Rebuilding Happy Families-Part 2

John H. Ogwyn

As we look around our hurting world, we should recognize that no one comes from a perfect background. However, millions have grown up in circumstances that have left particularly deep scars. These scars will, if not addressed and healed, simply perpetuate the sins of the fathers onto the children—even to the third and fourth generations (see Numbers 14:18).

With so many coming from unhealthy family backgrounds, does that mean that all of these millions have no chance for future happiness? Are you automatically doomed to repeat the problems of the family in which you grew up? Is it really possible to break the cycle and rebuild a healthy family?

Forgiving and Letting Go

Terrible events leave terrible, deep scars. One of the hardest ways for us to respond to hurtful and unfair events is to let go of them. We often try to feel justified in holding on to resentments, blaming life's unfairness. In the long run, however, resentments cause the most hurt to those who harbor them!

The Bible is the world's best psychology book. The Creator, the one who designed the human heart and mind, authored it. In its pages are the stories of many real-life men and women, the choices they made, and the consequences of those choices.

One of the most tragic episodes recorded in scripture is the series of incidents that culminated in the rebellion of Absalom, son of King David. The story did not start with Absalom's rebellion, of course. It started almost ten years earlier when Absalom's sister Tamar was raped by her half-brother, Amnon. In the wake of this incident, Absalom seethed with a deep inner rage. He was furious about what had happened to his sister (2 Samuel 13).

After two years of holding this bottled-up rage, Absalom invited all of his brothers, including Amnon, to join him at his home for a meal. Having coaxed Amnon away from Jerusalem, Absalom killed him and fled the country. King David was devastated by the news. He had now lost two sons—one dead, and the other in self-imposed exile. For three years, there was no contact between the king and his estranged son. Then a ruse by Joab, who was a nephew as well as a close aide to King David, prompted the king to ask Absalom to return to Jerusalem. But even after Absalom's return, David would not spend time with his son, or even see him face to face. King David was so hurt by what Absalom had done that he could not bring himself to reconcile completely. Several more years passed, and Absalom grew increasingly resentful of his father.

Jesus Christ emphasized, again and again, the importance of forgiveness—of letting go of the resentment and hurt.

Finally, Joab succeeded in breaking the logjam once again, and King David invited his son Absalom to visit him (2 Samuel 14:21). There was an outward reconciliation, but Absalom was now so consumed with resentment that he began to plot a revolution to seize his father's throne. When he thought the time was ripe, he struck. At first it seemed that he would be successful, but in the end his army was defeated in battle. Before the armies had clashed, King David had instructed the soldiers not to hurt Absalom, but to "deal gently for my sake with the young man." Those instructions were ignored, and Absalom was killed. David was devastated. "O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place!" he cried. "O Absalom my son, my son" (2 Samuel 18:33).

This whole tragic account shows what can happen when we hold on to deep hurts and resentments. Were those hurts real and understandable? Of course they were! However, we can see how they had a devastating effect on those who held on to them.

Jesus Christ emphasized, again and again, the importance of forgiveness—of letting go of the resentment and hurt. Even as Christ was taken to be executed, He exercised unilateral forgiveness. Speaking of the soldiers who were carrying out His crucifixion, He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).

If you have come out of a painful background and have experienced deep hurt, one of the most important decisions you can make is to let go of the hurt and resentment. This is often hard to do, since we may consider ourselves entitled to those feelings because of what happened. Yet resentment is the source of most spiritual maladies and, when retained, is the root from which bitterness grows.

Face the past honestly. Acknowledge the hurt and loss. It is okay to grieve a loss, but then let it go. Whether to hold on to past hurts or to release themis your choice. Choose to forgive and to go forward.

Rebuilding Happy Families - Part 1

Rebuilding Happy Families - Part 3

Rebuilding Happy Families - Part 4