A Family Circle Series: The Two Greatest Tragedies

By Leslie Diestelkamp

Of course this may be a matter of opinion, but in the previous article regarding tragedies in the home, I discussed financial ruin and death, and I mentioned that other greater calamities would be discussed in this paper. So, without minimizing the terribleness of those two emergencies, let us consider others, as follows:

Catastrophic Disease

Previously, I said there are worse things than death and this may be one of them. When a companion. is undergoing tests and the sober doctor takes you aside and whispers “cancer,” it is like an arrow in your heart and like a numbing blow to your brain. To see a loved one slowly but steadily becoming blind, or to watch the crippling grip of arthritis, or especially to witness serious mental deterioration-all of these (or any of them) plus many other similar tragedies bring deep, long-lasting grief to loved ones who must stand by and watch in near helplessness.

We dread these calamities so much, not because of duties they impose upon us in caring for our loved ones, for such care becomes a labor of love to be cherished, but we dread these because of the suffering we must see, and yet, which we cannot share. When we have done all that medical science can do, when we vainly but sincerely wish we could take the suffering for our own to relieve our loved one and when there is nothing left to do except to pray, we must yet bear this burden of grief without bitterness and even with a cheerful, uplifting sympathy.

We have not manifested the Spirit of Christ if we deny those who suffer the privilege of grief nor have we been most helpful to them if we refuse to shed the sympathizing tear. However, when we “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15) we must not weep with despair. We must indeed sympathetically share their sorrow so that we may also inspire them with confidence, with courage and with enduring fortitude.

Sin In The Family Circle

But to me the most terrifying word is not “cancer” or “death,” etc., but it is “sin.” I believe the greatest tragedy that can befall a family may be described by no other word than “sin.” Compacted into that three-letter word is all the anguish of heart, the sorrow of spirit, and the bitter depths of grief that can come to the sincere child of God whose heart bleeds for the loved one who has fallen. A few people turn their backs upon the sinful. Many others defend the sinful, even to deny wrongdoing itself. The faithful follower of Christ will surely recognize the sin, hate it with all his might, but look upon the sinner with compassion and pity.

When there is a deep, abiding love in the family, and when there are scriptural attitudes, tragic sinfulness need not destroy the home. Sin must be denounced. The sinner must be made to see his sinfulness. By firm counseling, he must be brought to repentance and then, by compassionate sympathy, he must be brought to courageously “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Many family circles would not have been broken if those “who have no sin” would have “cast the first stone.” That is, a family that is broken by sin is not necessarily broken by the sin of one person alone! Sometimes the most unforgiving person is one who is also guilty!

Of course, the impenitent sinner must be treated with firmness and sometimes such impenitence may actually be cause for dissolution of the union. For instance, it seems unreasonable that a pure, undefiled spouse should continue a marital relationship with a companion who continues persistently and without remorse in adultery. Likewise, a wife who would shield and protect a dishonest husband would seem to be a partaker in his evil deeds. However, many homes are broken because one companion is seeking a way out-is glad to pounce upon the one who stumbled and kick him into the gutter, instead of snatching him out of it.

So, to the erring, wandering, wayward ones we need to admonish repentance. In humble contrition, turn from sin and confess to God and to those you have offended. Contemplate the terror of eternal destruction if you continue in sin and take advantage of amazing grace for your forgiveness if you return to God and to your family. And to those who have the opportunity to save a family circle by forgiving a companion, we plead for forgiveness in behalf of those who need you now as never before, and in behalf of a family relationship that may thus be salvaged for happiness for all concerned.

Truth Magazine XXII: 22, p. 354
June 1, 1978