Lesson 5: Under Pressure!
Many adults think children don’t know the first thing about stress. And, while children may not know what to call it, they certainly deal with their fair share of it every single day. From pressure to do drugs, to pressure to do well in sports, to pressure to make good grades, to pressure to have a lot of friends and act a certain way: life can be pretty overwhelming to a child. No matter who we are, when we begin to feel the stress and pressures of life beating down on us, there is one place we can go for rest...the presence of God. It is there we can find peace for our tired and stressed out souls. His peace is amazing and can only be found in His presence.
Leader: Today we are talking about how to DEAL WITH...
Mr. Crabbe: (comes up all frantic and hurrying around) What are you doing just standing around? They’re gonna be here any minute! Hurry up! We got too much to do! Hurry it up I tell ya!
Leader: Who’s going to be here, Mr. Crabbe?
Mr. Crabbe: My grandkids! They’re coming to visit. And this place looks like a bomb went off in here. And look at you, you look like you just rolled out of bed! Could your hair be any MORE messed up? You look like a wet poodle who just went through the dryer at the Laundromat! Do something with that hair! They’re gonna get here and we won’t be ready! HURRY! HURRY!
Leader: Mr. Crabbe, I am glad your grandkids are coming, but do you really need to be freaking out like this?
Mr. Crabbe: Well, what do you expect me to do, sit around holding hands and singing “Kumbayah?” I gotta get things ready. I gotta pick up the mess. I gotta (suddenly looks like he slips and flies up in the air screaming) AHHYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAA!
Leader: Mr. Crabbe, are you ok?
Mr. Crabbe: No, I am not OK, and I sure wish the next time you see Silly Willy you can tell him to pick up his cotton picking skateboard when he’s done with it. I nearly sprained my spleen!
Leader: Mr. Crabbe, you sure seem way too stressed.
Mr. Crabbe: Well, of course I am stressed. I have my grandkids coming and the place ain’t ready. What do you expect me to do except run around here like a cross-eyed porcupine? It’s all you can do when you’re as stressed as me.
Leader: Well, actually there is something else you can do.
Mr. Crabbe: What’s that? Run away?
Leader: No. The kids are learning today that when you feel the pressures of life coming down on you and feel all stressed out...the place to go is God’s presence. His peace fills our hearts and he calms our stress.
Mr. Crabbe: Well, I don’t think I have time to pray. I am in a hurry.
Leader: Actually, Mr. Crabbe, you really can’t afford NOT to pray. If you keep going the way you’re going...you might have a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. It’s time to chill out and let God bring His peace into your life.
Mr. Crabbe: (still a bit worked up) Well, OK. I am willing to try. What do I do?
Leader: Just close your eyes...take a deep breath...and let’s pray. “Dear God, I thank You that Your presence is always with us. I thank you that when we feel stressed out, all we have to do is close our eyes and breathe in Your presence. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing. If we close our eyes and just let you come in and fill us with your peace...all the stress just melts away. Help Mr. Crabbe not to be so stressed out. Let his visit with his family be wonderful and not filled with all this stress and pressure. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Well, how do you feel now?
Mr. Crabbe: My goodness gracious. I feel so much better. I mean, feel that...my heart’s slowed down and it ain’t beatin’ a hundred miles a minute like a hyperactive jackrabbit. I feel so much more at peace. Thanks for helping me out.
Leader: Oh, it was our pleasure, Mr. Crabbe. Just remember, “If You’re Stressed, Come To God For Rest!”
Mr. Crabbe: I definitely will! Gotta go before my grandkids show up. See ya later, kids!
Leader: Bye, Mr. Crabbe. Kids, when you feel stressed from school, family issues, friends, sports, or whatever...just stop, take a minute to breathe in God’s peace, and watch the stress just melt away.
Choose five boys and five girls to compete in this game. Give each of them a straw and have them stand in two lines at the starting line.
