Can I be honest with you? I struggle with struggles in life. What I mean is that when life doesn’t go the way I thought it should and a curve ball is thrown, I swing for the fence and usually miss entirely. And I usually feel like that’s my third strike. “YOU’RE OUT!” and “good luck next time” are usually how I feel my situation comes to an end.
I’m a person who also likes resolution to any disputes or conflict. When that resolve in not achieved, my whole world is turned upside down. It’s like taking a fastball down the middle for strike two and the game getting delayed, indefinitely, due to a “storm” that blew in… can anyone relate?
How we deal with the struggles in life is what really defines us. Do you try to handle them yourself? Do you run away? Do you seek guidance or outside insight? How about procrastinating and just not dealing with it? Or maybe you handle your situations with poise and confidence.
There are many kinds of conflict that we deal with throughout our lives. Ephesians 4:26 states that we should not let the sun go down on our anger… really!?! Well in Alaska, they have both 20+ hours of sun light and darkness, respectfully throughout the time of year. So, what is this verse really saying, especially in today’s day and age?
Everyone reacts to anger a little differently. Some people sulk and get quiet. Some people scream and slam doors. Some people say harsh and mean things. Some people do all of these things and more. Anger can be a powerful and destructive thing. Anger can destroy families, relationships, and even lives. Even suppressed and buried anger can be destructive. So, if it is ok to be angry, where is the line when it goes too far?
“According to Paul, even though we feel anger, we are still supposed to not let evil talk come out of our mouths, but speak the truth in love and speak only things that impart grace. We are told not to let the sun go down on our anger because we should not burry it, let it fester and hold on to it. We are told to deal with our anger in a constructive and grace-affirming way. I know, I know, at this point some of you are thinking – ‘yeah right, if you only knew what they did.’ You are right, I don’t know, but God does.” Liz Arkelian
In this article the author, Liz Arkelian, talks about how each issue, negative in nature, we deal with in life is typically dominated by the anger that we feel about those kinds of situations. “Often, anger is a mask that keeps us from dealing with the real issues” (Arkelian). Proverbs 15:1 shows us that, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” So, is it better just not to say anything when I feel like I still need to be resolved? Is it ok to be angry?
Like most of you, I don’t have all the answers. And most of the time I need someone else to feed into my life to help me walk through these struggles. Proverbs 21:23 says, “whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” I can’t remember how many times I’ve had to “bite my lip” in order to not cause more issues, even though everything in me was screaming at the person/issue that stood in my face.
The one thing I do know, is that we as Christ followers are called to be peace-makers. I like how the Daniel Mace New Testament words Romans 12:18, “do all you can to live peaceably, if it be possible, with all mankind.” Other versions have the phrase: “as it depends on you” which to me is a profound statement. To me, that, “as it depends on you”, statement puts the responsibility on me and you in any and all situations that we encounter.
The one thing that I must continually remind myself is that I’m not left alone to deal with my life’s curveballs. So, with that, I want to remind you that you are not alone! You do not have to deal with your situations without help. We, as believers in Christ, have two of the most important resources available. First, other believers, and more importantly, God! Enough said!
I do want to leave you with the 7 Steps out of a Selfish Cycle of Personal Conflict:
1. Submit to God – what are you holding away from Him?
2. Resist the devil – what are you giving over to Him?
3. Draw near to God – where are you hiding or running from Him?
4. Cleanse your hands – what outward behavior needs to stop?
5. Purify your heart – what inward attitude needs to change?
6. Be wretched mourn and weep – where do people need to see godly sorrow?
7. Humble yourself – where do you need to admit you’re wrong and ask forgiveness?
Remember, those who are in Christ are called to be peace-makers. That requires for us to be intentional with how we deal with conflict.” Biblical Soul Care Harvest Bible Chapter
Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”