“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV)
Author’s Note: This devotion is not written to endorse divorce, but to encourage those caught in the pain of it.
Blended families are everywhere, in every shape and size. Perhaps you belong to a blended family, either through your extended family or your immediate one. Statistics show that most people reading this are part of a blended family – facing the unique challenges and struggles blended families face. Is it possible for blended families to work through all of this and enjoy happiness?
This Christmas I received a framed photo from my mother-in-law. Because my husband’s parents are divorced, I have two mothers-in-law. But this gift came from my husband’s stepmother. It was a framed group photo of all of us from our beach trip this summer — our family, his dad and stepmom, her daughter and her family, and my husband’s sister and her family. Eleven grandchildren dotted the beach as we all squeezed into the photo. As I studied the photo, I realized that it is a testimony to God’s ability to somehow form a family against all odds.
When I first met my husband 18 years ago, his family was still navigating through the uncharted territory of bringing together three teens from two different families and learning to live in some sort of harmony. Though Curt had left for college, his sister and step-sister remained behind and had some turbulent years as these two girls fought and schemed and cried. I know that those years were difficult for his stepmother and father as well. They questioned their decisions and wondered if they would all live through it.
But they also did something else which I have had the privilege of watching through the years. They sought the Lord. They practiced grace and exercised forgiveness. They turned the other cheek when feelings got hurt. They kept promises that were painful to keep. They demonstrated a love they didn’t always feel. They got stronger as a result of their struggles. They knew that God would work through their obedience, their prayers and their commitment. And, in looking at that photo, I know that He did.
I also grew up in a blended family - I am a stepchild. I know the struggle of having a parent in the home who was not your “real” parent. I know the resentments that can creep in, and have felt the pain of loss when broken relationships fragment families. And yet, I also know the joys and blessings that can occur from having extra family members thrown in the mix. My horizons have been broadened through relationships I have with my stepfather and his children. Their perspective and background has added a richness and depth to my life that I would have missed. I think a blended family can be a visual record of Romans 8:28 being worked out in our lives, “In all things (even the heartbreak of divorce), God works for the good of those who love him.” I think that helping people somehow form a family brings a smile to the Father’s face.
Dear Lord, help me do my part to bring peace to my family—even when You ask me to lay down my pride and be vulnerable. Help me to trust in Your ability to somehow form a family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.