If you have ever taught children’s Sunday School or listened to many children’s sermons you know that high on the list of things kids are thankful for is their parents. One of the first questions we tend to ask upon meeting a new person is about her/his family. In the Bible we see, from the beginning, the importance of the family in God’s order of things. Throughout Scripture, however, are families with their share of bad decisions, jealousy and regrets. In our summer Sunday School class we have been studying the life of Joseph. Joseph and his brothers all had the same father but there were several different mothers. Although his brothers sold him into slavery, his love for them remained deep. After his brothers came to Egypt and Joseph recognized them he “could no longer control himself before all of his attendants, and he cried out, ‘Have everyone leave my presence!’ So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.” (Genesis 45: 1-2) Joseph “threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.” (Genesis 45:14-15)
The apostle Paul expresses a similar sentiment about those within his family of faith. “But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17)
Recently two situations have caused me to think about what crucial roles families play in many lives. One was a high school graduation. Most students rely on some help from parents or parental figures to get through school. The process of a college or job search would be daunting for most teenagers if it were not for help by family members. The other was a visit last Sunday with two grown daughters who are now helping an aging parent through some health issues. He sacrificed many years for his children and wife and now his daughters are sacrificing for him. The loyalty and love shown in many families should encourage us.
As Christians we should be aware of those who could use more support than what might be available currently in their families. There are children in our community who need help with their studies or activities whose parents or grandparents are unable to give it. There are teens who need assistance finding a job, figuring out transportation or applying for college. Some kids simply could use an adult who will listen. In our neighborhoods there are elderly people who would enjoy visits or home-cooked meals. Not all family is biological. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother or sister.” (Proverbs 18:24)