Is your family broken? Are you or your parents divorced? Are you estranged from a brother or sister? Is an uncle or aunt missing? If any of these things, or something else, is part of your family, it’s important for you to know you are not alone.
One of the things I do as a pastor is talk with lots of people about complex and often, difficult things. I am always amazed at how resilient people can be.
I remember a few years ago, as I began my ministry, how surprised I was to hear stories that seemed almost unbelievable. As a pastor, many people feel comfortable sharing things they wouldn’t otherwise. This goes far beyond members; maybe it’s on an airplane, at a bar, or during a group bike ride.
Here is a list of just a few of the things I’ve seen during my ministry: totally absent parents, a brother who’s been missing for over 30 years, children disappearing for months or longer, teenage parents, drug and alcohol abuse, a spouse who spent all the family’s money without them knowing, and domestic violence. After just a few years in ministry, I am no longer surprised by these stories.
There is one thing that seems to be present in most of them. Hope. This doesn’t mean reconciliation that is often unmanageable rather, the hope for a life that functions within the complex nature of an imperfect world. This hope is often found in step-parents who show unconditional love, in-laws who welcome extended families to holiday and family events, children and grandchildren who give parents hope for a better future, and spouses of deceased family members who bring grandchildren to see their grandparents despite the pain in doing so.
I think the great message of Jesus Christ is, he was part of a broken family. He was adopted by his earthly father, Joseph, and his parents weren’t married when he was conceived.
As a pastor, my job is to tell the story of how Jesus matters to us today. When I hear stories of great disappointment, I can’t help but wonder where God is during the tough times.
When I turn to scripture and prayer, I am reminded that God doesn’t chose to lead by example; instead he chooses to participate through presence.
If you’re going through a difficult time, please remember that you are not alone.