How messed-up is your family? Groucho Marx said, “Happiness is a close-knit family that lives out of state.” You could say the best thing about family is the people and the worst thing about family is the people. Family wasn’t good for Mr. Donohoe who died in 1935; his last will and testament read, “Unto my two daughters, Frances Marie and Denise Victoria, by reason of their bad attitude toward a doting father, I leave the sum of $1 to each and a father’s curse. May their lives be fraught with misery, unhappiness, and poignant sorrow. May their deaths be soon and of a lingering malignant and torturous nature. May their souls rest in hell and suffer the torments of the condemned for eternity.” Yikes! Where is God in a messed-up family?
Joseph had a lot of family issues in Genesis 37. He was one of 12 boys, second to youngest, but the more responsible, the most faithful. Dad put him in charge of pasturing the flock, along with his older brothers, and they weren’t too keen on him being the “top dog.” Dad Jacob loved him, trusted him, and depended on him so much that he gave him a beautiful robe, a princely robe of many colors. He was the definite favorite and Joseph dutifully reported to Dad all the evil his brothers were up to. And this didn’t sit well with the brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. People getting the whistle blown on them don’t love the whistle-blower. Then Joseph had two dreams about being above them all, “Behold, your sheaves were gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf,” and, “Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” This eventually got him kicked off the work crew and almost killed. What a mess! Is your family life as bad as this? Anger, jealousy, hatred, envy, favoritism, attempted murder?
But God is in control. God is in control of a messed-up family. God works to preserve Joseph, to further his role in the bigger story of His plans. God sends dreams to position Joseph for His purposes. Despite the brothers’ treachery, He works through two of them (Reuben and Judah) and the enemy to show mercy on Joseph and set him up for the next phase. I don’t know the depth of the hardships in your family, but I know God is in control. Romans 8:28 says, “He makes all things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” Don’t lose sight of God, underneath it all. God does what He does, His purposes will not be thwarted, and at the right time, He gets what He wants. I don’t know particularly what God is doing in your messed-up and dysfunctional family life, but I know God is in control. Maybe you have angst and anguish in your family, estrangement or brokenness – lay it at the cross, look to Christ for rest, don’t lose sight of God in control. Because He lives you and your family can face tomorrow.