Jump Start # 2560
Job 19:14 “My relatives have failed, And my intimate friends have forgotten me.”
One of the things the current coronavirus has created is much more home time with the family. Many are spending all day long in the house. The first few days is an adventure. Puzzles. Special lunches. Cleaning up the house together. But as days drag on, and days turn into weeks, this adventure can quickly become a nightmare. Stress levels are pushed. Kids fighting. Kids bored. Mom and dad trying to find some quiet time to work. Suddenly, your house seems too small. Everyone seems to be on top of each other. And, before long, you feel like you need to get away and have a break from your family.
Our verse today, spoken by Job, reflects the emptiness of the pain that he was carrying. His family failed. His friends had forsaken him. He felt alone. No one to sympathize with him. No one to encourage him. No one to support him. No one to be there for him. And, what makes this so tragic is the fact the very people that one would expect to step up, family and friends, were not there. Even, more tragic is that this verse is repeated over and over, even today. There are those who feel cut off from their family. No one to talk to. No one to count upon. No one to be there for them. Some have spoken to family members in years.
Now, let’s give this some thoughts:
First, the dynamics of family are complex. Drama, dysfunction, complicated relationship issues make the jelling together of a family difficult and in some cases, nearly impossible. This is especially true when one marries into a family. They do things differently than your family. I’ve heard from many grandparents who cry that they rarely get to see their grandchildren because a son-in-law or a daughter-in-law doesn’t want to come around. They don’t like their spouses family. Judgmental spirits, jealousy and an unwillingness to forgive makes getting together difficult. Things were said that shouldn’t have been. Things were taken out of context that shouldn’t have been. And, now, there is a wedge within the family. And, now, some don’t want to spend time with each other.
Second, this is complicated more when some or all that are involved are not Christians. The right thing to do is often not what is chosen when one isn’t with the Lord. The leaving of father and mother, that the Lord puts before the first marriage, is not about location as it is maturity, responsibility and establishing a new home. But the leaving doesn’t mean to cut all ties. There are obligations to our parents that we must fulfill and that God is counting upon us to do. When two become one, it no longer is “his” family or “her” family, but our family. We are in this together.
Among the people of God, we must step up and do what is right. Your in-laws may not be your favorite people, I suppose that is why there are so many mother-in-law jokes. The principles of Christ, to love our enemies, put others first, be a servant, demands that we do what we ought to do. One of the cold facts of life is that we do not pick our family. We don’t get to pick our parents. We don’t get to pick our brothers and sisters. Some have a very close and amazing family. Others, can’t stand each other.
Third, remember the golden rule in all of this. Treat your family, including your in-laws, as you would want to be treated. How would you want your kids to treat you when you are old? Give people a chance. In fact, give them a second chance. Isn’t that what the Lord has done for us?
So, how do we keep from failing in our families? How do we get along with people that we do not like? How do we keep from having others crush our spirit and walk over us?
First, you can not change others, but you can keep what they are doing from changing you. Establish borders. You do not have to answer every question that you feel is too nosey. You don’t have to go down roads that you are uncomfortable with. However, you can be kind, gentle and engaged in good deeds. That’s what God expects of us. Let your light shine, even among your family, and, especially among your family. Putting a person in the awkward position of having to chose between spouse or parents isn’t healthy and the outcome likely will not end well. Our first obligation is to our spouse. However, it’s not to the exclusion of our parents.
Second, kindness usually finds a way to bring a smile, open a door, and generate a pleasant conversation. Work on this. Pray about this. Don’t pressure your kids to like one set of grandparents more than another. That’s not kind, nice or healthy. Are there people in my life that I do not particularly like? Sure. We all have some. What do you do? Avoiding them at all cost is not the right answer. Be pleasant. Be thoughtful. Listen. Try to find good. Try to leave them with a good impression.
Third, remember what the Lord would do. That’s the key. That’s what we must be doing. Job felt that his family failed. We don’t know much about Job’s family. All his children died. His wife gave up. Was there others? Possibly? Where were they? He felt they let him down. Maybe, they did. Maybe, Job was in such a foul mood that they couldn’t do anything right. It’s easy to point fingers and blame. It’s easy to find the faults of others.
Remember, you may be the only connection your family has to the Lord. Through you, they see Jesus. Through you, they make decisions about church, God and faith. It’s important that we shine the best that we can. It’s important that we do our best to be our best. Not, for us, but for the Lord.
Job’s family failed. How sad. How are we doing in that area?