How do you find peace when facing conflict?
Summer holidays: the time of year to kick back and relax so you can be ready to start the year with a spring in your step. But conflict can quickly disrupt these plans.
There is a tendency when embroiled in conflict for it to become all-consuming, making it hard, or even impossible, to unwind and be at peace. It’s like conflict smothers us with a wet blanket, weighing us down, occupying all our thoughts and clouding our view of the world.
Sadly, I have spoken to many people who have shared about conflict arising over the summer holidays. Consequently, plans to unwind have been derailed, leaving them feeling that they are starting the year already behind.
So, what should we do if we find ourselves in this situation? Or phrased another way, what can we do to find peace when in conflict with others?
Well, the first thing to say is that there isn’t a magical answer. Conflict is hard. It takes up head space and it will ripple out into other areas in our lives, but we are not without hope. Jesus offers genuine hope in navigating conflict and being able to find peace when facing it.
In Ps 19:14 we read the following words:
These words have a lot to say to us about how we can seek to find peace when facing conflict.
First, it reminds us, help is available. The opening word, ‘let’, points to these words being a prayer. They are a request, ‘God help me’. So often when we are facing conflict, it can seem like we are on our own and that there is no way out. This verse reminds us, nothing is further from the truth. We have a God who knows us, knows our situation and we can call upon to help us.
Second, it reminds us we have a choice in what we dwell on. We have a choice about what we say and what we think about. In conflict, we can be tempted to talk negatively about the other person and let our mind dwell on the conflict and hurt. These tendencies only make conflicts worse and make it harder to be at peace. Instead, we can, as 2 Cor 10:5 says, ask God to help us to ‘take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.’
Rather than speaking negatively about the other person or the situation, we can express kindness and grace. And rather than letting our minds dwell on the hurt, we can dwell on the forgiveness shown to us by Jesus and see the situation through the eyes of Jesus.
Third, it reminds us, ‘God’s got it’. This verse concludes, ‘O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.’ When we place our trust in God, he becomes our rock and redeemer, a strong and firm foundation to stand on.
Jesus tells a wonderful parable that helps to explain this in Mathew 7, saying that those who hear his words and put them into practice are like the person who builds their house on the rock so that when the storms rages, we remain standing. It is much easier to find a sense of peace in the storm of conflict when we know God is not being buffered by it like we might be. As hard as it might get, he will not let us fall over and even more than this can even redeem us and the conflict we are in.
Conflict isn’t easy, but the gospel gives us hope. We can find peace when facing conflict by lifting our eyes to see our rock and our redeemer, Jesus. In prayer we can lean on him to support us and let him strengthen us to respond in love.
To find out more about how the gospel changes the way we can navigate conflict, consider doing the Everyday Peacemaking course through PeaceWise. This one-day training is centred on helping us understand how the gospel brings genuine hope and helps us navigate conflict well.
Written by Wayne Forward. Wayne currently serves as the National Relationships Manager for PeaceWise. He has a background in Mental Health Nursing, Pastoral Ministry, Leadership Coaching and Missions, currently also working with Pioneers of Australia. He is committed to helping people experience the gospel of reconciliation in their relationship with Jesus and each other.