A Patience Game and Discussion
- Kids split into two teams on either side of the room.
- One player from each team comes to the middle of the room and sits in a chair facing the other player.
- On "go" they must sit quietly STARING at each other. First one to move or crack a smile scores a point for the other team. The players and other team members may not make any distracting moves or sounds. If they do, a point is awarded to the other team. Blinking and slight movements permitted (adjust how your referee this to your group). (After 60 seconds, award both a point.)
Variation: for larger groups, have a pair of kids from each team play at the same time.
Comment: How hard was it to wait/be patient? What did you do to patiently wait?
4. Now play a shorter version of the game allowing one player to try and provoke a smile or response from the other (without touching or coming within 1 ft of the other player). Set a time limit of 30 seconds. Award a point to the team who's player waits out the distraction.
How hard is it to wait and NOT respond to the other player? What helps you be patient? What things in your life are giving you STRESS...and what things are trying to distract you from worshiping God, for example. What things are distracting people from Peace? from helping others? from enjoying life? from following Jesus? (greed, selfishness, too much homework?) Write their responses on the board.
Now tell the class the whole story of the Old Testament in under 60 seconds....all the promises given from Abraham through Exodus, to the Kings, and all the people hoped for (a righteous King they could trust who would protect and provide for them).
Set the stage for what's happening in Isaiah 7: 13-14 (Emmanuel), and Isaiah 9 (people who have walked in darkness)....
Northern Israel has been conquered and Jerusalem is under seige by the Assyrian Empire. Judah/Jerusalem's King Ahaz has tried to appease (please) the Assyrians and failed. Ahaz had let the Temple deteriorate and was a bad king. His son Hezekiah fixed the Temple and tried to prepare Jerusalem to hold off the Assyrian army. Isaiah spent his days warning Ahaz and then Hezekiah that disaster was coming. But in the middle of all his warnings, Isaiah relayed God's message of hope for the future, ...a time when a new kind of King would reign over the people. A Messiah. But it wouldn't happen for 800 more years. (THAT'S PATIENCE!) See "why we had to wait" below....
Question: Why did God take so long and make us wait?
This is an important question to answer with your kids. Have Bibles ready to refer to the passages. You might assign them ahead of time.
Here are some thoughts about 'why' God makes us wait:
Answer 1: Patience produces good things. (aka "Patience is a virtue") As Paul said in Romans 5:3-5 "suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not disappoint us...."
Answer 2: God does not view history, time and suffering like humans do. We don't understand all the reasons why God took 800 years, but we believe it is part of God's larger plan for humanity and history. God doesn't count years like we do. Like Psalm 90 says, "A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." It has been said that "life is a lesson we are being taught, and that lesson is that we are not God, and instead, are here to trust God."
Life Application: What this means for me personally is that I am a small part of God's great plan. The things I do are part of a larger plan that I must trust in. Isaiah did not live to see his predictions come true, but they did. I may not live to see the results of my actions either, at least in this life, but I trust God that "all things work together for good...." (Romans 8:28)
Perhaps people are IMpatient because they think that they "only have so many years to do things before they die." But as Christians, we believe in heaven. Life continues here without us, and in heaven for us in a way we can only imagine. If you think you must "succeed" in order to get into heaven, then you cannot afford to be patience! But our access to heaven is not based on our 'works.' This point of view produces patients, which is a form of HUMILITY. (This is not to say we should do nothing to change the world. We should! ...but it teaches us that WE are not the center of the universe, God is).
Jesus addresses a similar idea in Luke 6:22-23 -Luke's version of the Beatitudes: "Blessed are you when people hate you, avoid you, insult you, and slander you because you are committed to the Son of Man. Rejoice then, and be very happy! You have a great reward in heaven. That's the way their ancestors treated the prophets."