Family life - Hope 103.2

Family life

By David ReayTuesday 3 Dec 2013LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Genesis 27:41-46

41 From that time on,Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother,Jacob.”

42 But Rebekah heard about Esau’s plans. So she sent for Jacob and told him,”Listen,Esau is consoling himself by plotting to kill you. 43 So listen carefully,my son. Get ready and flee to my brother,Laban,in Haran. 44 Stay there with him until your brother cools off. 45 When he calms down and forgets what you have done to him,I will send for you to come back. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac,”I’m sick and tired of these local Hittite women! I would rather die than see Jacob marry one of them.” (NLT)

This is just one bite-sized piece of the rather mixed-up family of Isaac. It is a saga of unwise favouritism,deceit,complaint,fear,hatred. Isaac did not die a happy man. His family was a hotbed of intrigue and hostility. And Isaac was one of the ‘good guys’ in the biblical narrative.

It is a reminder to us of the ambiguous nature of family life. We hear occasional talk about ‘family values’,but it is a safe guess to conclude Isaac’s family are not the best examples of those values-whatever they may be. (Though Isaac and Rebekah are specifically mentioned in the old,traditional marriage service as models of faithfulness).

Again a reminder that this side of heaven no one is perfect,no families are utterly virtuous. Children can go off the rails and act irresponsibly towards parents. Parents can tyrannise their children with pressured expectations. Some despair at their singleness while others despair at the disintegration of a marriage. Some struggle with challenging children,other struggle with aged parents.

This doesn’t cause us to reject families or despair at them. It simply reminds us that family is the crucible in which our faith is tested,the sphere in which we explore the contours of love and respect. Family is where we often don’t get it right. Our families are reminders to us that where there is the possibility of joy there is the possibility of grief,where there is the hope of intimacy there is the possibility of pain.

Families magnify our strengths and weaknesses. Which is why it can be hard going and satisfying all at the one time.

David Reay

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