3. Genesis Bible Lessons for Youth: The Story of Joseph
Supplies: You’ll need Bibles, a CD player or MP3 player, J.J. Heller’s song “Your Hands” from the album Painted Red, TV/DVD player, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade DVD.
Welcome kids and explain that you’ll present the group with a series of “What if?” scenarios. They’ll decide how upset the situation would make them and will express it by standing somewhere in the room. Identify one wall as “10” (the most upset a person could possibly be), the opposite wall as 1 (not even slightly upset), and the middle of the room as a “5” on the spectrum.
Offer a variety of mild and silly scenarios (like, “What if your cat decided your bed was her new litter box?”) as well as mid-level and seriously upsetting situations (like, “What if you lost your wallet or purse?” and “What if a teacher accused you of cheating on a final?”). Be certain to include these three scenarios:
• What if your siblings beat you up?
• What if you were kidnapped and sold into the slave trade in a distant country?
• Finally, what if you were imprisoned for a crime you didn’t commit?
Afterward, point out that three of the upsetting things actually happened to Joseph in the Bible: his brothers attacked him and sold him as a slave, then he was taken to Egypt where he was imprisoned for a sexual assault he didn’t commit.
Read Genesis 37:18-36 and 39:1-20 together, then say: If anybody had a good reason to despise his family, hate God, and completely lose his faith, it’s Joseph!
Explain that years later, Joseph had the perfect opportunity to take serious revenge on his brothers. Read Genesis 50:15-21 together, then ask: Why do you think Joseph responded this way?
Help teenagers really “step inside” Joseph’s story using follow-up questions like:
• What would be the natural response to this situation?
• How do you usually instinctively react when you’ve been wronged? Explain.
• What do you think gave Joseph this perspective on his situation?
Show a scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade starting at about 0:26:50 when Indy approaches the library; stop the clip at about 0:29:05 when Indy says, “X marks the spot.”
Say: Indiana Jones couldn’t see things clearly ’til he got a completely new perspective.
Talk with your group about clinging to God’s perspective. Zero in on Genesis 50:20. Emphasize that it would be completely justifiable for Joseph to bitterly take revenge on his brothers. Instead, he saw his situation—all his terror and pain—from God’s perspective.
Have kids form trios and ask them to discuss these questions:
• How does a person get to this point—how can somebody honestly step out of their pain or frustration or rage and see their circumstances from the perspective of God?
• By the time Joseph said this, a lot of time had passed. He was able to see the tough times in hindsight and see how God used them. Describe a situation in your life that you can look back on with hindsight and see how God was at work.
• Rewind back to a lonely, dark night in prison for Joseph. What about then? What does trust in God look like when you’re smack dab in the middle of suffering?
Emphasize that there are times when life feels completely unfair, utterly painful, or absolutely infuriating. But we can learn from Joseph’s story that God still loves us and is still at work!
Read aloud Romans 8:28, then invite your teenagers to spend some time quietly praying about their desire to trust in God’s during times of pain and frustration. As they pray, play indie artist J.J. Heller’s song “Your Hands.” Kids can use the song to guide their prayers.
This article about Genesis Bible lessons for youth by David and Kelli Trujillo originally appeared here.