“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)
Shutting the moving van door, I turned to face the house we’d lived in for 18 years. Waves of memories washed over me as I pictured all the first-day-of-school photos, birthday parties and bedtime prayers. Tears stung my eyes with those sweet memories. But then, without warning, other memories surfaced.
All those 18 years weren’t easy. There were many hard moments … arguments, childhood disobedience, financial challenges and even more painful experiences as we raised children who joined our family from a war-torn country.
Resentment started to rise in my heart at the intrusion of those hard memories into what I’d wanted to be my last sweet moment in front of my home.
But then I clearly heard God speak to my heart, saying: Every good story has conflict.
I had to chuckle, because as an avid book reader and movie watcher, I know that. Even the tamest Hallmark movie has some kind of conflict. We wouldn’t stick with a book very long without conflict.
Storytellers know that conflict engages the listener. We’re drawn into the challenge, suffering and, ultimately, promise of resolution. Conflict highlights what’s important to us; it illuminates our character and forces us to make decisions. But perhaps the greatest draw of conflict is the promise of resolution — where what seemed futile and hopeless
The Bible is filled with stories of conflict and resolution — woven into the human experience. Perhaps one of the greatest stories is Joseph and his brothers, found in Genesis 37-50. As the second-to-youngest son, he surely lived a life of ease, until he made his brothers jealous, and they sold him into slavery. Fast forward a few years, and Joseph leads all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.
The story has multiple twists and turns in the middle, but eventually the brothers reunite when a famine sends them to Egypt for food, and they discover Joseph is now in charge.
Joseph’s heart is tender and forgiving toward his brothers, and he speaks words that echo to this day for all of us who wonder if anything good can come out of the conflict we are experiencing: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20, NIV).
Getting in my car, I wiped the sweat from my face and thought about how God used conflict in my life. Nothing I experienced surprised Him, nor did it go to waste. I could see how those conflicts made me a kinder, more grace-giving person. I no longer judged others for what had previously seemed like weakness in their lives. I’d been brought to my knees more than once and no longer wrapped pride around me like a banner of honor.
Maybe the greatest benefit of all the conflicts was a greater dependency on God. The girl who thought she could solve every problem by working harder or smarter was gone. In her place was a more humble woman who knew that without God, she’d be lost.
My life isn’t conflict-free today. Nor will it ever be. As a pastor once said, “You are either just getting out of trouble, in trouble now, or about to enter trouble.” It’s inevitable. But so is God’s power! When we look at conflict in light of eternity, it takes on a different perspective.
Second Corinthians 4:17 puts it in perspective: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
I don’t know what conflict or trouble you face today. I imagine for some it feels quite intolerable. I understand — I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to count down the hours until the day is over.
But now, on the other side of some of those conflicts, I can see how God brought good. I can find meaning in what just seemed pointless and horrible. It doesn’t mean there aren’t scars; even Jesus had scars. And yet His resurrection is the greatest promise of resolution … the greatest ending of the greatest story … ever told. And the best part is, it’s true!
Lord, thank You for the promise of Jesus’ resurrection. What hope it brings my current situation to know there’s no conflict so difficult, no moment so dark, no situation so hopeless that You can’t bring good out of it. Today I choose to trust You rather than rely on only what I can see. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
1 Peter 5:10, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
As you look back on a conflict in your life, what good has God brought out of it? (Remember, that good can include a change in you or someone else!) Share your thoughts in the comments!
© 2018 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.