- Times of loss. This week we turn the page on happy memories of family life to consider some of the losses we endure in our families. Today we must admit that not one of us has lived a life free from the scourges of sin. Thousands of years have gone by, but we still think even of life in the Garden of Eden as a bucolic existence torn apart by the foolish sins of our distant relatives. The first loss, our lesson points out, was the loss of innocence. Unless you’ve lost every visage of honesty, you know where that loss has led you in your life. Let’s shore up our courage and consider some of the consequences of loss due to sin in our human lives.
- Loss of health. What agony it is to observe the consequences of injury and disease in the lives of those we love–not to mention our own suffering. The lesson frames for us stories by the gospel writers about Christians seeking relief from the pain of disease. Consider each of these as family members of yours and reflect on how God’s love was made manifest in them.
Mark 5:22–24, 35-43. “My little daughter”
Matthew 15:22-28. “My daughter…demon possessed.”
Luke 4: 38-19 “My wife’s mother”
John 4:46 “a nobleman with a sick son”
- Loss of trust. Have you ever eliminated a sense of trust in a family member because you could sense trouble ahead? What is the caution our lesson’s leader shares about some of the dangers of breaking trust? But what about the consequences of adultery in a once-Christian home? Can the fracture of a marital relationship ever be forgiven? If you said, “Yes,” explain under what circumstances? And with what cautions? How hard is it to endure the pain of a broken marriage? Can a Christian forgive a marriage partner but not to resume the relationship? How should we reach out to those injured by a fractured marriage?
- Family violence. Every now and then an account of abuse by a family member in the church surfaces. Children, for example, who were beaten severely by a father who claimed to be a Christian tell their stories, many of them with a bitterness that does not go away. We also read horrible stories in the press about outright abuse and parent-inflicted suffering on innocent children. And an occasional account surfaces of teenagers or adult children engaged in cruel behavior towards family members. Of course we know that God does not approve, but what can you and I do when we learn of such treatment of marriage partners and children in our church? Or should we just look the other way?
- Loss of freedom. This section of the week’s lesson deals with bondage to addictive substances and, yes, behavior. “People,” said Peter, “are slaves of whatever controls them.” Examples of controlling substances shared by our lesson this week include the following: “Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, sex, even food.” Getting a habit with any of these items and letting them control us until we no longer control them can cause serious consequences to any of us. What is the greatest and most serious consequence of addiction to such substances? Can God restore freedom to us if we get caught pursuing addictions? How?
- Loss of life. We worry about someone who loses a close family member to death and doesn’t seem to feel any sorrow at all. Far more likely is the deep concern by many of us responding to the death of a parent, husband, wife, child, sibling, or dear friend. What are some ways we can share comfort and support for family or friends who are going through the pain of bereavement? What about the sorrow of losing a child to death? We don’t pray for God to raise up the dead and restore him or her to life, do we? What do you think we should pray for? How often do you think about the grand resurrection when Jesus comes again? Are you ready to help Him welcome His loved ones to a life of eternal joy and peace through eternity?