It is a simple rule: no matter the challenge, fixing the relationships is always part of the solution.
My family has had our share of cancer over the years. Maybe yours has as well. It is an insidious disease, because it’s pathology happens at the cellular level…the very foundation for human life. It’s symptoms and related problems are many. It can manifest itself in a seemingly infinite number of ways. And you can treat those symptoms (pain, weakness, etc.) for years and years, but until you address the problem at the cellular level, you are not curing the disease.
In the same way that human cells are the biological foundation of human life, relationships are the emotional and social foundation of life. No matter what your struggle may be today (economic, physical health, family, job, etc.), there is a relational component to it. All of us are vulnerable in that way. Even the most emotionally or spiritually fit person can fall victim to broken relationships in his or her life, and that brokenness can cause all kinds of chaos. So, any complete solution to that problem must necessarily address the relationships involved in order to be effective.
One of the oldest stories in all of scripture is about a man named Job. He was astoundingly wealthy and successful by pretty much anyone’s standards. At the very beginning of the story, he loses all his wealth, all his possessions and his home burns to the ground, killing all his children. Shortly after that, he falls very ill, so that he is unable to work at all. His wife turns against him. His friends turn against him. In short, his was the original “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”.
I won’t tell all the details. You may want to go and read it for yourself. But when God steps in to show Job the way out of his distress, the first thing God requires is that he reconcile with his friends by praying over them and for them. Here’s how the story ends:
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. Job 42:10-11 (NIV)
We would be foolish to read this and conclude that, if we will just fix the relationships in our lives, God will bless us with material wealth. Such a reading of this story would be, well, shallow (to say the least). But what this story from the world’s most amazing book of wisdom does illustrate is that, no matter what the circumstances, no matter the brokenness or injustice or tragedy, our positive steps forward from them include identifying the broken or damaged relationships beneath them. Because relationships are the cells of life.