Conntecting the Dots

Holidays and Hurtful Family Relationships

American Thanksgiving weekend has arrived, and Christmas is on the way. Holidays draw families together—at least in the physical sense. But sometimes they become an emotional testing ground.


This is nothing new. Recall Hannah’s situation. She shared her husband with a second wife, Peninnah. As though that wasn’t enough to create family tension, her husband played favorites. He clearly loved Hannah more, and that made Peninnah jealous.


Every year the family traveled to Shiloh to worship at the Tabernacle, and every year the same emotions flared. Peninnah mocked Hannah’s inability to conceive, and Hannah was reduced to tears. She was so distressed that she couldn’t even eat (1 Samuel 1:3-7).


How do holiday family dynamics work for you? Maybe you’re thinking, Great! We truly love each other and enjoy spending time together.But perhaps you’re thinking otherwise: Heaven help us all. Spending time together is ‘way too stressful.


If the latter describes you or someone you know, then here are three insights we can learn from Hannah’s situation.


  • Extend grace

Every year on that holiday, Peninnah watched her husband demonstrate that he loved Hannah more than he loved her. Imagine the rejection she felt. She reacted in an inappropriate manner, and her response hurt Hannah deeply.


Do you have a relative who says or does hurtful things when you’re together? Remember—hurting people hurt people. It’s probable that your family member has emotional pain that hasn’t been addressed. Ask God to show you the root cause for that behavior and to help you see that person through His eyes.


  • Pray

Hannah experienced such anguish that she couldn’t even eat. Finally, one year in deep distress, she poured out her heart to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:10-20). Doing so lifted her burden and changed her perspective. She returned a transformed woman knowing the Lord cared deeply for her needs.


To whom do you turn when you feel upset about a particular family member? Pour out your heart to the Lord. He knows every detail and understands the dynamics. Invite Him into your situation and expect Him to work. His answer might not look like what you think it should, but that’s okay—it’ll be better!


  • Worship

Hannah worshiped the Lord in her distress. Her burden lifted when her focus changed from her pain to His character.


Ruth Graham Bell once said that worry and worship cannot share the same space. Rather than worry about the next family holiday, begin now to worship God for His faithfulness, wisdom, and love. When the holiday begins and the same old stress raises its head, choose to worship God for His grace and forgiveness in your life and for the Holy Spirit given to you so that you might live victoriously.


#FamilyHolidays  #LovingOthers #bgbg2

2 Responses to “Holidays and Hurtful Family Relationships”

  1. Nancy Griggs

    My Thanksgiving was the worst. I have a young man visiting who is like a nephew. He had these great plans to cook a big dinner. He left early in the morning, I thought to go to the store. He returned at 11 pm. My dinner was crackers with peanut butter and stale cookies. I can still praise the Lord and thank Him for all his blessings. And enjoy the big meal I cooked for today.

  2. Grace Fox

    Oh, Nancy. I’m soooo sorry to hear that. Words fail me, but your attitude about it blesses me. You are an amazing woman of God.


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