Family Ties

Kristyn Berry, Volunteer Writer, Crystal Lake | January 23, 2024

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  
Proverbs 18:24 

 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.  “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 
Genesis 37:19

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.  
Genesis 39:2-4

Sometimes family isn’t found with the people we share a bloodline with. Sometimes, we choose our family from bonds formed unexpectedly with an open mind, mutual trust, and respect, to name a few.

One of my favorite examples of a chosen family took place in 2016 when Wanda Dench texted her grandson to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner. Unbeknownst to her, her grandson had gotten a new phone number, and she reached seventeen-year-old Jamal Hinton instead. Jamal explained she had reached the wrong number, and then he asked if he could still get a plate at her Thanksgiving dinner, even though he wasn’t her grandson. She responded, “Of course you can. That’s what Grandma’s do… they feed everyone.” This conversation would change the course of their lives from that day forward. Jamal has spent not only every Thanksgiving since with Wanda and her family, but they have also shared the joys and struggles each has had over the past eight years.

I can’t help but think of how divinely and beautifully orchestrated these events are. My mind ventures into all the possibilities. What if Wanda found out she had an old number before she texted? What if Jamal didn’t respond or didn’t ask for a plate at her table? What if Wanda said no?! All these things had to happen for them to find each other. It’s a miracle to me that a family-like bond was created from a wrong number.

In the book of Genesis, we find the story of Joseph, son of Jacob, and his brothers. Joseph’s prophetic dreams made his brothers jealous, fraying the family ties. Once the brothers had had enough, they intended to take Joseph’s life. Luckily, they spared him and sold him to Ishmaelites passing by instead. Betrayed by his own brothers, Joseph landed in Egypt and was sold to an officer of the Pharaoh.

Here is where it gets really good. Genesis 39:2 says, “The Lord is with Joseph, so that he prospers.” Joseph may have felt the weight of his brothers’ betrayal and the lost favor with his brothers, but he never lost favor with the Lord. The Lord stuck by his side to ensure his faithful servant was taken care of.

This is how we are loved by our faithful Father. He never leaves our side and will always walk with us in our times of joy and struggle. He will ensure we prosper—it just might look different than we think.

Next Steps

Think of the significant relationships in your life. Are you blood relatives, or was it a divinely orchestrated beginning with your chosen family?

Pray with thanks for the loved ones in your life.