First in the Flawed Families 101 Series
Let me tell you a story.
It was a dark and stormy night…no, not really. It was a typical day in the neighborhood where Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel lived after being thrust out of God’s Garden.
Birds sang in the trees. Eve washed clothes in the stream out back, while Adam patched a hole in the roof of their dwelling, caused when their two rambunctious sons played a game of let’s see who can toss the boulder the highest.
There were never two boys less alike than Cain and Abel. Wait–there’d never been two boys yet—but still, they were as different as night and day.
I imagine Abel was a dreamer and a parent pleaser. He loved his animals, and it pained him when he had to sacrifice one to the Lord God. I can see Abel the night before the ritual sacrifice, hunkered down in his field, petting the unblemished animal he’d chosen. He was sorrowful, but he’d never thought of not offering an animal sacrifice—that would disappoint the Lord God and his parents. He couldn’t bring himself to be guilty of that.
Big brother Cain, in this imaginative retelling, held his chin high and tried to keep his rebellious thoughts to himself. Unlike Abel, he preferred his crops to animals. He must have been an accomplished farmer, because his pride caused him to offer the best of his crops as a sacrifice, instead of an animal. The Scriptures imply that Adam and his family received the command for animal sacrifice from the Lord God Himself.
But Cain clearly didn’t care. He brought his offering of vegetables and grain that night, and Abel brought his prize animal. God accepted Abel’s gift, refused Cain’s, and things slithered downhill from there.
Cain’s pride took over and he became jealous of Abel. It was obvious Cain desired acceptance from the Lord God, but he was unwilling to gain that acceptance God’s way. He demanded his way or the highway. Not a very smart posture to adopt before the Creator of the universe.
Now let’s take a look at the parents of these two young men.
Imagine for a moment what must have gone through Adam and Eve’s minds as they watched this drama play out. Their hearts were broken over Cain’s rebellion. They may have taken him aside and reminded him of the consequences of their own defiance against God’s one command, given to them in the Garden.
Can you see them earnestly pleading with their first-born to obey God or suffer judgment? But their parental pleas went unheeded.
Then, the worst nightmare any parent could suffer happened to Adam and Eve. Cain’s rage took over and he snapped. Their eldest son murdered his brother.
The Bible doesn’t tell us the details of how Adam and Eve reacted, but we don’t need it spelled out, do we? They were parents, just like all parents. Heartrending is a good word.
Pride is often at the root of difficult family relationships.
We refuse to listen to each other, and think our harsh disagreements somehow spell the end of that relationship. My difficult family relationships are nowhere near the brokenness of the first family’s, nor are yours I’d guess, but at times it can feel like the end of the world.
But God is faithful. Often, it’s when we rub each other the wrong way that we recognize our own rough edges. Have you found that to be true?
God created the family unit, and our relationships are precious to Him. Praying for each other is paramount. When our hearts are breaking and we are out of words, let’s remember God’s promise to “pray for us with words that can’t be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
Scripture praying is another gift our Father has given us. I would challenge you to find your favorite Scripture verse and use it to pray for your difficult family relationships. Using His Words to pray for our relationships ushers us into His presence, where we can experience peace and calm in the midst of the worst emotional storms.
This is the first installment in the blog series, Flawed Families 101. I hope you stay with me over the next few months as we explore God’s plan for families, and how we can enter into that plan as we maneuver through our own family connections.
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See you next time!