This is the first article in our new series on the family. In this series, our counselors examine various difficulties of family life and share ways to pursue healthier family dynamics.
Every family has problems, and the families in the Bible are no exception. The Bible paints family life in vivid colors, pictures of families just like ours.
In the families of the Bible, feuds, disloyalty, dysfunction, and jealousy are contrasted with tenderness, bravery, sacrifice, and compassion. There are real pictures of family hurt (murder, incest, abuse, and bitterness) and pain that spirals to every kind of dysfunction imaginable.
The Bible displays hard work in pursuing a healthy family life and concludes that the work is worthy of our efforts.
One of the most difficult parts of navigating family life is that it feels like our individual families don’t come with a personalized instruction booklet. There isn’t a simple how-to process for achieving peace and happiness in our homes.
It would be nice if the Bible gave us a simple three-step process for making major decisions and resolving conflicts at home, but we all know it’s more complicated than that. Many of us can’t even rely on our own families’ examples either, because we experienced more hurt and confusion growing up than helpful models.
The Bible actually gives us even more powerful insights into family life.
No family will ever be all that we could be, and we all need God’s help to be anything worth pursuing. Here’s how the Bible helps us find true solutions to family problems.
In God’s family, He is our model.
Where do we turn for the model of how family life should operate when we have experienced so much pain from our own? There is no greater model than God as our father.
The powerful truth found in 1 John 3:1a says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
When it comes to family life, God Himself models for us what He calls us to be and serves as an example.
We can gain insights into our roles as parents, children, spouses, and relatives by examining closely the principles and expectations of what it means to be part of God’s family.
No matter how difficult your family of origin may have been, we have a greater model. We have a faithful model that can shape our responses to the family difficulties of life.
Consider James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
Over and over throughout Scripture, we are presented with a picture of God as a faithful father who is consistent in His desire to know us and care for us.
In God’s family, we are challenged to grow from our difficulties.
No parent, child, sibling, or spouse will be able to navigate family life without major mistakes. The difference in healthy families is that they can grow from their mistakes.
God allows the consequences of sin to teach us, and this is part of the loving discipline we experience.
Consider Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Even when our families are going through difficult consequences, we have a Heavenly Father who delights in helping us grow from those difficulties. He is longsuffering and faithful in His love, even when it is a corrective love.
No one likes seasons of difficulty, but God uses difficulty to help us see where we have gotten off course and where our sin is hindering right relationships with Him and others.
How we respond makes all the difference in the world.
In God’s family, we can choose to pursue fresh starts.
How do you respond when your family life feels like you just got hit by a tornado and your house stands in disarray? Some stand in the rubble and conclude that they didn’t like that house anyway while others embrace the opportunity to partner with God and rebuild their family.
Joshua reminded us about the crossroads that we face between having a family that serves God or chooses a life that serves self.
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15
If you have already concluded that it’s too late or your family is too far gone to find healing, remember that God meets us in our brokenness when we reach out in humility.
No doubt some readers will conclude that it’s “too late” and their family hurt will always remain, but we need to remember God’s heart for families.
In this series, we will deal with some of the challenges of family life and offer biblical solutions. With God’s help, we can all make progress in our families.
If you are a frustrated child, an exasperated parent, or a hurt family member, we pray this series will help you respond in a way that God modeled for us.