Tell the first person in each line to get on their hands and knees. Place a ping pong ball in front of them. Pick a point at the other end of the room as the “turnaround point.” When you “GO” the children must use the straw to blow their team’s ping pong ball (no touching with any part of your body) to the other end of the room and back. When they get back to the starting line, the next person in line takes over and does the same thing. The first team to have each player complete the task WINS!
After the game say, “Kids, sometimes we can feel just like the ball in this game. We feel pushed and blown in a hundred directions because of all the stress and pressure on us. When we feel stressed, we have to come to Jesus and allow Him to fill our lives with peace.
In preparation read Luke 10:38-42 and familiarize yourself with the story.
Life is hard. There are so many things to do, so many people to please, and so much pressure to “be the best.” Even kids face stress every single day. How many of you have ever felt really stressed out when you are about to take a test? (allow the kids to raise their hands) You wonder if you’re going to make a good grade or if your parents and teachers are going to be pleased with you, huh? How many of you have ever felt stressed when you were playing in a sports game? (allow the kids to raise their hands) You feel like everyone is watching you and if you mess up you are letting your team down. How about when you were about to give a report in front of the class or about to pray in front of a group or about to sing in a contest? (allow the kids to raise their hands)
There’s a lot of things that make us feel stressed out. Just going through life and doing all the things we have to do: school, tests, sports, friends, family, etc. causes us so much stress. Do you know what stress is? It’s that feeling that there is so much to do and so many things going on in your life that you are totally being pressed down and crushed. (pull out the cutting board and the tomato and place them on the table) Pretend this tomato is you. When you are feeling stress, it’s almost as if life is pressing down on you (begin to press the cutting board down on the tomato, making the juice spew out as you crush it) and crushing you. There are so many things to do and so much pressure that you feel like you are being crushed. I want you to watch this video clip about a man who had a VERY stressful time as a child.
Some of you know what he is talking about. You deal with stress all the time at school and at home. What happens when you are stressed? You get angry easier, you complain more, and most of the time you are sooooo tired. There was a woman in the Bible who felt this way, too. Her name was Martha. Martha and her sister, Mary, were having Jesus over for dinner. Jesus was sitting in the living room teaching and spending time with everyone.
Martha was running around the house trying to get everything taken care of: cleaning, cooking, preparing, and stressing out! She was so upset because her sister, Mary, was in the living room with Jesus while Martha was taking care of all the details. Martha was stressed out big-time. She ran into the living room and said to Jesus, “Lord, isn't it so unfair that Mary is in here with you while I am taking care of everything else?” Jesus said something very interesting back to her. He said, “Martha, Mary is exactly where you need to be...with me. Instead of stressing out over all these details, you should be right here with me as well.”
You see, kids, if we try to take care of all the stress of tests, pressures, quizzes, sports, family, and friends all by ourselves we will end up hurting ourselves. (pick up the glass of water and hold it out to your side with your arm straight out) How much do you think this glass of water weighs? (allow the children to guess) Well, the truth is when you hold this simple glass of water for about five minutes, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But, if you tried to hold it up for an hour, your arm would start to get sore. If you tried to hold it for three hours, you would start to hurt very bad. If you tried to hold it up all day long, we might have to call an ambulance. But, if you set it down for awhile and rest, then come back and pick it up it doesn’t seem so heavy.
If we try to hold up all the stress of life by ourselves, we can do ourselves a lot of harm. So, how do we DEAL WITH IT? We should do what Jesus says in our Power Verse. If you are stressed..
Jesus says that when we are stressed and feel worn down by the pressure and stress of life, come to Him and He will give us rest. He can give us the peace we need to make it through the stress. Just like when you put down the glass of water and come back to it you can carry it so much longer than if you tried to keep going without stopping. Jesus said if we STOP, come to Him, and allow Him to give us rest, we will be able to handle the stress of life so much better. Just watch and see what happened when the man in our video did just that.
