Hope When Things Don't Go My Way

Week #1 of the Children study series

Hope: Living with Confident Expectation

This week's teacher is Nick Ransom.
Family Connection Guide

Bible Story

Nehemiah 1:1-11

If you have ever faced an overwhelming task or felt inadequate to meet a challenge, you will be able to identify with Nehemiah. He struggled with issues still with us today: motivation, fatigue, criticism. But Nehemiah offers us hope! He shows us how to tackle difficult assignments. Nehemiah knew that Jerusalem and its people needed help and he felt the call from God, when he was praying, to go help. He was not someone who knew how to build walls or even equipped to help, but he had hope that he could help because he knew God was with him!

Memory Verse: Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.”

Early Childhood Activities

Activity 1: Make a Joy Jar

  • Get a pretty jar or vase that you can set out.
  • Using two different colors of paper, cut the paper in strips.
  • Every day, during dinner or at the end of the day write down one thing on each strip of paper that brought you joy or made you feel hopeful that day on one color of paper and on the other color of paper write down the things you did to bring joy or hope to someone else.
  • As you put the papers in the jar, pray for everyone who helped bring you joy and hope and everyone you brought joy or hope to – giving thanks for the people in your life, the places and things that bring you joy and the blessing of being able to help others.

Activity 2: Bible Words

  • Each day have someone come up with a word – it can be any word at all.
  • Go to a Bible search website and search for your word. If you find it, read one or two verses that have the daily word in them. If the word doesn’t come up in your search, talk about how that word fits into your faith. (For example:  if the word is "cookies," it doesn’t show up in the Bible searches – trust me, I looked – so you could talk about how Jesus fed people, or that cookies can be shared with others to show we love them, or that cookies bring us joy.)
  • This is a great way to get your family focused on the idea that everything in our life can somehow be tied to our faith. And it’s just silly enough to get everyone engaged.

Elementary Activities

Activity 1: Impossible Tasks


Have each child attempt the following “impossible tasks.” Let them try as many times as they would like. Make sure they follow the rules clearly. When they are done trying, tell them the trick. 

Part 1: Lift your foot

CHALLENGE: Stand next to a wall with one side of your body touching it. Place your ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and head against the wall. Now try to lift your other foot off the ground without moving away from the wall.  Your ankle, hip, head and shoulder must be touching the wall.  

TRICK: Grab a partner and have them push your other shoulder towards the wall (holding you up) as you lift your foot. It works with a little help from a friend!

Part 2: Stand up

CHALLENGE: Sit in a chair with your feet in front of you, your back touching the back of the chair. Now try to stand up without using your hands and while keeping your back against the chair.

TRICK: Separate your legs so that one foot is on either side of the chair. Keeping your back on the chair, now try standing up!

Part 3: The Paralyzed Finger Trick

CHALLENGE: Bend your middle finger into your palm and put your hand on the table. Then lift your thumb, index finger, and pinkie. No problem, right? Now try the ring finger. 

TRICK: Use your other hand or ask a friend to lift your ring finger off the table!

TALKING POINTS: How did you feel when you were struggling to do the task? Sometimes when things don’t go our way, it’s easy to get frustrated and even give up. That’s when we need to turn to God, take a deep breath, pray, and even ask for help. Even when things don’t go your way or a task seems impossible, you can trust that God is still with you. You can have hope when things don’t go your way.

Activity 2: Cup Race Memory Verse Activity

SUPPLIES: 31 cups (disposable or stacking tumblers), marker or pen, tape, paper

SET UP: If using reusable cups, cut up your paper into strips that are small enough to tape to your cups. Write the memory verse on the separate pieces of paper, one word per piece. Tape one word on each cup. If using disposable cups, use a permanent marker to write one word from the memory verse on each cup. 

  • Memory Verse Elementary – Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Memory Verse Early Childhood -  Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.

ACTIVITY: Mix up the cups and put them all throughout the room. Have each child take turns running around the room to grab the cups and try to stack them in order. You can even time each player and see who can get it done the fastest OR have them work together and try it multiple times to see if they can beat their own time! KEEP THESE CUPS FOR ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT THE SERIES.

TALKING POINTS: At the beginning of this game, the cups were all over the room and it was a big mess! How do you feel when you see a big mess? Sometimes I get overwhelmed and frustrated. How do you deal with the big mess? In our activity, you found a way to put the mess back into order! Next week we will learn how Nehemiah came up with a plan to fix his big mess: the walls!