Introduction: Many people alive today have had a relatively easy
life. Imagine what it was like to be a young person in Europe 100
years ago. You would experience, if you survived, two major wars. My
dear father grew up in a poor family during the Great Depression,
and then was drafted into the army during World War II. He found
himself part of the invasion of Normandy and spent 33 months in a
war zone. Many people of that generation had a similar experience.
What if your life seemed destined for especially unfavorable
treatment? Would you be able to “bounce back?” Would you show
resilience? Let’s dive into our Bible study and see what we can
learn from those who faced difficult times!

  1. Joseph

    1. Read Genesis 37:3, Genesis 39:6, and Genesis 37:5-7. What
      kind of attitude about life do you think Joseph
      possessed? (He was clearly superior. First, he was part
      of a wealthy family. He was better-looking than most
      others and he was favored by his father. God sent him
      dreams that he would be a ruler. He had constant
      reinforcement about his own importance.)

    2. Read Genesis 37:28. Review the things that made Joseph
      special, and tell me how many are left after he had been
      sold as a slave? (He has his good looks. He has lost the
      support of his family, he has lost his wealth and status.
      Instead of a future as a ruler, he has much to fear in
      his future as a foreign slave. He has his God, but His
      God has not kept him from this!)

    3. Read Genesis 39:17-20. Compare Joseph’s dreams, hopes and
      plans as a young man, with his present reality – a slave
      imprisoned for attempted rape. Could things get any
      worse? (He has lost everything. He is at the bottom, not
      the top.)

    4. Read Genesis 41:14-15. If you were Joseph, would you feel
      that this was your one great chance to turn your
      miserable life around?

    5. Read Genesis 41:16. Is this how you would have answered
      if you were Joseph?

      1. Hasn’t Joseph had enough of humility? Why should he
        start out with “I cannot do it?” (It shows his
        continuing faith and dependence on God.)

      2. Would you still trust in God if you had been through
        all of these problems?

        1. Put yourself in Joseph’s head. To be able to
          still trust God, what would you have to
          believe? That God has a strange way of
          rewarding His followers? (If we had read the
          entire story, we would have seen that Joseph
          does well even when he suffers a serious set
          back. But, aside from those brief favorable
          experiences, Joseph has to believe that faith
          in God is not dependant upon his success in
          life. It is not dependant upon visible rewards.
          Faith is about God, not about Joseph.)

    6. Read Genesis 41:39-40. Why does Pharaoh start out with a
      reference to Joseph’s God? Why not start out “You are
      fabulous at interpreting dreams, Joseph! I need to keep
      you around the palace.” (If Joseph had tried to take
      credit, Pharaoh would have thought Joseph a bright and
      perceptive fellow. But, because Joseph gives all the
      credit and glory to God, Pharaoh believes that Joseph is
      the portal to access the power of a new and incredibly
      powerful God. Pharaoh is getting more than just a
      talented human.)

    7. What lesson does Joseph’s story teach us about how to
      deal with incredible problems? (Faith is about who God
      is, and not about how we are doing. Holding on to God,
      even when God’s interest is not obvious, is the key to
      resilience. God asks us to trust Him and trust His

    8. Read Romans 5:1-5. What does faith in our salvation do
      for us? (It gives us “peace with God” and joy in our
      ultimate hope. It is the platform from which we view all
      other experiences in life.)

      1. How are the kind of problems that Joseph faced
        helpful to us? (Problems teach us resilience. They
        develop our character. They give us hope.)

        1. Hope in what? In Romans 5:1 we are talking
          about the hope of eternal life. Is Paul talking
          about the same hope in Romans 5:4? (Yes. First,
          seeing God work through our problems gives us
          confidence that He will give us eternal life.
          Second, dealing with problems makes eternal
          life (where problems will not exist) even more

        2. Have you ever had more pleasure in the
          anticipation of something, than the actual
          event? (Heaven will be more than we can
          imagine. But, hope in heaven can give us

        3. I’ve suggested a couple of times that faith is
          about God, not about you. Is that what Paul
          says? (Grace is about us! God died for us.
          Knowing that God conquered sin and death gives
          us hope in the midst of our sufferings.)

      2. How do you understand Romans 5:5? Hope in eternal
        life is our long-term goal. What does God’s love and
        the Holy Spirit have to do with that? (We are able
        to have proof of heaven now by the working of the
        Holy Spirit in our life. God’s love, through the
        power of the Holy Spirit, is poured into our

    9. Read Genesis 45:4-7. Has God’s love been poured into
      Joseph’s heart?

  2. Educated Suffering

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 1:2. What does Paul wish for the
      Christians at Corinth? (Grace and peace.)

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3. What is God’s role in helping us
      when we suffer? (God has compassion on us. God is the
      ultimate source of all comfort.)

    3. Read 2 Corinthians 1:4-5. Have you ever considered your
      problems to be an education?

      1. How can problems help us to comfort others? (If we
        learn from our problems, we can teach others who
        face the same problems. Notice that the text says
        that God’s comfort to us in difficult times allows
        us to comfort others.)

      2. Are your sufferings anything like what Jesus
        suffered at the cross? (Paul makes that parallel. He
        says that just like Jesus’ suffering blesses your
        life, so your suffering can bless the lives of

  3. Esther

    1. Read Esther 2:5-7. List the problems in Esther’s young
      life? (Her parents had died. She was raised by a
      Mordecai, a male relative – so it seems she did not have
      a woman in her life. She was also a Jewish captive.)

    2. Read Esther 2:8-10. In Esther 2:1-4 we are told that King
      Xerxes is running the first “Bachelor” contest. The
      authorities have entered Esther into this contest. Why
      did Mordecai not allow Esther to reveal her nationality?
      (She was Jewish – one of the captives.)

      1. What does this show us about Mordecai’s interest in
        the bachelor contest? (He wants Esther to win!)

    3. Read Esther 2:17-18. Is Esther like Joseph? (Yes. She
      gets promoted to the top after being at the bottom.)

    4. Esther chapter 3 records that a high noble in the court
      of King Xerxes hates Mordecai. To get rid of Mordecai, he
      engineered a law which would allow him to kill all the
      Jews on the 13th day of Adar. Mordecai turned to Queen
      Esther for help. Read Esther 4:10. Will Esther help? (She
      seems to be saying it is too dangerous.)

    5. Read Esther 4:12-14. Do you think Esther’s life was
      really in danger? (I doubt it, unless Mordecai has been
      given a prophesy from God.)

      1. Was Esther in a position similar to that of Joseph?
        (Yes, she could save the lives of many.)

      2. How was Esther’s situation different than that of
        Joseph? (They both suffered. They both were elevated
        to a very high post. But, in saving others Esther
        had to risk her life and her position.)

    6. Read Esther 4:15-16. What does Esther teach us about
      resilience? (The goal of resilience is not to achieve
      power and wealth like Joseph – although that might
      happen. The goal of resilience is to remain faithful to
      God so that you can bless others. This is one of the
      things 2 Corinthians 1:4 teaches us.)

    7. Do you see a parallel between Esther and Jesus? (She put
      her life on the line to save the lives of others. Again,
      this is what we discussed earlier in 2 Corinthians 1:5-6:
      our suffering may end up being a blessing for others!)

    8. Friend, if you are suffering today, I invite you to ask
      God to give you resilience and help you see how your
      suffering can bless others.

  4. Next week: Self-Esteem.