ANSWER/SEARCH for TEACHERS: Unit 16 - Growing God's Way

Answer-Search Teacher Guide 204

ANSWER TITLE: God’s Solution

SEARCH TITLE: Personal Problems

TEXT: Genesis 37:3-36; Psalm 105:16-22; 1 Peter 4:12-19

supplemental scriptures


The students should be able to explain that a Christian will face tests and difficulties, but there is deliverance for those who remain true to God. No matter what the problem, God can provide the grace and the answer to every situation.

key verse for answer

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. — Psalm 34:19

key verse for search
reference information

Joseph had problems that seemed quite strange, dreams he couldn’t understand, and hateful, jealous brothers. Joseph was taken away from his family, sold, and made a slave; but God never left him. God’s way up is often down—humiliation before exaltation. Joseph had many problems but in time he saw God use those very problems as His means of blessing.

Christians are reminded that it is better to suffer for “well doing, than for evil doing” (1 Peter 3:17). They are to cease from sin and follow their great example—Christ. Suffering is to be taken for granted, and Christians are to rejoice because they are “partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13).


Receiving salvation is not a guarantee that the Christian will face no difficulties. In fact, the Apostle Paul exhorted early Christians to continue in the faith, cautioning them that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). But for those who remain true to God there is a deliverance and an answer to every troublesome problem. In this lesson we see how the hand of the Lord was over Joseph and moved in his behalf though he faced hard trials and personal difficulties. His story has been an example to Christians through the ages. 

  1. After reading the Genesis portion of our text, list the problems that were facing Joseph at this time in his life.

    Response: Your students’ responses may include the thought that Joseph was the favorite of his father. He had two dreams which he related to his family, causing his brothers to envy him. Their jealousy led to hatred, and a desire to kill Joseph. Although his life was spared, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and then taken to Egypt. Who of us have problems to match these?
  2. The problems faced by Joseph seemed to revolve, for the most part, around his relationships with other people—just as the problems facing us often do. The Scriptures give us many guidelines which direct our responses and reactions to others. Look up the following verses and note the attitudes we should maintain toward others to alleviate or minimize differences.
    Romans 12:10
    Romans 12:14
    Galatians 5:14
    Galatians 6:1
    Colossians 3:13

    Response: Romans 12:10 — preferring our brother over ourselves
    Romans 12:14 — non-retaliation
    Galatians 5:14 — show love
    Galatians 6:1 — meekness
    Colossians 3:13 — patience, forgiveness
    As your class discusses each of these attitudes, ask them to explain why and how these affect our dealings with other people.
  3. What was Joseph’s response when his father asked him to journey to Shechem to inquire after his brothers’ welfare? In view of the fact that his brothers hated and envied him, what was notable about Joseph’s answer and what lesson can we learn from it?

    Response: His response was, “Here am I.” It was notable in that Joseph obeyed without questioning or demurring. As your students discuss this, they should realize that it may have been a difficult thing for Joseph to do, but he did do it! Sometimes human inclinations may not be in accordance with the scriptural way to handle a problem, but to have God’s approval we must conform to the instructions given us in His Word.
  4. In Genesis 37:15, we find Joseph facing a completely different type of problem. Identify his difficulty, and explain how a solution was provided.

    Response: Joseph was lost, “wandering in the field.” Help came through a man who found him there. The man knew of the brothers’ whereabouts and directed Joseph to Dothan. The point of this question is to establish that God is not limited in the types of problems He can solve, or in the methods He chooses to use. Ask your students to cite examples—either Biblical or from their own knowledge or experience—of when God used unusual ways to provide a solution to a problem. Some Biblical examples might be: Gideon’s band with their pitchers, lamps, and trumpets; the increasing of the widow’s oil; the earthquake which brought Paul and Silas’s release from prison.
  5. Verses 19 and 20 reflect the contempt Joseph’s brothers felt for him. As Christians today, we must sometimes face contempt for ourselves and for our beliefs. How are we to react to this and what will occur if we follow the admonition given in Scripture? See Matthew 5:11-12 and 1 Peter 2:19-20.

    Response: We are to rejoice and to bear it patiently. If we do so we are promised a great reward in Heaven. Help your students see that God is not unmindful of what we are going through. He, too, suffered false accusation and persecution, yet left us a beautiful example of how to respond to unjust treatment.
  6. God, in His infinite wisdom, may allow trials to come for various reasons. Looking at Psalm 105:16-17, for what reason did Joseph have to go to Egypt?

    Response: Joseph was sent by God to be an instrument in saving the Children of Israel. Stress that God delivered Joseph from being killed by his brothers. By getting him safely down to Egypt, he was later in a position to provide for his family when the seven-year famine came. Ask your students at what point in this long chain of events do they feel that Joseph could recognize God’s plan. The resulting discussion should bring out that many times we will not see God’s plan revealed immediately. We may need to carry on, simply trusting Him to eventually work some good from the situation, even though we cannot see at the moment what that good might be.
  7. Hebrews 12:11 brings out another reason we may need to go through some times of trial and testing. Identify the reason and explain what benefit it will bring.

    Response: Trials sometimes come as a form of chastening, but the verse tells us that this will yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” Discuss with your class the meaning of this phrase.
  8. In 1 Peter 4:19 there is a qualifying phrase which defines to whom this instruction is given. What is the phrase and why is it important?

    Response: The qualifying phrase is, “according to the will of God.” Discussion of this phrase should focus on the necessity of being sure we are in the will of God when we face a trial. Using 1 John 3:20-21, conclude your class session with the thought that the first step in overcoming our problems is making sure our position is in accordance with God’s Word and that we are following His leading. Without that assurance, we have no promise that the trial will result in our gain in any way.
class activities

Make a list of hypothetical situations the students might face that will test their Christian walk. Write these on pieces of paper and pass them out to the students. Have the students read them aloud, one by one. Encourage them to suggest ways these problems could be handled in a Christian manner.

Show your class some magazine or newspaper articles revealing behaviors that show people’s personal problems. Discuss how the Lord could help in these personal problems if given a chance. Even Christians have problems but the Lord is there to deliver them no matter what the problem is.

Bring to class a “quick cure” or “get rich quick” advertisement. After showing the advertisement to your class, explain that some people expect the Gospel to be a “quick cure” for all their problems or a way to obtain temporal success. What does your class think about these views of the Gospel?

Divide your class into three groups (or any appropriate number). Have each group list some of the problems that arise in people’s lives:
GROUP ONE: What are some of the minor problems that arise in one’s life?
GROUP TWO: What are some of the major problems that might arise in a person’s life?
GROUP THREE: List several catastrophes that might occur in a person’s life.
After the students have had several minutes to write down their thoughts, have each group share their list with the class. Ask your students which of the listed problems definitely will not occur in a Christian’s life.