Growing up in a Latino family, my siblings and I learned from a very early age that "family is everything." We lived together, protected each other and stood together, no matter what.
But this belief tested my family a few years ago when my younger sister made some poor decisions. Engrossed in a life of drug abuse, promiscuity and stealing, her actions tore our family apart. Could we stand beside her and support her in spite of her destructive lifestyle? And what does support even look like for a loved one who is struggling?
My experience reminds me of the story in Luke 15:11-31, in which the younger son asked his father for his share of the estate, then set off for a distant country and squandered his wealth in wild living. I’ve often wondered what the father was thinking while his son was out living recklessly. Did he want to go searching for him? Did he wish he had offered more support while his son was still living at home? Or did he think the best way to support his son was to simply let him be?
I’ve struggled with similar thoughts. How do I support my sister in the midst of her struggles?
While the Bible doesn’t tell us much about the father’s reaction when his son left, it does describe his emotions when his son returned home. The Scripture says, "…But while [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20, NIV).
Maybe you have a loved one who is struggling with drug abuse or alcoholism, navigating financial insecurity or attempting to find direction in life. In these situations, you can offer support by showing compassion, as the father did, by offering earnest prayer or by listening. You may also offer support in other ways—like granting a hug or kiss.
As you support your loved one today, keep these three Bible verses in mind:
- Be compassionate: Colossians 3:12b (GNTD)
…So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
- Be Prayerful: Ephesians 6:18 (GNTD)
Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people.
- Trust God: Psalm 27:14 (CEV)
Trust the Lord! Be brave and strong and trust the Lord.
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