Responding to suffering

Posted on June 02, 2008 by Amy Tolmie

This resource gives you an outline of a lesson plan. It has been uploaded here to show how one schools worker dealt with the topic of the Christian response to suffering, and is hoped it will help you to think about looking at this topic through different angles.

Coping with suffering through acceptance and prayer

Lesson aim: to give students an understanding of the different ways that Christians cope with suffering and to encourage students to think about how they might deal with suffering in their own lives.

chat show clip (e.g. Mel and Kim on Trisha 2005)
video clip of caterpillar turning into butterfly
agony aunt worksheet (Agony_Aunt_Worksheet.pdf)
photo booth (mac) or other video recording equipment

Recap of the previous lessons on suffering

How do we cope with suffering?
Watch chat show clip of someone who has experienced suffering.

"After watching the clip, can we think of some ways that people cope with suffering?"
Write up ideas on the board.

You may choose to write out your own scenarios if these are too sensitive for your group. This whole lesson has to be appropriate for the class you are teaching, so make sure you are aware of relevant situations before this lesson and plan accordingly.

Their task is to write an agony aunt (or uncle) column to respond to one of the problems on the worksheet.

Optional extra
Whilst they are doing the worksheet, you could ask each pupil up in turn to record a video diary describing one particular time when they have gone through suffering and how they tried to cope with it.

If appropriate, the videos could then be played back to the class, if the students are happy for this, and if the class is mature enough to watch and respond respectfully.

How Christians cope with suffering

• Through accepting the reality of the suffering and that suffering exists.
Share an outline of the story of Job, and conclude by saying that Job accepted that God was still supreme. he trusted God, and knew that God didn't leave him at any time during his suffering.
• Knowing that God cares for us in our suffering.
Read passage from the Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis (Narnia series), the beginning of chapter 12.
• Realising that suffering can transform us and grow us.
Watch the caterpillar into butterfly clip, or describe the process a moth goes through to become a butterfly (I found a great description in the middle of an article here, but you can summarise it!).
• Suffering brings you closer to God because he cares for you in your suffering. Many Christians and spiritual people would agree that they know God closest when suffering.
Quote “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf worldâ€. C.S Lewis.
• Prayer – asking God to be with us and others through suffering.
Helps you feel like you are doing something and not always helpless. God hears our prayers and meets us in our suffering.

Other ways to cope with suffering

• through writing (diaries, poems, letters)
• art
• talking to one another
• venting aggression in appropriate ways (playing sport, shouting into a pillow, punching a pillow punch bag etc)

Closing Reflection
Ask the class to close their eyes whilst you read these questions several times slowly:
How do you deal with life when it gets tough?
Who can you look to for support?
What new things have you learnt about coping with suffering today?