Sabbath School Summary
By Dr Elder Masimba Mavaza
Memory Text: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand” (Isaiah 53:10, NKJV).
As the wife of the famous Christian writer C. S. Lewis was dying, Lewis wrote, “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like.’ ”—A Grief Observed (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1961), pp. 6, 7.
When things become really painful, some of us reject God completely. For others, like Lewis, there is the temptation to change our view of God and imagine all sorts of bad things about Him. The question is, Just how hot can it get? How much heat is God willing to risk putting His people through in order to bring about His ultimate purpose of shaping us into the “image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29, NIV)?
The Week at a Glance: Why do you think God is willing to risk being misunderstood by those He wants to know Him and love Him? How much do you think God is willing to be misunderstood in order to mold you into the “image of his Son”?
SABBATH: Where’s God in times of trials? Probing the whereabouts of God in times of pain is a very human response. When the wife of the famous writer, C.S. Lewis was dying, his real query was not; “so there’s no God after all,” but “so this is what God’s really like.” Our best views of God can change for the worst when tested. How much heat is God keen to risk putting us through to refine us? (Rom. 8:29).
SUNDAY: Often, God’s reason for our pain is masked for a time. Our call is to faith & not to know. Why will God abruptly ask Abraham to slay his only son & heir (Gen. 22)? If God knows everything, what’s the point of testing us? The test was not random but for Abraham to know the great sacrifice of His only Son on the Cross (PP, p. 147, 154). God did not desire for Isaac to die but just a test (John 8:56).
MONDAY: Just look at the extreme methods God can use to draw us back to Himself; Israel sinned & prostituted with other gods. God ask Hosea to remarry & show love to His wife, Gomer, a prostitute, who runs away & has children with other men (Hosea 1 & 2:1-12). We risk not knowing God is at work. It might have been hard for Israel to see God’s care in the test. We risk misunderstanding God in our tests.
TUESDAY: God calls Job to Satan’s attention in heaven while Job is oblivious about it on earth. It’s not God but Satan who causes Job to suffer (Job 1:6-2:10). But it’s clear that God is the One who allowed Satan. How can God be holy in this? Is this a special case or is how God also deals with us today? In our tests, we can be bitter about God or better with God. Job chose to hang on with God (Job 1:20, 21).
WEDNESDAY: Our test can feel like a death sentence. Paul was tested more than many men but he was not crushed. He survived & thrived through hope in God (2 Cor. 1:8, 9; 11:23-29; 1:3-11). The apostle says suffering can be a call to ministry. God wants us to comfort those who’re hurting. He first allows us to some extent get hurt. Then we offer practical testimonies (Heb. 4:15). God is mighty to save!
THURSDAY: Instead of questioning the existence & whereabouts of God in times of struggle on this sin-sick earth, why not wait to ask Him when we get to heaven? We’ll only grasp little about the extreme heat we face here. In heaven, we’ll know more (1 Cor. 4:5, 13:12). It’s easy to think of God as a bully but He cares even in our crucibles. His waters purge us & His fires refine us; Red Sea (Isa. 43:1-7, Ps. 23).
FRIDAY: “God has always tried His people in the furnace of affliction. It is in the heat of the furnace that the dross is removed from the true gold of the Christian Character.“ Jesus knows what’s needed to purify the precious metal to reflect the light of His love. He watches the test. He qualifies the called through tests. He shows them their own flaws & bid them to lean on Him. Day or night, trust God!
—Ellen G. White, “The Test of Faith,” pp. 145–155, in Patriarchs and Prophets; “Praise Ye the Lord,” pp. 315–319, in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5.
PP- Patriarchs and Prophets
Heat- Trials, tests, and tribulations.
Crossing the Red Sea & River Jordan- It represents God’s baptism of Israel to purge them with His water & refine them with His fire.
Job- A righteous man who experienced the Great Controversy in his life. In all his struggles, He did not curse God. He remained with God till he received double blessings for his troubles.
Extreme Heat- God is willing to go to any extent just to save us. His desire to save shows us His love.
SUNDAY- Abraham in the Crucible
MONDAY- Wayward Israel
TUESDAY- Surviving Through Worship
WEDNESDAY- Surviving Through Hope
THURSDAY- Extreme Heat
📌 In class, have someone recount his or her own test of faith that, if not quite as intense as Abraham’s, was still hard enough. What can you learn from that person’s experience, from his or her successes or failures?
📌 Review the last 24 hours of Christ’s life before His crucifixion. What extremes did He face? How did He endure? What principles can we take from His example and apply for ourselves when we are in the midst of our own crucibles?
📌 Discuss the idea, touched on this week, about how through our own suffering we can minister to others who are suffering. No matter how true it might be, what are some of the problems we might encounter with this idea?
📌 Ellen G. White wrote above: “Let us trust Him in the darkness as well as in the day.” That’s easier said than done. How can we help each other develop the kind of faith that will enable us to do just that? Why is it important to trust God in the bad times?