And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." Exodus 34:6-7 (NIV)
In prison I'm often confronted with women who grew up in highly dysfunctional families. The most shocking reality is the dysfunction did not begin with their generation; sometimes they're the third or fourth generation to continue the cycle of destruction and what many call, a generational curse.
Currently there's a woman in my class whose grandmother shot her own brother, her mother is an addict and whom years ago chose her boyfriend over her daughter who was being abused by this boyfriend, now she's a drug addict, pregnant and in jail for possible prostitution and she has a 15 year old daughter she has never seen, who's rumored to be wild and violent. Did you count the number of generations in this saga? Yup, 4 generations. If we believe in generational curses; this family is doomed.
We throw around the term "generational curse" without fully knowing its implications. You do know it implies that a person whose father and mother sinned greatly is pretty much condemned. You do know we are suggesting that God's grace and mercy is limited. It's easy for us to write off these families and say there is no hope. It's easy for us to give easy answers to complicated situations. We do not understand why in some dysfunctional homes all of the children do not turn out as dysfunctional as the parents. We do not understand how a child can continue to repeat the same behaviors that caused them great pain and suffering.
We cannot simply stop at the above scripture. Yes God is a God of wrath, his wrath scares me often but his grace amazes me the more.
Yes watching mom and dad live dysfunctional lives will definitely have an impact on the children; it's all they know. They're the first people to teach them about the world, about love and trust.
However, we are all responsible for our own actions. At the end of the day we all have choices to make. This is the message of hope for the woman stuck in a cycle of destruction. This is the message of hope for those who earnestly want to get out of that destructive cycle but see no light in sight. This is the message of hope for those who seem to be held captive by the sins of their father.
Is it difficult to break free from the sins of your parents? Indeed it is! It is harder to break that cycle than many of us think. Is it possible? All things are possible with Christ! There is hope with Christ! For all the women caught in this cycle of destruction and what seems to be a generational curse, there's hope! It's up to you to break the chain of violence and destruction in your generation.
Cry out to him and plead for mercy. God hears and honors the cry of his children.
"But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things: He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel... He does not oppress anyone... He does not commit robbery, but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked... He will not die for his father's sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people. Yet you ask, 'Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?' Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him." Ezekiel 18:14-16,18-20 (NIV)