How do we deal with tension in our circles? How do we handle unkind words?
A friend came to me this week seeking advice to mend a conflict with her long time Christian friend. As part of Women’s Ministry (and personal experience), I’m aware of the problems females have. Women can sometimes hurt one another by catty and competitive behavior instead of accepting one another.
We all remember grade school. Secrets, whispers, talebearing. Things left in the dust of history spoken out to recycle pain. The times we put on our judge’s robe and ask “do you remember what she did?”
It happened to me, my daughter, and my granddaughters, who have shared incidents when another girl deliberately wounded them. Then, we wound back . . . or do we wound first?
Decades, centuries . . . beginning in Genesis . . . Sarah and Hagar, down through time.
Sadly, the church is not exempt from tension and conflict. I think of the first century catfight when the Apostle Paul mediated between two squabbling women greatly affecting the unity of the church in Philippi (Phil 4:2). It reads, “I urge Euodia and Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.” The only time they show up in Scripture is recording their dispute. It was important enough for Paul to write it down. It affected the unity in the body of Christ.
Women are relational. I am grateful for my longtime friends since childhood no others could replace, and for quality forever friendships I have with women of faith I’ve met along the way, keeping me from sinking in my adult life.
A friend’s concern and counsel can change our day . . . our lives. Women need women.
As Christian women we desire to know how to respond to conflict biblically, which brings to remembrance the story of Hannah, found in the book of 1Samuel, chapter one.
A gracious peacemaker we can learn from. . . . .
Hannah was married to Elkanah, who had two wives. Her rival Peninnah (the fertile wife), provoked her daily till she wept by flaunting her children before the barren Hannah. She could decide to believe what Peninnah said and respond in bitterness, or cry her heart out to her Father in heaven.
She took the matter to God.
She cried out rather than lashing out.
She was even misunderstood by her temple priest who accused her of being filled with wine as she prayed so fervently, so silently. Her response, “No, I am a woman oppressed in spirit, I have poured out my soul to the Lord”. . . . . (1:15) Eli then blessed her.
Love spreads its mantle over those who choose God’s ways, and Hannah birthed a prophet! Samuel, the son dedicated and offered to the good care of God.
Our words can be a blessing or a landmine.
Is God allowing a Peninnah into your life? Burst into prayer instead of anger, for He may be ready to birth something in you!
There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18