Family Gatherings


Have you ever been wounded by members of your own family? Jesus understands—He was wounded by members of His family, too.

“...Angels came and attended Him.”  (Matthew 4:11)

The pace of Southern family life slows down in the summertime, making room for lazy days in the sun at the beach, or skipping rocks in a mountain creek, or catching fireflies in the twilight hours, or churning homemade ice cream on the back porch, or reading a good book during a thunderstorm, or chatting with friends on a balmy evening in a restaurant’s outside seating. Often it’s a time to get together with extended family over a backyard barbecue as cousins play games, siblings reconnect, aunts and uncles describe their vacation plans, and grandparents smile at everyone, thankful that their hearing is impaired.

But those extended family times can also carry undercurrents, can’t they? Because families can have a dark side. Every family includes those who have been wounded. Even Christian families. Even church families. Sadly, the most painful wounds are often those inflicted by another family member.

Have you experienced those kinds of wounds? Have you been wounded by one or more people within your own family? Do you know of another person in your extended family who has been wounded? Families are not always a safe place to be.

Jesus understands, because His family wasn’t safe when “He came to that which was His own…His own did not receive Him.” Yet Jesus loved His own. He welcomed their intrusion into His daily life, ministered to them as He taught and healed them, seeing them as sheep that needed a Shepherd.

Even today, His family doesn’t always act like His family should. It includes the wounded…and the wounders. And so does my own family. I expect yours does, too, which can make them hard to love.

One thing I have learned is that our families do not have to be perfect in order for us to love them or in order for them to be a blessing. The sin and the shortcomings, the hurts and the heartaches, the failures and the fragments, the brokenness and the weakness, the mistakes and the memories, the rebellion and the wrong-doing, can be redeemed by our loving and gracious Heavenly Father.

So as you reflect on your summer family gatherings, or as you anticipate some still to come, don’t focus on the dark side. Focus on the One who has the power to transform and redeem. Then ask Him to help you be a ministering angel to the weak and wounded within your own family…for His sake.

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