Day 1 of 7

For Families Under Stress


Genesis 1:26-31

26 God said, “Now we will make humans, and they will be like us. We will let them rule the fish, the birds, and all other living creatures.” 27 So God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women. 28 God gave them his blessing and said:
  • Have a lot of children! Fill the earth with people and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and every animal on the earth.
  • 29 I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat.
  • 30 And I have given the green plants as food for everything else that breathes. These will be food for animals, both wild and tame, and for birds. 31 God looked at what he had done. All of it was very good! Evening came and then morning—that was the sixth day.

Male and female are blessed by God for the purpose of having children and taking responsibility for God's creation around them. After the Fall, however, this purpose became distorted. There are many stories in the Bible that demonstrate how families have come under different kinds of stress instead (read the passages listed in TO KNOW MORE for some more examples).

REFLECT

What aspects of your family are good, closer to the original design, and what are bad, evidence of the distortion?

RESPOND

In the above passage, families are called to work together for the good of the world. With at least one family member - spouse, sibling, parent, child, or otherwise - take part in something focused outward. It will probably make you closer to each other, too.

PRAYER

God, we read about your original design for families and we know that we routinely fall short. Please help us reclaim the kind of love you have made us to live out in our families. Amen.

TO KNOW MORE

Genesis 4:2b-16

2 Later she had another son and named him Abel. Abel became a sheep farmer, but Cain farmed the land. 3 One day, Cain gave part of his harvest to the LORD, 4 and Abel also gave an offering to the LORD. He killed the firstborn lamb from one of his sheep and gave the LORD the best parts of it. The LORD was pleased with Abel and his offering, 5 but not with Cain and his offering. This made Cain so angry that he could not hide his feelings. 6 The LORD said to Cain:
  • What's wrong with you? Why do you have such an angry look on your face?
  • 7 If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling. But you did the wrong thing, and now sin is waiting to attack you like a lion. Sin wants to destroy you, but don't let it! 8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let's go for a walk.” And when they were out in a field, Cain killed him. 9 Afterwards the LORD asked Cain, “Where is Abel?” “How should I know?” he answered. “Am I supposed to look after my brother?” 10 Then the LORD said:
    • Why have you done this terrible thing? You killed your own brother, and his blood flowed on to the ground. Now his blood is calling out for me to punish you.
    • 11 And so, I'll put you under a curse. Because you killed Abel and made his blood run out on the ground, you will never be able to farm the land again.
    • 12 If you try to farm the land, it won't produce anything for you. From now on, you'll be without a home, and you'll spend the rest of your life wandering from place to place. 13 “This punishment is too hard!” Cain said. 14 “You're making me leave my home and live far from you. I will have to wander about without a home, and anyone could kill me.” 15 “No!” the LORD answered. “Anyone who kills you will be punished seven times worse than I am punishing you.” So the LORD put a mark on Cain to warn everyone not to kill him. 16 But Cain had to go far from the LORD and live in the Land of Wandering, which is east of Eden.

Matthew 2:13-21

13 After the wise men had gone, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for the child and wants to kill him.” 14 That night, Joseph got up and took his wife and the child to Egypt, 15 where they stayed until Herod died. So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, “I called my son out of Egypt.” 16 When Herod found out that the wise men from the east had tricked him, he was very angry. He gave orders for his men to kill all the boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years old and younger. This was based on what he had learnt from the wise men. 17 So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet Jeremiah had said, 18 “In Ramah a voice was heard crying and weeping loudly. Rachel was mourning for her children, and she refused to be comforted, because they were dead.” 19 After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph while he was still in Egypt. 20 The angel said, “Get up and take the child and his mother back to Israel. The people who wanted to kill him are now dead.” 21 Joseph got up and left with them for Israel.

Ruth 1:6-18

6-7 When Naomi heard that the LORD had given his people a good harvest, she and her two daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab and go to Judah. As they were on their way there, 8 Naomi said to them, “Don't you want to go back home to your own mothers? You were kind to my husband and sons, and you have always been kind to me. I pray that the LORD will be just as kind to you. 9 May he give each of you another husband and a home of your own.” Naomi kissed them. They cried 10 and said, “We want to go with you and live among your people.” 11 But she replied, “My daughters, why don't you return home? What good will it do you to go with me? Do you think I could have more sons for you to marry? 12 You must go back home, because I am too old to marry again. Even if I got married tonight and later had more sons, 13 would you wait for them to become old enough to marry? No, my daughters! Life is harder for me than it is for you, because the LORD has turned against me.” 14 They cried again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth held on to her. 15 Naomi then said to Ruth, “Look, your sister-in-law is going back to her people and to her gods! Why don't you go with her?” 16 Ruth answered, “Please don't tell me to leave you and return home! I will go where you go, I will live where you live; your people will be my people, your God will be my God. 17 I will die where you die and be buried beside you. May the LORD punish me if we are ever separated, even by death!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her, she stopped urging her to go back.

Mark 7:24-30

24 Jesus left and went to the region near the city of Tyre, where he stayed in someone's home. He did not want people to know he was there, but they found out anyway. 25 A woman whose daughter had an evil spirit in her heard where Jesus was. And straight away she came and knelt down at his feet. 26 The woman was Greek and had been born in the part of Syria known as Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to force the demon out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said, “The children must first be fed! It isn't right to take away their food and feed it to dogs.” 28 The woman replied, “Lord, even dogs eat the crumbs that children drop from the table.” 29 Jesus answered, “That's true! You may go now. The demon has left your daughter.” 30 When the woman got back home, she found her child lying on the bed. The demon had gone.