The family is a very important institution that was created by God in the Garden of Eden at the very beginning of creation. In Genesis 1:26 the Bible records that on the sixth day God created Adam and Eve, gave them dominion over the entire earth, and provided everything they needed to be sustained as a family. He also gave them instructions to be fruitful and multiply in order to become a loving, wholesome, and complete family (Genesis 1:28). In essence, God created in the family a human circle of love that, at its best, models caring, sharing, nurturing, and perpetual selflessness—a human expression of the relational nature of God—made possible through a loving relationship with Him.
We are all original members of one family—the family of God—created in Eden, in the image of the Creator, with immaculate perfection. Yet many of today’s families are far from God’s ideal, reflecting dysfunction that includes conflict, abuse, and misconduct on a daily basis. The family should be the one place where its members can open their hearts without fear and share both the joys and sorrows of life’s journey. But, unfortunately, too many families have been torn apart and ravished by Satan from many angles. It all began with the fall of Adam and Eve in which acts of hatred, jealousy, and envy resulted in the death of one of the first family’s offspring, when Cain killed his brother, Abel. Since that time the family has repeatedly represented a cycle of broken relationships with God and fellow humans. Media accounts have no shortage of stories of this nature.
Parenting challenges have also had ill effects on the family, with many vexations stemming from absentee fathers. The absence of the father in the home is difficult and taxing upon the family structure. Mothers or guardians are left to carry the load of being both mother and father. Children sometimes try to fill the emptiness in their hearts and lives by turning to gangs, television personalities, and other unhealthy role models. Even though children are resilient and can go on to be successful in life and become loving parents, parenting was intended by God to be a joint effort by both parents.
The family is under attack like never before, resulting in permanent scars, bumps, and bruises, that, if not corrected, can have irreversible effects. But, fortunately, there is hope for all families! Jesus’ mission on earth was designed to bring restoration to every broken relationship. In addition to modeling agape-love relationships (those reflecting love that is of and from God), He gave love commands that are recorded in many places in Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30).
Still today His restoration and renewal are available for all families. Yes, there is hope for every family and each of its members!
Because of God’s great love and power, no family is hopeless, and no family is alone in its struggles. On any given day it is important to remember that the best family is also vulnerable to failure, since the enemy of God has targeted families from the beginning of time.
Some practical ways to help preserve the family and simultaneously offer healing, renewal, and restoration include:
- Daily prayer and worship (family and personal)
- Family counseling to improve communication and other family dynamics
- Individual counseling for members who may be addicted or have other behaviors that negatively impact the family.
- Using words thoughtfully and with discretion
- Intentionally exercising patience
- Performing simple acts of kindness
- Perpetually expressing unconditional love
It is God’s desire that the family thrives lovingly and faithfully in His strength each and every day. What a great day it will be when the family, God’s circle of love, shall unite together in perfect wholeness! “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Revelation 7:9). I am excited about the great family reunion that God has planned for His family! I look forward to seeing you there in His big circle of love!
by Janice Johnson Browne, Ph.D.