Since the beginning of time, there have been problems within the family system of humans. If we go in order of when family problems began, we could start with man and woman (Adam and Eve) and continue on to the problems within our current families.
There was conflict between man and woman when they ate the fruit that the man was told not to eat, but the woman decided to eat and he followed. Even then, God had a plan to address the problem and help them reconcile their relationship with one another and Him, although life for them would never be the same again.
God reminded the man and woman of what he told them, asked them why they did what the did, explained what the consequences of their actions would be, continued to take care of them by making clothes to cover their skin because they knew they were naked, and then removed them from the area to keep them from being tempted by the tree of life.
What would it look like if we faced the problems in our family the same way as God did with the original family? We can all use help in the area of our problems. David said in Psalm 25: 17-18, NLT “My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins.” Maybe after reading this article, with God’s guidance, we will all be able to address the problems in our families with love, understanding, and correction too.
Family Problems From Day One: Husband and Wives
Adam and Eve started their relationship with a few communication problems. Effective communication might have prevented some of the heartache that they felt early on in their relationship. Adam and Eve knew the rules but didn’t communicate with one another when it mattered the most. Because there was a break in communication between two people, all humans to come suffered.
Poor communication is a major problem today for couples in relationship with one another. Lack of communication within the marriage causes problems that can feel permanent and unmanageable. Part of effective communication is honesty.
Sometimes in marriage, the lines of communication break down when people begin to withhold the truth from one another. God values honesty, there are many moments in the bible where people are reminded about the importance of honesty and the outcome when people are not honest.
Lord, you are searching for honesty. You struck your people, but they paid no attention. You crushed them, but they refused to be corrected. They are determined, with faces set like stone; they have refused to repent. – Jeremiah 5:3
Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people. – Proverbs 11:3
Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! – Psalm 32:2
Couples from the beginning of time have tried to manage their own desires and get ahead of the plan that God has for them. This type of behavior has led to many relational problems for couples. The couples personal problems spread into the lives of the people around them and affect the lives of their children.These problems continue to flow into the generations for many years to come. There are a few examples of couples taking things into their own hands and God had to either make the situation right or explain the consequences.
Either way, God’s way is always worth the wait, but as humans, we like to sometimes try new things and wait to see what will happen next, even if know we should wait for clear direction from God. Take a look at this moment in history where a couple made a decision that caused pretty big problems as a result.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. – Genesis 16:1-2
What happens next for this couple is a little more than what they thought would happen. The problem extended to children and they suffered from the actions of the adults. They experienced moments of jealousy, sadness, loneliness, regret, anger, blame and a list of other emotions. These types of scenarios happen in relationships often but are extremely preventable.
When couples think clearly about their next steps and incorporate prayer into decision making they can feel good about their choices. When couples decide to do things without guidance, they are left in a situation that can be very confusing and they end up asking for help in the long run anyway to correct the problem they have created.
God helps us understand how we can connect with our partners so that we are within the will that He has for our lives. When couples are praying together and intentional in their relationship, making positive choices and waiting until God tells them it is time to move becomes a lot easier.
For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. – Matthew 18:20
Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14
Another problem that was typical in the bible and unfortunately still exists is infidelity. Relationships have the hardest time lasting once one person breaks the trust of the other and has an inappropriate encounter with someone else.
All couples have their own way of dealing with infidelity in the relationship, but for the purpose of addressing this problem in a God-centered way, it is helpful to know how God reacts and what He says.
You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. – Malachi 2:14-15
Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. “Suppose a man’s wife goes astray, and she is unfaithful to her husband and has sex with another man, but neither her husband nor anyone else knows about it. She has defiled herself, even though there was no witness and she was not caught in the act.” – Numbers 5:12-13
God was very specific when He put man and woman together. The purpose was for two people to have a close relationship and help one another, not hurt one another. The plan was for them to create and be beautiful. Yes, problems will exist when two individuals come together, but they do not have to takeover what was intended to be great. With God’s way, there can be peace in the relationship that lasts forever.
Family Problems From Day One: Children
Adam and Eve, the first couple, were also the first parents. They had some struggles with their children, as a matter of fact, one of their sons killed the other. That is pretty extreme, but it points to a problem that is sometimes greater than the parents but centered around the way that children think and behave.
Adam and Eve, I am sure had tried to guide their children in the right direction. The bible is silent on what was happening between birth and the incident that caused a brother to take his brother’s life, but to know parenthood means understanding that a lot of problems that happen with children can be based on the things that they have experienced in the home, but their choices still belong to them.
So, we have Cain and Abel. One brother becomes upset and feels rejected and he kills his brother because of it. Cain was angry; an emotion that all children probably feel in relation to their siblings every once in a while. God tried to solve the problem that was arising from Cain’s anger towards his brother. He even asked him why he was so angry.
Although God provided the space for Cain to work through his feelings and make a positive choice, Cain still decided to do something that would have a consequence attached to it and probably brought great pain to his parents as well.
One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Afterward, the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth. – Genesis 4:8-12
Sometimes correcting the problem God’s way means loving our children through the hurt, disappointment, and confusion. Parents have to stop and engage with their children to help them process their thoughts and emotions. Parents should make an effort to teach their children how to problem solve on their own while guiding them through the steps.
When children make a decision that creates a big problem, parents have to respond in a way that is understandable by the child. It takes wisdom on the parents end to graciously speak to their children in a way that will be firm, yet loving.
God provides quite a few examples of how to give a consequence to an individual (or sometimes whole nations) in a way that is meaningful and heard. The main goal for correction and consequences is to bring awareness to the person or people and prevention for the next time they are faced with a similar situation.
As parents, you have the ability to help your child do better in the future by asking them questions about their actions at the moment, which should push them in the direction of thinking deeper about how and why the problem exists.
God asked Cain what he had done after he killed his brother and then He went on to tell him what the consequences for him were. Even as God was explaining the outcome to Cain based on his behavior, He took time to ease Cain’s fears by confirming that no one would kill him when he expressed his concern about the way people would treat him.
God showed compassion to Cain that day. When helping children through their problems, adults should be compassionate and understanding, as well as firm and clear. God gives clear direction to Cain about what will happen next so that there was no confusion. Parents should do the same.
Family Problems From Day One: Community (The Larger Family)
Sometimes the problem comes from more than just one or two people’s behavior. The Israelites made up one big community of people who had problems for years and years. They first were in slavery and needed to be freed. Then they were free but were making poor choices that caused them to wander for a while in confusion.
God had to step in and make adjustments with this group of people frequently because of the problems that surrounded them. God was always insightful and recognized the problem and the reason the problem existed. He would then create boundaries to keep the people safe and share with them what the dangers were.
Sadly, the people of Israel would only stick with the boundaries set for them for a while before they would encounter another problem. God never gave up on the people He chose to care for forever, but He did get frustrated and the bible even says He got angry. There were groups of people within the community who had to suffer great loss and didn’t make it to where they were promised to go, but it was not without a clear explanation of why.
Today, communities are still dealing with trying to manage the effects of individuals within the community and outside of the community who may be making choices that cause problems to remain. To deal with these problems the way that God did, people with authority and those in leadership within the communities have to remind the people of the rules clearly.
Community leaders should be fair, truthful, and open to understanding the problem before making judgements. God gave the best advice on how to be a leader in the community. The bible says in Romans 12:8 NLT; “If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”
If you are in a relationship, raising children, or are concerned about your community and you are trying to understand how to deal with some of the symptoms you are experiencing while pushing through the problems that exist in your life or the world around you, there are counselors here at Seattle Christian Counseling who can help you process and find peace on your journey.