Anne Graham Lotz examines stories from the Bible to show how God’s love is broad enough, deep enough, high enough and long enough to wrap around and heal the wounded hearts in families.
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?
God understands, because His family doesn’t always act like His family should, either. His extended family includes the wounded … and the wounders. And so the Bible is full of stories about how God’s love is broad enough, deep enough, high enough and long enough to wrap around and heal the wounded heart. Some of the most poignant of these stories are highlighted by names of women that appear in the genealogy that begins Matthew’s Gospel–a list of names that make up the extended family of Jesus Christ. This is His Family Tree.
READ MATTHEW 1:1-16
Give the names of the five women who are mentioned in His Family Tree, with verses.
His Extended Family Includes the Loveless
- Give the main facts of Tamar’s story from Genesis 38:11-30.
- How was Tamar wounded by her family?
- If you have been wounded by the rejection of your family, how do the following verses comfort and encourage you? Give phrases from Psalm 31:12-17, Lamentations 3:19-24, Isaiah 54:6-8, Isaiah 60:15 and John 1:11-12.
His Extended Family Includes the Lost
- Give the main facts of Rahab’s story from Joshua 2:1-24 and 6:12-25.
- What evidence of the lost spiritual condition of Rahab’s family is given in Deuteronomy 20:16-18?
- Using your imagination, how do you think Rahab was not only spiritually lost, but emotionally wounded, even before she met the spies?
- Name those in your family who are spiritually lost. Give phrases from the following verses that encourage you in your prayers for them: John 3:16-17; Ezekiel 34:16; Ephesians 2:1-9; Luke 15:3-7, 8-10; and John 10:14-15.
His Extended Family Includes the Left-Out
- Give the main facts of Ruth’s story from Ruth 1-4.
- How had Ruth and her family been left out of God’s family for generations? Read Deuteronomy 23:3-6.
- How had Ruth herself been wounded? See Ruth 1:3-5.
- Who in your family has been wounded through death, disease or divorce while also being left out by God’s family? Which of the following verses could you share to encourage your family member? Genesis 28:15; Psalm 40:2; 1 Peter 2:4; Ephesians 2:11-13, 1:4-6; and Hebrews 13:12-14.
His Extended Family Includes the Lawbreaker
- Who was Uriah the Hittite? Read 2 Samuel 23:8, 39.
- Who was Uriah’s wife, according to 2 Samuel 11:3?
- Give the main facts of her story in 2 Samuel 11:1-27.
- How did Uriah’s wife break God’s law as expressed in Exodus 20:14?
- List the wounds you can think of that were inflicted as a result of giving in to the pleasure of sin for a few moments.
- If you or someone in your family has been immoral or in some other way has broken God’s law and wounded others, what instructions and promises do the following verses give? Hosea 14:1-2; John 8:1-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 18-20; Psalm 32:1, 4-5; Psalm 103:12; 1 John 1:6-9; and ?2 Corinthians 5:21.
His Extended Family Includes the Lowly
- Give the main facts of Mary’s story from Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-7, 21-24 and 39-40.
- Give phrases from the following verses that imply Mary was young and poor: Luke 1:34, 48, 52; and John 1:46.
- As an unmarried pregnant teenager, how might Mary have been wounded by her own family and by her own community?
- How did God uniquely reveal His love to Mary? See Luke 1:46-55, 2:8-19 and 2:51-52.
- If you and your family are young, poor, or lowly in some other way, how do the following verses encourage you? Micah 6:8, Isaiah 66:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, 1 Peter 2:23-24 and Philippians 2:5-11.
How is God’s power to redeem this dysfunctional, wounded Family Tree evident in Matthew 1:16? If God could transform these people–His extended family–into a testimony of His amazing grace so that ultimately Jesus Christ was revealed, why would you think He can’t do the same for you and your family?