Is God always good in conflict?
You have no doubt heard the phrase “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”
This is undoubtedly true.
Yet during conflict, we can be tempted to ask “Where is the good, where is God and how can he be good?” This is especially true when there is injustice that is crying out to be rectified. Injustice can make us boil with rage and be desperate for justice to be enacted. We see this on a small scale with our conflicts, and on a world scale with conflicts like the one in the Middle East.
So where does a good God fit into conflict?
God’s goodness is linked with his justice.
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.”Psalm 89:14
Our God is an angry God when it comes to injustice. If he isn’t angry at injustice, then we have diluted God to a sentimental figure who not only isn’t really concerned with our world but also is ineffective.
To understand that God is angry at injustice allows for a Godly response to our peacemaking
Resolving conflict in a God-glorifying manner is never about peace faking and pretending that an offence has not occurred or that it does not warrant addressing. Nor is it about peace breaking and seeking revenge. Peace making requires us to either overlook the offence, which means we absorb the cost of forgiveness, or we seek to gently restore the relationship and resolve any material issues. Godly peacemaking involves justice.
If justice isn’t God’s prerogative, then we have two choices before us. One is to become bitter and to seek revenge and the other is to sink into a state of despair at our situation and the world. God’s anger at injustice gives us assurance that he will deal with injustice. Therefore, we can hand over the meting out of final justice to God.
Secondly, we realise that the justice we ultimately seek is God’s justice, that is making things right according to his criteria. This realisation reminds us of our guilt before him and the depth of the love of God that he sent his son to take the punishment we deserve.
This puts us into the perfect place to seek to make peace. We are free to choose to overlook or to seek to gently restore.
When we overlook, we wear the cost of forgiveness. We can do this because we have been forgiven much and we know God is the God of justice who sees all things.
When we seek to gently restore a relationship and resolve material issues, we do this again from a position of having been forgiven much. We are then humble, gracious, trusting God and being dependent upon him and his ways.
It is hard to not see justice fully enacted – we cry out for justice. But we can trust God with justice for us and for others.
This passage from Romans beautifully captures the key themes of justice and peacemaking and how they intersect when viewed from a Godly perspective – I pray that they may they be both a challenge and encouragement to you:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:17-21
For help in how to be a peacemaker, we encourage you to make 2024 the year you come to one of our in person or live-online Everyday Peacemaking training events. Your life, and the lives of others, could be changed if you come.
This devotional was written by Ann Cunningham. Ann works as a Care Pastor in an Anglican Church. The principles of Peacewise are transforming her work and her relationships in pointing people to Jesus both to strengthen their love of Jesus and restore their relationships. She is married with three adult daughters.