In the book of Esther, we read that the Jews were in the midst of a major crisis. The conflict in question was a scheme that Haman had devised, which would mean the annihilation of the Jews. After Haman’s wicked scheme was found out, he was hanged, but since the decree had been written in the king’s name and sealed with his signet ring, it could not be revoked. The solution that the king proposed to his wife Esther was to write another decree concerning her people, the Jews, permitting them to defend themselves and retaliate against any who would assault them.
This wasn’t just one city of people who feared for their lives; this new decree concerning the Jews was sent out to 127 provinces in all! Then “the Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor.”
They danced on their death decree! The icing on the cake of this story is that “many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them,” (Esther 8:17). Isn’t that cool?! Many were converted because they saw the Jews rejoicing in the midst of their conflict! This all happened before the death decree came to pass. The king had spoken, and that word promised hope.
We, too, have a King who speaks for us and promises us hope in the middle of our conflicts and invites us to dance on the words and circumstances that would threaten to decree hopelessness over our lives. Larry Sparks says it eloquently, that “God loves to break in when it’s just that dark and hopeless.” And that becomes a powerful testimony in our lives—fragrant enough to draw unbelievers to the Lord. “Flavor the fragrance…Gates are formed in the conflict” (Bill Johnson, “Worship in All Seasons”). It becomes our breakthrough. “If [believers] learn to sustain their initiative to seek God by strengthening themselves in testing, they will be the people who will experience the personal breakthroughs that release a corporate blessing to those around them,” (Johnson, 28, Strengthen Yourself).
I used to avoid conflict and confrontation, and where it is advisable to not seek after it, neither is it prudent to ignore it. Jesus stepped into the middle of the mess, and He invites us to do likewise: to be the ones to not fear the messes of the world but to step in and offer a heavenly solution. This is what Jesus did for the blind man, as recorded in John 9: He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay…he went and washed, and came back seeing. John 9:6-7.
This is counter-cultural in our world of antibacterials, hand sanitizers, and medical grade masks. This is not the status quo saline solution. Are we willing to step into the muddy situations in our spheres and partner with Heaven’s agenda?
Cindi McMenamin, in her article Ten Smart Ways to Respond When You’re Offended, writes that “A spirit-controlled person is not one to give in to the spirit of offense.” It echoes David’s verse in Proverbs 19:11, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
McMenamin has a practical go-to list to adhere to when wrestling with conflict:
- Respond maturely; don’t react emotionally.
- Realize there is always more to the story.
- Retain a sense of humor.
- Refrain from acting impulsively. (James 1:19)
- Resist the urge to defend yourself.
- Rely on God to protect your name.
- Remain hidden. (Colossians 1:1-3)
- Remember it’s not all about you. (Galatians 2:20)
- Reflect on any seed of truth.
- Return the offense with a compliment. (Luke 6:27-36)
“Don’t hold their transgressions against them,” Luke 23:34