There are always signs of trouble in a family. Therefore, we are left to wonder how the parents of the teens in the recent shootings in Colorado and Georgia could be so blind and deaf to what was going on.
When a child is withdrawn, lies and steals, doesn't communicate, abuses family pets, destroys toys, won't cooperate with authority figures, has frequent mood swings, or acts out anger in other inappropriate ways, then parents should run, not walk, to get help.
The red flags should be heeded by marriage partners too. If there is little two-way communication with your marriage partner about things that concern or matter to you, or if there is little intimacy in your relationship with your mate, or if there is little conflict resolution other than acquiescing to your partners's point of view, then don't let another day and night of misery go by: Seek help.
Bodily symptoms signal a physical or mental illness. The same is true in family relationships.
We have an excellent example in the Genesis story of Isaac, Rebekah and their two sons, Jacob and Esau. Even in the womb, there was conflict between Esau and Jacob. Rebekah felt the pain of their struggle so strongly that she cried out to the Lord, "If it is to be this way, why do I live?"
The Lord's reply clearly indicated that her twin boys would not live peacefully with each other, for the elder would serve the younger.
We wonder if the sibling rivalry would have resulted in such strong animosities if their parents had avoided showing such obvious favoritism. We read that "Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game, but Rebekah loved Jacob." Jacob was a "momma's boy" and Esau was a "daddy's boy."
Today, we could see that Isaac, Rebekah and their two sons needed family therapy. They needed to go beyond the superficial issues and deal with the source of the deep, underlying animosity. Isaac and Rebekah needed to be shown the error of their blatant favoritism and each be encouraged to bond with the son who was being neglected. Then Esau and Jacob might not have had such enmity for each other.
The story that unfolds shows that God can and does redeem the family so that his sovereign will is accomplished. God does not remove the consequences of our deceptive ways. We still must acknowledge our part in the family's failure and suffer the results. God, however, is always ready, willing and able to redeem us from the error of our ways so that we can rise to walk in newness of life, even if it is to walk with a limp for the rest of our life, as Jacob did with his new name, Israel.