Growing Through Relational Conflict
My friend was struggling. She’d been hurt deeply, unjustly, and by someone she’d once been close to. Worse, past experience told her this individual wouldn’t likely handle the situation in a godly manner. Rather, she’d spew her anger and her slanted representation to all who would listen. My friend worried her social group and faith community would be shattered, or at the very least, that she’d be shoved aside. That others would form conclusions and opinions on what they heard and would ultimately reject her.
This situation consumed her. It stole her joy and distracted her from her God-given mission. Which was ironic as the original conflict stemmed from that mission, or more accurately, challenges to it. In other words, she’d expressed concern regarding behavior she deemed counter-productive to the gospel. And while she admitted she hadn’t addressed the situation with the grace she should have, her urge to do so stemmed from Christ.
Unfortunately, however, she’d allowed her passion to initiate action before her heart had a chance to listen.
Oh, how often I do the same! When I see sin or dysfunction, manipulative or hurtful behavior, something deep inside pricks as an impulse to act ignites. And while that emotion, that conviction-based reaction, isn’t wrong, it’s incomplete and uninformed. It’s a signal that I need to seek God—His heart and guidance—for the situation and all involved. Because only He knows the best way for me to proceed—how to bring hope and life and healing to areas and interactions that are dark and diseased.
In Psalm 25, a man named David, who later became ancient Israel’s second king, endured frequent and ongoing attacks. Evil men, driven by insecurities, jealousy, and pride, hunted him down. One man in particular, the nation’s current ruler, wanted David dead and made this desire his life’s mission. He was relentless and his actions were unfair. David could’ve fought back. He could’ve told everyone he encountered of the injustice of it all, of how evil and deranged his enemies were.
What’s more, he who’d single-handedly conquered a nine-foot, tyrannical giant, could’ve assassinated his greatest threat and, presumably, spent the remainder of his life in peace.
But he didn’t. Instead, he sought God—regularly, fervently, and fully.
In Psalm 25, clearly written during a time of intense conflict, he said:
“To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust. … let not my enemies exult over me” (v. 1, ESV). In other words, “I surrender my life and this situation to You and trust You to protect and defend me.”
He continued, “Indeed, none who wait for You shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous” (v. 3).
David was able to wait, to rest in God’s sovereignty and timing, because he knew deep in his heart that God was just. That though evil appeared to be winning at that moment, truth and goodness would prevail.
But here’s his power prayer:
“Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all day long” (v. 4-5).
In the middle of his pain and fear, while enduring injustice, David sought God, saying, in essence, “What should I do now? How do You want me to respond? Show me, lead me, and teach me.”
Oh, the wisdom and strength in those words. Can you imagine what our relationships might look like if we learned to seek not just God’s intervention or vindication, but more importantly, His heart?
A while back, a loved one came to me in tears. She, like my friend, had been deeply hurt. I listened, hugged her, then asked, “Have you prayed about this?” When she responded that she had, I asked further, “And how are you praying?”
She said, “I told God this sucks.”
I laughed and nodded, agreeing with both her and Christ in her. But then I said, “Ask Him what He wants to show you.”
Her venting to God openly and honestly was a great start. May we always unveil the depths of our heart and hurts to the One who knows and loves us deeply. But may we not stop there, lest we get stuck in the pain or respond in unguided emotion. Rather, may we, like David, ask our Savior to show us, lead us, and teach us.
When we do that, the results will be beautiful, regardless of how our situations turn out, because God will strengthen and change us through it. He’ll help us become a little more like His Son, who demonstrated incomprehensible love in the face of injustice and evil—because His vision centered on something far beyond that moment to the souls of all mankind.
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Building a Family
Creating a circle of love together…
Can love for two little matchmakers
unite their reluctant hearts?
Worried that Noah Williams is still the reckless bull rider she remembers, Kayla Fisher is convinced he isn’t the right person to care for their orphaned niece and nephew. Now she’s back home, determined to fight for custody. But Noah is a changed man, and he intends to prove it. When Noah and Kayla start falling for each other, could raising the children together be the perfect solution?
Visit Jennifer Slattery online HERE.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.