Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
One theme that continues to show up in stand up comedy and comedy TV is the subject of family tension. Most people identify with tense or painful family relationships because they are ubiquitous. Why is that? Cultivating healthy relationships is difficult in general, but relationships within our families can often feel more complicated. There is an insight in the passage above that may help us understand a kingdom perspective when it comes to family.
Paul tells us that hope is the end result of suffering, endurance, and character. Often hope lives on the far side of the challenges of life. Family relationships are unique in that they carry with them more profound commitment. Families have the bonds of covenant and/or blood that generally force us to interact with difficulties beyond our natural tolerance. Think about it, in many relationships, when things become challenging, it is much easier to distance ourselves from those who cause tension. Within a family, our blood or covenant bonds force us to deal with our differences beyond our comfort. It is in the soil of that tension that character and hope grow.
Before I continue, I must say there are circumstances where boundaries must be established, even within families. With that said, we often sell ourselves short of God’s beautiful design in relationships if we run from the inevitable challenge embedded in relationships. The bonds of marriage and blood are designed by God to keep us together long enough to reap the harvest of deeper satisfaction. If we are unwilling to face the tension, we are also unwilling to enjoy the comfort of a relationship that stands the tests of life. The role of a family is not the ease and happiness of all the members, it is the character and lasting joy of all.
Do you have tension in any family relationship? Take a moment to thank God for the training ground that is in that challenge. Ask God to help you see opportunities to grow in and through the pain of your family relationships. Pray for healing in your relationships and ask God to heal the wounds that they have caused in you and in others. This kind of perspective can transform us into being better people for our families and our world.
By Aaron Bjorklund