Lent Day 28 Reflection
Today’s reflection comes from Elizabeth Oates—a wife, mother, author, speaker, and for Harris Creek, a mentor for young, newlywed couples. For more samples of Elizabeth’s writing, please check out her blog.
Desmond Tutu once said, “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” Yet for many people, family does not feel like a gift at all. Sometimes family feels more like a burden or an obligation.
While I love my family, I can’t escape the reality that I stem from multiple generations of brokenness. Growing up, my life was one of instability and hardship, chaos and concern. My parents married and divorced multiple times each and I saw lives deteriorate from addiction, abuse, abandonment and general dysfunction. When I looked around, I often felt alone in my afflictions. Yet I now realize that brokenness is within all of us and broken relationships are a part of all our lives.
We certainly see this sentiment in the Bible.
Remember Joseph? The favored son of his father Jacob? One day his father clothes him in a luxurious robe of honor, the next day his older brothers toss him to the bottom of a dark, dank well. I think about how Joseph might have felt, huddled at the bottom of that well. Damp. Cold. Alone. Clutching his knees to his chest, staring up at his brothers while they stood at the top jeering. The bond of brotherhood broken.
And what about Ishmael? A young boy whose only crime was being born to a servant girl and a man who was not her husband. Tossed out by his father’s jealous wife and now forced to live as a boy without his father’s influence. Who will teach Ishmael how to be a man? A husband? A father? The father/son relationship severed.
Don’t forget Peter. We stand in the shadows of Scripture and watch Peter deny Jesus three times. I shake my head at his aloof response . . . until I remember my own sometimes distant heart. I recognize that I, like Peter, am a Christ-follower who too often hears the cock crow before realizing my own temporary insanity. The teacher/student friendship compromised.
But why? Why do we break fellowship with others so easily? Why do we cling so tightly to our favorite college sweatshirt but cast aside relationships so casually? I have a few theories.
- We have our sin nature with which to contend.
- Other things, such as pride and selfishness, creep in and create space between us and those we love.
- Finally, if we lack humility, or refuse to submit to authority, our relationships quickly erode.
So with all of this junk taking up space within our soul, how can we mend our broken relationships?
Ultimately, we should view our brokenness as an opportunity for sanctification—or refinement. Broken relationships are God’s way of saying, “Wake up! Your brother is standing on that side of the room. You are standing on the other side of the room. And I am standing right here in the middle. Both of you just need to come to me!”
How many relationships would be restored if we would just come to Jesus? If we would forget about who is right and who is wrong and we would all just come to Jesus?
Yet coming to Jesus, and restoring broken relationships, requires more than just putting one foot in front of the other. It requires great strength. It requires great humility. It requires sacrifice and courage—more courage than any one of us can muster up from within ourselves.
Surrendering to Jesus and all that he asks us to do, even mending broken relationships, forces us to admit our weaknesses. By doing so we will receive the true source of strength we need for restoration. As Paul says, “When I am weak then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10b, NIV)
Lord, my prayer this Lent season is that you would examine our lives and our hearts. If there is anyone with whom we are estranged, any relationship that is broken, any family member or friend with whom you are calling us to reconnect, I pray for a spirit of conviction. I pray you will give us the strength to surrender to your voice, to obey your call, and the courage to do the hard work it will take to repair a broken relationship. But most of all Lord, I pray you will give us the faith we need to believe that in the end it will be worth the emotional risk. For we know, deep within our souls, that you are not a God of division but a God of restoration. Amen.