Don’t Let Family Problems Lie

Learning to live with others 5Holidays often mean one of two things: gathering together with family, which can lead to situations which result in hurt feelings, or avoiding family because of previous situations where feelings were hurt. Most of us have at least one family member who chooses not to associate with the rest of the family. This always causes awkwardness and discomfort, especially if you’re the one that’s the bridge between the two parties. As followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot sit idly by when we know there’s an issue. Getting angry but not trying to resolve the issue in a healthy way can lead to bigger issues. Case in point:

  Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.” And the king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Mark when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. Do not fear; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled.  – 2 Samuel 13:26-29, ESV

Amnon had raped his half-sister, Tamar. She was Absalom’s full sister. The whole situation came about because Amnon tricked his father, David, into sending Tamar to take care of a supposedly sick Amnon. What Amnon did was horrible. Further inflaming the problem was the fact that the only person who could be expected to do something about Amnon’s act was the king. That would be David. And though David became angry (2 Samuel 13:21), we have no indication that he did anything about it. We know that after Amnon had committed his evil deed and Tamar tried to make things right by getting Amnon to marry her. We also know Amnon refused and after the sinful and horrendous act he hated her. His love had turned. And so Tamar went into seclusion. We have no verses that indicate David did anything.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Absalom eventually acted. We are told in verse 23 that Absalom waited a full two years. So what it looks like is Amnon performed his despicable act, Tamar isolated herself into her brother’s (Absalom’s) household, David got angry but did nothing, and the situation was left unresolved. Needless to say, that permitted Absalom’s anger to fester. Two years later, he acted. He had to act with consent granted from his father, David, but act he did. Of course, David should have been more wise to what Absalom was planning, especially given his own inaction. He wasn’t. Absalom pulled off the assassination of his brother Amnon and started one of the greatest family rifts in Biblical history. All because David refused to deal with the situation.

Don’t let unresolved family problems lie if you’ve never tried to deal with them before. Try your level best to deal with the issue and to approach each one in a godly manner. We should seek restoration if relationships, especially during the holiday season when we tend to miss them the most. Even if you’re the one that was hurt, attempt to take the initiative in reconciliation. As Absalom’s action shows, the old cliche, “Time heals all wounds,” is not true. Don’t expect things to get better unless folks are actively trying to resolve their problems.

But what if you have tried? What if you have approached said person and they’ve rebuffed you? Continuing the same approach is likely foolish. The one thing you can do is to take your desire to God. Lay the situation at His feet. In His timing and with His wisdom, He will act. Yes, that potentially means you won’t see reconciliation in your life time. However, you and I can’t change the other person. We can simply present the opportunity for change. That other person has to embrace it. If they don’t embrace the chance, if they don’t choose to change, there’s nothing we can do about it, as sad as that sounds. We like to be able to fix problems. Sometimes we can’t, especially when family is concerned. We have to come to live with it. Usually that requires further assistance from the Holy Spirit. We can only do what is in our power. We must trust God with the rest. However, let us not use that as an excuse to reach out when we can make a difference.

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