This is a tool for you to use if you lead a Sabbath School (SS) class or small group. It is keyed to the Bible texts used in the current week’s Adult SS Lesson and includes a brief story from current news you can use to introduce the discussion and then a series of discussion questions in a relational pattern designed to build fellowship and spiritual reflection.
Texts: Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Genesis 37:17-28; Luke 16:13; Romans 6:16; 1 Corinthians 15:26
Most people have heard the dentist quip, “You don’t need to brush (or floss) all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.” Researchers at the University of Michigan this week have revealed that tooth loss in older adults can also be traced to childhood trauma.
There’s no doubt that poor health conditions (especially caused by diabetes and smoking) impact oral health, but a new study assessed the impact of adverse childhood events on future tooth loss. Haena Lee, a postdoctoral researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research, says, “It’s not just these medical conditions that explain your oral function. … Nearly 20 percent of Americans over age 50 are estimated to live with no teeth…” 
A large number of those who have lost all (or most) of their permanent teeth experienced major losses as children—loss of living in a financially secure home, loss of parents through divorce, loss of safety from physical abuse, etc. She concludes, “Abused children may be more likely to engage in health behaviors such as binge drinking or excessive consumption of sugar or nicotine use, which can contribute to tooth loss.”
This week’s Sabbath school lesson addresses “Times of Loss.” We are reminded of several losses experienced by Adam and Eve after disobeying God. Since then, the human family has collectively suffered major losses—the loss of health, the loss of trust, the loss of freedom, and the loss of life. Not one person is immune to various losses in this world.
Many losses people experience are hidden from others. A wife may be suffering under a physically abusive husband, but her fear of retaliation from him keeps her from speaking up. She might fear that he will harm their children, threaten her life, or she might fear that people at church will not believe her if she says something.
Losses cause pain, and our fellow believers may suffer quietly while appearing to be functioning normally. The loss of a loved one can leave a person emotionally suffering for years. The loss of innocence from sexual assault can leave scars for decades. The loss of trust growing up in a dysfunctional home can make it hard for people to trust others.
Reflecting on our own losses and bringing them to Christ can help us be sensitive and helpful to others who experience loss. When we open our hearts to Jesus and receive divine love, we become thoughtful toward those around us who have suffered major losses in life. When we extend compassion to such wounded people, we not only bring joy into their lives, but we have the opportunity to brighten their smile.
Connecting: Draw a horizontal line and a vertical line on a piece of paper, making four quadrants. In each box draw a simple picture of symbol that represents a loss you’ve experienced in life.
Sharing: Someone at church has suffered the loss of their marriage from divorce and is obviously in deep pain. Their partner was unfaithful and has moved away. How would Jesus relate to this hurting someone?
- Ask if there is anything they need help with at home.
- Sit and listen to them share if they feel the need to talk.
- Recommend they see an excellent Christian counselor.
- Suggest they reflect on how they may have contributed to the marriage breakdown.
- Withhold judgment and just be a friend.
Applying: Make a list of some of the major losses people in your church have experienced this last year. What are three things your group could do to support these hurting people for a few of these losses?
Valuing: In groups of two, share one loss you’ve experienced in life, a loss in which you feel the need of deeper healing. Pray together for Christ to touch your heart and your prayer partner’s heart with divine restoration.