So, today, many of you are stressed. You have been feeling like that tomato...crushed. You may feel like Martha...worried about all the things you have to do, what people are thinking about you, and other things. Well, this morning we are going to do exactly what our Power Verse says. We are going to come to Jesus and just sit in His presence and allow His peace to fill our lives.
(play soft music) Have the children who are dealing with stress find a place at the front of the room. Instruct them not to pray at first, but just sit and allow themselves to “soak in” God’s peace. As the soft music plays, let them allow Jesus to surround them with His peace and take all that stress and pressure off their shoulders and place it on His.
What was today’s Big Idea? Answer: If You’re Stressed, Come To God For Rest!
Who was coming to visit Mr. Crabbe? Answer: His grandkids
What did Silly Willy leave out that made Mr. Crabbe fall down? Answer: His skateboard
What was the woman’s name in the Bible Story who was stressed? Answer: Martha
What was Martha’s sister’s name? Answer: Mary
Where was Mary while Martha was working on the house? Answer: In the living room with Jesus
What did Jesus say Martha should have been doing instead of working? Answer: Spending time with Him
If we are stressed, we should come to ______________. Answer: Jesus
Can Jesus help us with our stress? Answer: Yes
Where was our Power Verse found? Answer: Matthew 11:2
At Home Instructions
Big Idea If You’re Stressed, Come To God For Rest!
Power Verse Then Jesus said, "Come to me..., and I will give you rest." – Matthew 11:28
Talk about the following questions:
•What do you think of when you hear the word “stress?”
•What are some things that are stressful to you?
•What do you think life would be like if you had no stress at all?
•How do you deal with life when you feel stressed out?
Explain to your children that stress is an inevitable part of life. In fact, without some stress, we might not ever accomplish anything! Think about the following scenarios:
•A teacher never assigns any tests or homework. Would you ever learn anything?
•Your boss sets no goals or deadlines. Would you ever complete your project?
•Your parents have no rules for you to follow. Would you ever clean your room, brush your teeth, or eat healthy foods?
If you never had any stress, would you ever do the things that aren’t really fun but are really important?
Ask your children to pluck the strings of the guitar, or stretch the rubber band and have them pluck it. Then loosen a guitar string or hold the rubber band loosely and have them pluck it again. Discuss the following:
• What has to happen to the strings or rubber band in order for them to make a sound when you pluck them? (they have to have the proper tension—they need to be pulled tight)
• What would happen if we tightened the string too much or pulled the rubber band too tight?
Explain to your children that some stress in life is good, and there’s even a word for it: eustress. It’s the kind of stress that motivates you to do the things you need to do to bring good things (like good grades, health, fulfillment, etc.) into your life—the guitar string is tightened exactly right and produces a beautiful sound. Distress, on the other hand, is bad stress that brings anxiety, anger, worry, and other negative things into your life. It’s stretching the string too tight and then watching it break. Throughout life, we’ll be exposed to situations that can bring both eustress and distress; instead of trying to get rid of all stress, we need to learn what stress is good and what stress is bad, and how to deal with each kind.
Talk about the following questions, discussing how different answers can cause eustress or distress (the first one gives you an example):
Who am I? (If I see myself as a child of God and my actions are a result of that, then that’s eustress. If I see myself only as an athlete, intellectual, musician, artist, member of the popular crowd, etc. and all of my actions revolve around that, then that may become distress).
Who am I trying to please? Why am I trying to please that person?
What am I trying to accomplish? Is it worth the stress I’m experiencing?
What matters most to me? Could wrong priorities be causing my stress?
What are my limits? Could someone do this better than I can?
Who is my source? Where should I look for relief from this stress?
When should I rest? Am I taking care of my physical body?
Who do I serve? Do I believe God is ultimately in control?
Ultimately, the stress we experience will be eustress instead of distress only when we’re living our lives to please God.
Pray together, ask God to help you know what He wants you to do and then have the strength to do it. Thank Him for helping you deal productively with the stress in your life.