Everybody fights, even in loving families, because we're all broken. Siblings don’t share, they yell at one another, and sometimes even get into physical altercations. Perhaps your nosey aunt starts a gossip chain that ruins a family wedding shower. Maybe the poor choices of a child leave parents disenchanted, disappointed, and disillusioned. But God can use family conflict to bring us to a place he intends, a place of trust and reliance upon Him.
The story of Esau and Jacob is one such story (see Genesis 25). From their time in the womb, these two competed in a power struggle. From stealing his birthright to deceiving his father into giving him the blessing, Jacob continually outwitted his older brother. The whole episode ends up progressing to the point that Esau wants to murder Jacob. Their mother wisely decided to send Jacob away until Esau cools off.
Can you imagine the drama around this story at the time? It is easy to read the Bible knowing the end result, but Isaac and Rebecca didn’t know the outcome. It must have seemed to them that their family was being pulled apart by anger and bitterness…and it was! But God had plans in the middle of that family conflict. God used this conflict to put Jacob where he should be, a place where he built his family and learned to prosper. It was as he was fleeing the wrath of his brother (which seemed justifiable by the way) that Jacob dreamed of God, and made a promise to him. It was on his way back to reconcile with his brother that he realized that God had fulfilled that promise.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is much the same (Gen 37). Joseph often (and possibly unwisely) shared dreams of grandeur with his brothers, causing jealousy and hatred among them. Father Jacob, to make matters worse, openly favored Joseph over his brothers, making the entire situation more volatile. In the end, his brothers decided to sell Joseph as a slave and break Jacob’s heart by deceiving him into thinking that Joseph, his favorite son, had been killed by a wild animal. What a mess! Yet, if Joseph had not been in conflict with his brothers, he would not have ended up in Egypt, where he saved the nation of Israel from certain starvation. Genesis 45:7-8 says, “And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.”
Often times, the best of what God intends in our lives comes out of the working out of difficult family situations. But when we trust in Him, He is well able to bring reconciliation and destiny out of the process. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all of the families of faith in the Bible led perfect lives. The truth is that they were broken and a work in progress, just like our families! No matter what your family is experiencing, choose to believe that God is in the midst of it all and He will bring about His best for your family.