Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah. Genesis 25:9
This tiny gem of a verse can be missed. It’s sitting on the edge of a long genealogical list and normally, it’s the part I’ll want to skip. This morning, the meaning of the sentence hit me. The two brothers were alienated from each other. Their estrangement began with fighting and Sarah would have none of it. She ordered Abraham to cast out Ishmael and his mother from their household. Hagar and Ishmael nearly died in their exile in the desert, and would have, if an angel hadn’t rescued them. Hatred. Resentment for being banished. Would not all these run deep in Ishmael’s heart?
Yet, they come together to honor and bury their father. In their grieving, they found something in common. Perhaps they even forgave each other.
Oh how difficult it was to be siblings in the O.T. Cain killed Abel. Jacob and Esau’s rift is legendary. Joseph’s brothers hated him enough to sell him off to slave traders. Only Moses and Aaron were a successful pair, leading the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Are you in unity with your siblings or are there hurts that run deep? A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred Gates of a citadel. Proverbs 18:19 Family wounds are old, personal, and entrenched.
Hosea says the same thing. “Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’ Hosea 2:1
Not all family wounds will be healed. It takes two to reconcile and each must deal with the truth of the offenses. But it only takes one to forgive. By forgiving, I poise myself on the line of reconciliation and pray for my brother, or sister, to meet me there in truth and humility.
Nothing is too hard for You, Lord. Reunite and bind together what is broken. Loose families of grudges, misinformation, and pride. Amen
Journal Question: Consider the relationship with the one from whom you are estranged. Who is likely to make the first move toward truth and forgiveness? What would it take for you to be willing to be the first? Cast all your hopes on Jesus in prayer and ask for the faint beginnings of a miracle.
For more from Christine Wyrtzen and Jaime Wyrtzen Lauze, please visit www.daughtersofpromise.org
Originally published Monday, 26 September 2016.