Our Families: Pain and Pleasure

By Not Known

Many find that people bring us our greatest pain and pleasure. Both pain and pleasure increase as the distance between people diminishes in our families.

Why is this so? The answer is simple. God made us for relationships (Gen 2:18). This is no surprise, since the ‘us’ of the triune God is essentially relational (Gen 1:26). It is his gift to place the lonely in families (Ps 68:5-6a) and most us find it true that there is strength in numbers when it comes to family (Eccles 4:9-12).

The Bible holds out a high ideal for family life with its picture of devoted and lifelong monogamous marriage complemented by wise and godly parenting to which children respond with respect and faith (Gen 1:18-25; Ex 20:12-14; Matt 19:1-9; 1 Cor 7: 1-16; Eph 5:21-6:4). Phew!

Is your family like this? Mine isn’t and I have yet to meet a family that is. It was a wise person who said: Every family has its shame and every family is hiding something.

Consider these families:

  • A husband and father took extra women to his bed and then committed murder to cover up yet another acquisition.
  • One son of the same man raped one of his sisters and another son publicly slept with one of his father’s ‘other’ women.
  • A respected leader of the eighteenth century revival didn’t attend his own wife’s funeral.
  • Another leader’s wife left him and he said: I did not ask her to go and I will not ask her to return.

The first two stories are especially interesting because they concern King David from whom Jesus was descended and who is the model king of which Jesus is the fulfilment. Even David’s origins are a little murky in his maternal great-grandmother’s behaviour with the man who was later her husband.

What’s the point? The point is not to lower our aspirations for our family away from God’s ideal. Nor is it to condone sin. But the point is to encourage us.

What’s the encouragement? God was and is present in our complex, messy and less-than-ideal families. Our family is the place where grace is mediated. There is hope as his good purposes are worked out there.

Let us always strive to lift family life closer to the ideal. But let us not despair when they are places of pain. God is still there.