In my ministry I frequently come into contact with families in crisis mode. The events that lead them to the self-imposed variety of crisis are varied, but the most common villains are financial overload, marital strife and childhood rebellion. Lurking behind these issues I often find unfaithfulness, alcoholism, addiction and unresolved conflict.
There are also many kinds of crisis imposed on families through no fault of their own. This list includes unemployment, illness, accidents, death, natural disasters and crime.
Sometimes the self-imposed and imposed come together to create the perfect storm. For example, I have seen people with functional alcoholism drink themselves to death over the death of a loved one. And I have seen unexpected financial stress destroy marriages that were just beginning to heal. This is what often makes crisis in a family so complicated. When our trials are a combination of things we can and can’t control we have trouble wading through it all and coming to terms with our emotions and personal responsibilities.
King David is a good case study on this very subject. You may know David’s son Absalom usurped his father’s throne and had to be killed to save the kingdom of Israel from chaos. Well, alright, maybe he didn’t have to be killed, but that was the end result of his behavior. Although what Absalom did was treacherous, I have always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for him. Absalom lived under the shadow of David adulterous affair with Bathsheba and his murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah. If this wasn’t bad enough, when Absalom’s sister Tamar was raped, David did nothing. Absalom’s betrayal was a terrible act of treason, but in his mind he must have thought he was “righting” a number of wrongs committed against him.
I am not suggesting every family crisis is rooted in sin. On the contrary, I often work with families that face circumstances beyond their control with faith and character. However, it has been my general experience that crisis is multilayered, and nowhere is this more true than in our family where our lives are intertwined with others.