by Shelby Turner
Disclaimer: Please note that this blog is specifically talking about non-threatening conflict. If you or someone you know is experiencing conflict that results in physical or emotional harm you should seek help immediately. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 by phone at 1(800)799-SAFE or by texting START to 88788.
We would all choose a world with no conflict, especially when it comes to our family. Those closest to us are those we most desire to live in harmony with. But, harmony gives way to discord in every family at times. Many of us have experienced disagreements, disappointments, and arguments within our family. Some of us have experienced a conflict that fractures deeper like addiction or divorce. A world full of sin makes family conflict unavoidable. But, it was not supposed to be this way.
When God created mankind, He made them good (Genesis 1:31); they lived in harmony and in His presence. However, it did not take long before the serpent tempted Eve to do something God had forbidden. He offered her a piece of fruit; how harmful could that be? But it was harmful. God had told her it was. But she, supposing God had lied to her and that the fruit He forbade would actually bring life and not death, took a bite. Then, Adam ate it too. They sinned. And it changed everything. Sin entered the world when humans believed they knew better than God. And conflict flourishes in our families for the same reason.
But, we are not left without hope in our sin-prone world. While family conflict is taxing emotionally and spiritually, Christians have an anchor in storm-tossed times. Our anchor is Christ. Those who believe in Christ and are saved have His Spirit in them to help, comfort, and give hope. And we have God’s Word, the Bible, to instruct and give wisdom. Through the Bible we learn the many ways Jesus steadies us as the waves roll in.
- We are anchored in hope. While sin causes conflict within our families, in God, sin does not have the final say. Sin makes us unrighteous, but Jesus offers us forgiveness of sins and newness of life.
We know that all people sin and suffer the consequences of sin (Romans 3:10). Yet, while sinners are helpless to do anything about this on their own, Jesus chose to die and take on Himself the full punishment for all sin (Romans 5:6,10-11). Anyone who chooses to believe in Christ as the redeemer for their sins is given a new life in Christ, they are born again (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Because of this, there is always hope for change, health, and harmony within a family. The salvation Jesus offers transforms all those who receive it. We are anchored in the hope that with Christ, change is always possible.
- We are anchored in His presence. Often what we need most in times of stress and strain is peace. Jesus offers us this in His presence. In John 16, Jesus warns His disciples that times will be hard after His death. He tells them they will experience suffering in this world but to take heart and be courageous because He has conquered the world (John 16:33).
Then He says, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33). Jesus is telling His disciples, and you and I, that peace cannot be found in the world, but it can be found in Him. We cannot control our family situations, but we can control where we go to find peace. We will always find peace in Jesus, and we will never find it elsewhere. When we keep our hearts set on Jesus and His perfect love, then we are firmly anchored and able to better handle the ups and downs of family conflict.
One simple way to turn your attention toward Jesus is to use verse cards. I like to put them in places where my mind often wanders into stress or anxiety. One is by the kitchen sink, another is at my desk, and another is on the bathroom mirror. The goal is not to avoid thinking about the difficult situations in our life, but to invite the truth and peace of God into those hard moments to anchor us.
- We are anchored in prayer. The most natural response to a difficult situation is to try to fix it. Sometimes, this works, and sometimes, it does not. We cannot will our desired outcome to fruition. But, God’s will always come to fruition.
There are many things we cannot control in times of family conflict, but God controls it all. And He is working at all times in all things to bring about His plan. Prayer is one way we join God in the work He is doing in our family. And even when we feel like we do not have the words to pray, He is with us. Read what Romans 8:26-28 says:
In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Prayer is where we can vent our frustration and anger, express our desires and the fear that they will not be met, and express our trust in God to handle every tense and trying moment. Pray anchors us.
There is no magic formula for overcoming family conflict. Times of strife are hard and heavy. But you are not alone there. Jesus is your anchor when the skies grow dark and the waves rise around you. In Him, you always have hope that change is possible. In His presence, you can find peace. And in prayer, we release our tears and wait for His unfolding plan. For as long as the storm rages, He will anchor you securely.