Complicated Families

When Jacob and Esau were still in Rebekah, they started fighting.  Jostling, the Bible says.  Enough so that Rebekah inquired of God.  His answer was that they would be separated and would struggle in life.  Why are families so complicated?  Must be the people…

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
Genesis 25:19-23

I find it interesting that after the story of Isaac and Ishmael we enter the story of Jacob and Esau.  The first story is about half brothers and the next about twins, and both are about rivalry and family dynamics and the Lord’s will.

We think these things should be simple, and yet the stories of Scripture reflect the complex stories of life.  We live in these times.  Families are not simple.  Sibling issues are not simple.

We know that there are golden children and jealousies and in the story of Jacob and Esau there is a birthright at stake.  Why do things unfold the way they do?  Why is one child uber-successful and the other not?  Has one been favoured?

The lesson of the stories of families for me is trust in God.  We cannot always make the bed we get to lie in.  Sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control and often in the clear control of God.  And that is hard for us to take.

God knows, however.  He knows us.  Individually.  And our lives with him and in his plan matter.  Much of the other stuff doesn’t matter so much.  We must live the circumstantial cards we are dealt. 

As the boys jostled inside Rebekah, God had the answer.  He saw the future because he was determining their positions in life.  This leaves me trusting God.  God knows.  And it leaves me with grace on my heart toward my siblings.  And a happy heart for their own blessings and pursuits.

It’s complicated, yet it all resides in the hand of God.


Marc Kinna


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