Most of us are dealing with difficult people, whether it is family or friends. Perhaps you think that’s an understatement when you think about the relationships in your life!
We all have stories of relationships with family or friends that have gone wrong. A brother or sister we haven’t heard from in years. A child we no longer speak to. A friend who never gets back to us. Things that have been said or done that leave us estranged, stressed and disillusioned. How do we pray about these relationships when we cannot see a resolution is ever possible?
One relationship from the Bible comes to mind, from which we can learn how to pray. First, though, let’s look at what went wrong with the relationship and how we can find hope for our difficult relationships.
A difficult relationship
Esau and Jacob’s falling out started in the womb. We don’t expect babies to have a deep-rooted dislike for each other. The hatred of these two brothers began before they were born! What hope did they have?
Jacob’s attitude didn’t help. He was all out for himself. Cunning and conniving to get one up on his elder brother from the moment they entered the world.
Esau didn’t help himself either with his blasé attitude to his inheritance and the rights he had as the eldest child.
Eventually the contention came to a head when Jacob stole what rightfully belonged to Esau. Today, it would be like a family member having no scruples in taking the family inheritance. Perhaps something similar has happened in your life.
Up to this point it seem like Esau didn’t care, but he did. A lot! Esau got so angry, he planned to kill Jacob. So Jacob had to flee.
Esau and Jacob went their own separate ways. You can read the full story in Genesis 25 and 27-28. I wonder how long Esau’s anger simmered? And I wonder if Jacob mulled over his actions towards Esau when Jacob was conned himself, by his father-in-law?
By the time we get to Jacob’s prayer about his relationship with Esau, the two brothers hadn’t seen or spoken to each other for twenty years. But, in reading about their story throughout the Bible it is clear that God had been present all along, directing and shaping their lives, even in those twenty years
I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt (Joshua 24:4)
That one sentence tells us a lot about what God does. He works in the background year after year when relationships are fraught with difficulties.
In that, we can find hope for our own estranged relationships. God is always at work, even if we can’t see it.
None of your relationships are out of God’s reach.
Photo by Dapo Oni on Unsplash