We can understand when Jesus taught and preached that “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
We have come to expect and learn the world will be full of trouble, unpleasant encounters, difficult people to deal with, being reduced to a mere number in someone’s system, injustices, bigotry, hatred; all of that we have come to expect and over time are not as easily wounded by what we encounter in the world. But we are caught off guard and broken when trouble goes beyond the world and enters the home and family. We raise our children as the Bible says yet they are full of rebellion, resentment, anger. We base our marriage on biblical principles and try to lay a good foundation, yet we can experience much pain, unloving or unfaithful partner, abuses, disrespect, separation of paths, goals, and mindsets. Somehow trouble, misunderstanding, financial pressures, in-law issues, sickness, enter in and make life difficult and even miserable.
It was Earnest Hemingway who wrote, “Life breaks us all.” And that is certainly true! We may be surprised at how broken we can become through life: difficult circumstances, painful experiences, deep troubles, struggles on just about every level of life, all can lead us to a breaking point. By life’s end, we all have some stories to tell about how life broke and wearied us. But, as hard as life can be, as much as we can be broken by life, nothing seems more breaking or painful than when we experience the kinds of troubles that break us in our own home and family life.
How do we survive the problems we face in the home; the one place that should be our safe harbor and place to get away from the troubles of the world around us? How do we manage to survive the deepest hurts we experience from those we care the most about? Those who should be the ones to help us survive the hurts or wounds we experience out in the world?
It might be some comfort to know when we experience trouble and difficulty in our family we are not alone. The best of Christian homes has troubles and problems. Literally, since the beginning of time, all the way back to the first family of Adam and Eve difficulties have plagued the family. Once the serpent entered the garden, their beautiful home and sacred space, and introduced sin by tempting Eve trouble has been part of family life.
Adam and Eve were the first couple to experience marital discord (after having a perfect marriage before sin).
They were the first family to experience eviction from their home (being expelled from the Garden of Eden after they sinned)
They were the first family to know the stress of relocating and starting life over.
They were the first family to be shattered by the death of a child due to an act of violence.
They were the first family to know what it was like to raise a rebellious child, full of resentment and anger, then become a murderer of his own brother.
They were the first family to know what it felt like when their child chose a spouse from the world instead of one with like values and faith.
So much brokenness and difficulty Adam and Eve faced in their home and family. Yet they managed to overcome and work through. But how? How did they survive so much hurt and pain? How did they stay encouraged when troubles came and mounted? They did what we must do to this day, they turned to the One who could help them.
The same words Jesus spoke to his followers applies to us today, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The “world” also means home and family. In this life, in our family and home life we will have trouble, difficulty, but we can take heart, be strong, confident and encouraged knowing Jesus has overcome our troubles and difficulties in this way as well.
We can survive the difficulties that arise in our home and family. We might not have our desired outcomes for everything: those rebellious children may become prodigals, that marriage we worked so hard at may not make it and we experience divorce, families may not be able to weather the storms of life as a solid unity and become fractured, all our hard work may not pay off in financial security but we have to deal with constant financial pressures, even struggle through issues of poverty. We discover belonging to God and following Christ does not make us immune to difficulty, not in the world, and not in our home and family.
How did the first family survive the storms at home? How have families down through the ages survived and stayed encouraged through all their trials and difficulties? As bad as things got and as tense as home and family life became, Adam and Eve held onto God’s faithful and unchanging had. That is our key also. We can survive anything, even the hardest of circumstances holding onto the hand of God. we can be encouraged knowing our God has not left us in our trouble. He has not abandoned our family, not even when we are the epitome of dysfunction. He does not love us any less or turn his back on us but stays with us, strides with us, helps us, strengthens us, comforts us when we are broken and hurting.
Promises of God and Scriptures to Reflect When There is Difficulty in the Home and Family
When there is discord and misunderstanding in the home and family.
(James 4:1-2) What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
(Psalm 133:1-3) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, o the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountain of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
When unreasonableness prevails.
(Philippians 4:5) Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
(Isaiah 1:18) Come, now, let us reason together, says the LORD; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
Do not look for revenge, but be a person of peace
(Romans 12:17 -19) Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.”
Life is in Christ, Not in Others
(Colossians 3:1-3) If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Know your identity in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 6:18) And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.
(Genesis 1:26, 27) Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
When others fail and disappoint you, God can meet your deepest needs.
(Philippians 4:19) And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Matthew 6:33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
When our standards are set too high and unrealistic.
(Romans 3:10-12, 23) As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. all have turned aside, together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”…For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
(I John 1:8) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Using forgiveness as a standard for all wrongs
(Mark 11:25) And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
(Ephesians 4:32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Loving as God would have us to love
(I Corinthians 13:4-8) Love is patient and kind; love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Feeling too weak or fragile to endure.
(Philippians 4:13) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Psalm 46:1) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its Waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
When we are reluctant to speak out about wrongdoing that is causing hurt and pain.
(2 Timothy 1:7) For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
When your faith is wavering.
(Mark 11:23) Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Pray About All Concerns.
(Philippians 4:5-7) The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. and the peace of God, which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(Mark 11:24) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.