By Kathi Pelton
This week families all over our nation gathered around tables to share in the celebration of Thanksgiving. As I viewed many pictures of families smiling together I thought of the “stories behind the smiles” that often are much different than what a social media post relays.
This past week one family that we know lost their wife and mom in a car accident. Another, spent the day remembering a child that they lost recently and still another faced pending cancer treatments. Behind our family photos we are feeling the ache as we prepare for some family members to move 3000 miles away, one child was not present and is facing homelessness, one has just fallen in love and can’t stop smiling, and one couple going through the pains of infertility. A true mix of joy and pain.
There is always incredible beauty and deep felt pain in the background of every picture, every life and every family. No one is exempt from the joy or the pain. But what makes it all worth it is that we are a part of a family. We rejoice together, we weep together and we risk experiencing pain to experience the joy and beauty.
Why did Jesus go to the cross? It wasn’t to give a “hero of the day” social media post…it was to make a way for His family to be together for all eternity. Family was the “joy set before Him” as He endured the cross. Before the creation of man and woman; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit weren’t bored or unhappy but they knew that making a family in their image would be good! When sin, pain and heartbreak touched that family they knew that no sacrifice was too great to gain them back.
This is what God is still longing for! His mission has not changed. He wants to bring back all the sons and daughters who have gone astray or who are not experiencing family. There are still members of the family missing from the picture! He rejoices with the family gathered around Him and yet there is deep pain for the ones that are missing. There are stories behind the smiles that compel Him to send His sons and daughters to leave everything to try to fulfill the longing to see His family united as one.
Our family moves many times and the majority of those moves have been to go where His heart is calling us to in order to fulfill His longing for the family in that city and nation. This is the story for many who have said, “Here I am, send me.”
God loves family!! He is the One who sets the lonely in family. If you are lonely then there is family for you! They are all across the world and waiting to receive you. Don’t sit alone…find family! Wherever we have been there has always been a family there to be a part of. Is it a perfect family! No, there is pain, brokenness, imperfections and dysfunction of some sort within every natural and spiritual family but there is love, joy and beauty to be found if you’re willing to embrace the “weeping and the rejoicing.” You can’t have one without the other.
As we enter into the holiday season, let’s remember that perfection isn’t the goal…family is. So sit with the broken and comfort them, hear the voices of the ones who feel unheard, hug the ones who feel unloved and ache with the one who is struggling to find hope. Then and only then will joy come and rejoicing come. May the story behind the smiles in pictures be one that says, “Through it all I have been well loved!” That is what makes family.
Let us love well! As we finish this year and prepare for a new year let us strive to be more present with the one standing in front of us, let’s listen more attentively, love more deeply, give more readily and “feel” more sensitively.
A social media post is merely the cover photo of a book that tells a much longer story. It’s a story of joy and pain, successes and failures, gains and losses, tragedies and triumphs. The story is what makes true family; not the picture. Our God isn’t looking for the perfect family, He’s merely wanting every person ever created to be a part of His family. Let’s see His dream come true by loving well…in weeping and rejoicing we can truly be a family.
November and December are the months of the year that most faith-based ministries experience a large decline in giving. Will you stand with us by making these months known as the best giving months of the year? To give a gift to this ministry, go to: https://www.inscribeministries.com/