“Lord, how could you possibly be glorified in this?!”In one of the most painful of these conflict situations, God recently brought sweet and humbling reconciliation. What a tremendous gift that was. The other party repented, and we were reconciled to one another. We embraced with tears of deep emotion. The situation is never to be brought up again. God is now re-building trust and relationship between us. What an amazing gift! It truly is the gospel at work among us! I can even see the ways that God taught each one of us lessons that could only have been learned in the trenches of conflict. He exposed sin in all of our hearts, and He gave us a deeper glimpse into the power of the gospel—into what He has done on our behalf! He taught us about His Sovereignty and Goodness in ALL things. He taught us that He is always at work and that He is ALWAYS worthy of our trust, even when situations hurt and do not make sense to us. He has caused thanksgiving and worship to well up in our hearts, as we have seen the miracle He has brought about. He has become bigger to us.
“Lord, isn’t Biblical community supposed to be different than this?”
“Father, aren’t we as Christians supposed to be all about reconciliation—didn’t Jesus reconcile us to you and aren’t you in the process of uniting your people?”
"Father, doesn't it grieve your heart to see disunity among your people?"
"Father, aren't you grieved by the injustices still unexposed and unresolved in this mess?"
Others of these other conflict situations in my life still remain unresolved with no end in sight. They still break my heart--especially in the situations where I see people I love wounded and still struggling in the huge wake of these conflicts. But I have hope in God. I still pray for real reconciliation (and would love your prayers for this too!). But even if these situations do not ever get resolved in my lifetime, even if the truth is not exposed in this lifetime, I know that God is at work in His people. I know God is working in me, in them, and in all of us. I know that He is fully in control. I know that He is doing far more than I can imagine in me, in them, and in others, and I know that His work is wonderful.
It is amazing to me that our Gracious God takes the wicked intents of our hearts and the wicked actions that flow from them, and He uses them for good! While God does not author sin in anyway, He uses even my sin(!) for His good purposes! That is humbling. It is also encouraging in the face of unresolved conflict with Christians.
We see this in the story of Joseph--the man who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, taken into a foreign land, falsely accused of seducing his master’s wife, and wrongfully imprisoned for it. My heart gets impatient about 1 or 2 years of unresolved conflict---Joseph had many YEARS of unresolved conflict with the people to whom he was the closest. Yet, God used the sins of Joseph’s brothers in his plan to rescue His people. God was in control ALL ALONG! Joseph trusted God, he was aware of God’s gracious love toward him, and he was therefore filled with God’s gracious love for others. When Joseph’s brothers came to him because they needed help, Joseph graciously extended it and demonstrated his trust in the goodness and sovereignty of his God:
Genesis 50:19-21 “But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”
Oh, Lord, give me a heart like Joseph with his brothers!! Give me a heart of unwavering trust in your Sovereignty and your Unconditional Goodness and your Wise Plan. Give me a heart that is so rooted in the scandalous love that you have shown me that I cannot help but extend that scandalous love to others. While I was your enemy, you demonstrated your love for me by sacrificing your rights as Magestic Ruler of All, your comfort, and your life. You became nothing so that I, a traitor against you, might live! Thank you, Lord. Help me to love likewise. Help me to believe and trust that you are always at work in all things. Give me a heart for what is unseen—the hope of glory! Thank you, God, for the gift of reconciliation you gave to us—reconciling us to yourself and also making reconciliation with our brothers possible! Thank you for the reconciliation you brought about recently in my life in a situation that was dark and painful. May many come to know you and praise you for this great work! I continue to pray for the unresolved conflicts. I pray that you would continually work in my heart—to show me any areas where I may have sinned and failed to repent. I know that my heart and my sin are deceitful. Show me specifically how to love these people in practical ways--I pray that you would provide such opportunities. Also, show me how to demonstrate your love to those who have been wounded in the wake of these conflicts. Do another marvelous work of reconciliation, I pray, dear Lord!! I pray that you would do it soon too! But, your will be done! Even if the resolution for which we long does not come in this life, help us to trust you in the dark times. Help us to stand firm in your unshakeable Sovereignty and relentless Goodness to us. I pray that you would also speak into the situations of anyone who might be reading this blog and going through something similar. We love you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen