Research on families in America indicates that one out of every three Americans is either a step-parent, a step-child or has some other form of a blended family in some way, which means almost 100 million people. It is estimated that more than half of all Americans either have been or will be included in a blended family during their lifetime.
Blended families can create incredible stress, but they can also turn out to be an incredible blessing! If blended family is to be a blessing, we need to learn how to handle the unique pressures in a way that will honor God. The story of Abraham in Genesis 21:8–21 will let us peek at some unique causes of pressure on a blended family and also give us some instruction on how to respond to that pressure.
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The Source of the Pressure (Genesis 21:8–11)
The #1 cause of stress in a second marriage is children. Kids have a difficult time adjusting to each other because of their differences. Many times they resent the new step-parent and make it a personal mission to make them pay. Sometimes the new step-parent is miserable.
In addition, parents have a difficult time adjusting to new kids. All of a sudden you have a teenager in your house or a couple of teenagers in your house. You, as parents, may disagree over discipline. Sometimes biological parents can show favoritism and resent rejection from their new child.
Then there are former spouses. New family is challenging enough when exes get along. It’s really complicated when they don’t. Abraham and Sarah had some drama with Abraham’s ex-lover and the mother of his oldest child (Genesis 16:4–6).
Relief for Blended Family Pressure (Genesis 21:12–13)
If you are now married, there’s hope! Abraham died old and satisfied with life. It wasn’t easy at times, but this man grew in faith and God kept His promises to him (Genesis 25:8). How can you get to this point?
- Listen to God: When you have a relationship with God, His Spirit lives inside of you. He lives with you and in you. He talks with you all day.
- Honor your spouse: One of the biggest mistakes you can make in a new marriage is letting your ex or children run your family. Can I remind you of God’s order for family? Genesis 2 says you leave, cleave and become one. Kids came after that. Affirm you love and commitment to your spouse, and don’t side with your kids over your spouse
- Work together: A happy home life won’t just happen. A good marriage and family require prayer and work.
The pressure of a blended family can seem like an unmovable rock in your life. But if you haven’t called on God, you haven’t used all your strength. Paul uses this real life story in the New Testament as an allegory for two different ways you can do your life:
- Abraham and Hagar (the way of flesh): This is doing what seems right and reasonable and expedient. You try to do God’s will by your own strength.
- Abraham and Sarah (the way of faith): You follow God and not self-effort. You trust His promise and not your ability.
How are you doing family — by flesh or by faith? How are you doing life — by flesh or by faith? Surrender your life to God today.