rather than ourselves? How do crucibles help correct this?

Wednesday: Crucibles of Purification (Jeremiah 9:7-16)

We know that the Israelites at times struggled with sin, and many prophets warned them about problems they were creating for themselves. They would never be the shining examples of holiness that God desired them to be, if they continued on their reckless paths of self-destruction, following the gods of their fathers.

Jeremiah described this sad state of affairs and warned them that God would allow consequences that would hopefully draw them away from their disobedience and unrepentant hearts. See Jeremiah 9:7-16.

The testing of a crucible has the potential to refine and purify us. It brings sin to our attention and motivates us to live differently, in accordance with God’s will. God knows that drastic steps must be taken, if drastic changes are needed. Crucibles can reveal our sins, and hopefully draw us closer to God in the process as we try to steer free of them.

Questions to Discuss:

Jeremiah 9:7-14

  • What had caused them to forsake God’s law?

Jeremiah 9:15-17

  • What kind of crucible was in store for God’s people?

Thursday: Crucibles of Maturity (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

We’ve seen crucibles that are the result of sin in general, or some sin we may be guilty of either currently or in the past. But there is also testing through a crucible for no other purpose than to make us more mature Christians.

Paul notably was aware of this kind of trial. He called his a “thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). This verse says it was “given” to him, blaming it on a messenger of Satan. Its purpose, however, was to keep him from being exalted, or thinking better of himself than others. The context of this verse describes a vision of paradise Paul received. It would have been easy for him to feel proud and boast of these revelations. So he graciously received this crucible experience and recognized its value in keeping him humble.

Bible scholars speculate on what this “thorn” was. Some have thought perhaps it was a speech difficulty, but most likely it involved his eyesight. Galatians 6:11 mentioned “large letters I have written to you with my own hand”. Perhaps this was why he regularly used scribes to write for him. Acts 28 also relates a time when Paul bent down to pick up a stick and found it was a snake. It’s reasonable to think that he may not have fully recovered from the blindness he experienced one day on the road to Damascus, when he was converted.

Paul prayed for this “thorn” to leave him. But when it didn’t, he allowed God’s grace to be his strength. God can use our weaknesses and disabilities to make us rely on Him more. We, too, can be made stronger and more perfect despite our personal weaknesses.

Questions to Discuss:

2 Corinthians 12:7

  • Who gave Paul this “thorn”?
  • What was the “thorn” designed to do?

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

  • How should we feel about our weaknesses and disabilities, and why?
  • What can be the result of them?

Friday: Final Thoughts

As we have seen from various scriptures, suffering is common to mankind–with many sources, causes, and results to consider. No matter how or why crucibles come to us, we can know that Satan is involved, that often our own sins are involved, and always God is involved, as He is the source of our strength in getting through them.

It’s important to recognize the types of crucibles that affect our lives so critically. Understanding them helps us draw the best lessons from them as we turn to God for answers to our questions. Questions such as: Why did God allow this? What part did I play in causing this to happen? Why does it feel like God has forsaken me? What can I learn from what I am going through?

Jesus, the gentle Shepherd, will guide us through the answers to these valid questions. Considering them before tragedy strikes can prepare us to survive the worst life can throw at us.

As this song boldly declares, “I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well”. Rely on Him to guide you through your “fiery trials”. Only God knows the answers. Only God can bring you through your crucible.

Next Week: The Birdcage

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