Give thanks... for CONFLICT???
As usual, Paul [in Philippians 4:2-9] urges us to be God-centered in our approach to conflict. Moreover, he wants us to be joyfully God-centered. Realizing we may skip over this point, Paul repeats it: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" What on earth is there to rejoice about when you are involved in a dispute? If you open your eyes and think about God's lavish goodness to you, here is the kind of worship you could offer to him, even in the midst of the worst conflict!
O Lord, you are so amazingly good to me! You sent your only Son to die for my sins, including those I have committed in this conflict. Because of Jesus I am forgiven, and my name is written in the Book of Life! You do not treat me as I deserve, but you are patient, kind, gentle, and forgiving with me. Please help me to do the same to others.
In your great mercy, you are also kind to my opponent. Although he has wronged me repeatedly, you hold out your forgiveness to him as you do to me. Even if he and I never reconcile in this life, which I still hope we will, you have already done the work to reconcile us forever in heaven. This conflict is so insignificant compared to the wonderful hope we have in you!
This conflict is so small compared to the many other things you are watching over at this moment, yet you still want to walk beside me as I seek to resolve it. Why would you stoop down to pay such attention to me? It is too wonderful for me to understand. You are extravagant in your gifts to me. You offer me the comfort of your Spirit, the wisdom of your Word, and the support of your church. Forgive me for neglecting these powerful treasures until now, and help me to use them to please and honor you.
I rejoice that these same resources are available to my opponent. Please enable us to draw on them together so that we see our own sins, remember the gospel, find common ground in the light of your truth, come to one mind with you and each other, and restore peace and unity between us.
Finally, Lord, I rejoice that this conflict has not happened by accident. You are sovereign and good, so I know that you are working through this situation for your glory and my good. No matter what my opponent does, you are working to conform me to the likeness of your Son. Please help me cooperate with you in every possible way and give you glory for what you have done and are doing.
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 84-85
Food for Thought
When you are gathered around the Thanksgiving dinner table this week, instead of giving thanks in spite of the present conflicts in your life...give thanks for those conflicts! Pray the above prayer, substituting the names of those from whom you are estranged each time the prayer reads, "my opponent". Does this change your view of the conflict? Of God's role in it? Of your opponent? Of what it means to give thanks?
Resources To Help You Respond to Conflict Biblically
Are you struggling with conflict in your family? If so, then Peacemaking for Families was written for you. This book introduces the basic principles of biblical peacemaking and directly applies those principles to marriage, parenting, and other relationships in the extended family. Peacemaking for Families will thoroughly bless you, challenge you, and help transform your home from a battlefield to a place of peace. You can order it through our online bookstore or by calling our Resource line at 800-711-7118.
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