Turmoil & Peace
Prepare for Conflict – Lesson 10 of the “Overcome” Christian Recovery Bible Study
Focusing on the circumstances of our situations, we can become unsure of our environments and insecure in our identity. Most of the time, this feeling begins in our early childhood and grows… and grows… and grows into an uncontrollable storm. And eventually we are as if a tiny boat on a stormy sea. Tossed back and forth from the crashing waves. Being ready for a disaster and prepared for an emergency can be the difference between life or death during floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. Shouldn’t we also apply that same level of immediacy with our spiritual selves? Follow along to find encouragement for the journey in this lesson of the “Overcome” Christian recovery Bible study.
Throughout this journey of leading groups, I have come upon the conclusion there are two camps of individuals; those who have committed to their recovery and those who have not. This lesson is for the first group: the ones that have committed to the journey. And a call to be aware of the costs that are involved. A level of consideration and appreciation of the cost and resulting conflict is required for successful commitment. Jesus even referred to the need for this awareness of the cost:
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?Luke 14:28
The Overcome course was essentially built around the anchor verse of scripture we cover in this post, for the reason of what I experienced during my own recovery. The fact that even though I was committed to following Jesus and pursuing recovery, I had not taken into consideration an important fact: life is full of turmoil, and that turmoil has the tendency to steal your perspective, hope and joy.
I do not have to prod very much to get you to think about the biggest source of your turmoil. It can range from recovery itself and making it through one day at a time, to the rebuilding of a broken relationship, finding employment, or finding a place to live. Whatever it is, keep it in mind as we progress through this lesson. Because knowing helps you prepare for it.
Most of the turmoil we face is due to lack of preparation. Preparation in this respect begins with the acknowledgement that we are a conflicted species. The history of our existence is messy to say the least. Our existence is defined by how we respond to these conflicts which reveal our beliefs and character. Conflicts are trials and processes that either bring us closer to God or drive us away from Him. One of the most critical means of having perspective in conflict is embodied in the verse below:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 1:6-7
Most of our conflict resides internally. We are pulled in opposite directions between what is right and what is wrong. Between our desires and our wisdom. If you are a disciple, a Christ follower, you will always have internal conflict. The self is its own worst enemy, by making the choice to rebel against proper wisdom and instruction. The key is to think eternally though…
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.Romans 7:15, 18
External conflict is public and relationship based. This person doesn’t get along with this other person. They don’t see eye to eye. Many of the struggles we face coming via this avenue are due to our mishandling of reactions. We must adopt a grander picture of the battlefield and realize these are opportunities for growth:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4
Now that we have covered the easier ones, we must acknowledge the most significant. One that we take for granted at times, because we do not see it with the naked eye. The spiritual or eternal conflict and the value we associate with it. If we indeed believe there is a heaven, and that we are not of this world, then technically that should have a direct impact on how we live. There are forces at play that we don’t see that bear a cosmic connotation to this conflict that encourages us to overlook it, much to our chagrin.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12
The Gravity of the Situation
The last supper takes place in John chapters 13-16. While the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke all give accounts of the last supper, only John gives this level of detail. This was an intimate setting and portrait of Jesus spending His last hours with the disciples. His intent was to prepare them for the difficulties that lie ahead. He had led and taught these men for the past three years. During this account, He washes their feet, calls out Judas for future betrayal, promises the Holy Spirit, alerts them to coming persecution, His own death and resurrection and that He is going to prepare a place for them in heaven.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.John 16:33
Imagine the inner conflict going on in this scene: Jesus knows that Judas is going to betray him and that everyone will scatter and deny him. He knows He is about to die a painful and shameful death. He knows the entire plan of God rests on his obedience, even unto death, for the very ones whose sin will place Him on the cross. As far as literature goes, this is the climax of the story. 66 books of canon and 31,102 verses all pointing to or from this event. This is the culmination of everything that has preceded and will follow.
He acknowledged the gravity of the situation and did not run from it or ignore it. He understood what was at stake not only for the disciples but for all who would follow. You see the effects of this inner turmoil on Him while sweating blood during repeated prayers to “take this cup”. He shows his obedience by uttering “…but Your will be done.” He knew the gravity of what was going on.
For us, we must acknowledge the gravity of our situations. He gave us the example of not giving up and being obedient. He acknowledged the brutal reality of life on this world but offered perspective. For us to stay committed to our spiritual walks and recovery, we must accept this perspective as truth. We stay the course through the turmoil, not running and hiding from it. Family members may not welcome you back with open arms. Friends may never trust you again. Finding a job may be next to impossible. Which is precisely why He ends this verse with “But take heart, I have overcome the world.” We do not rely on our strength or temporary victories, we hold on to His ultimate victory, even when it seems like we have lost yet another battle, He has won the war.
“Overcome” – Christian Recovery Bible Study
Application – Contingency Plan
Whatever conflict you are facing right now, you have two options: run from it and try your best to hide or run to God and His Word. We cannot outrun conflict, but we can seek Him in the midst of it. Be well prepared when the waves start crashing in, not running for sandbags in the middle of a torrential downpour. The best way we can prepare is to acknowledge the turmoil and seek His word on it. Research the word, find a verse or even a single word to hold on to. Claim it as your own. Write it down and put it somewhere you will see it every day and memorize it.
Many have asked me what I held on to during the early stages of recovery. I attribute this question to the nautical term the bitter end. The bitter end is the last link on the chain of an anchor. In popular terms it means the conclusion of a difficult or unpleasant situation. During the time I found my rock bottom I had no support system and was out cast and alienated due to my actions. I wasn’t a Christ follower but knew something had to change. Learning how to live the Christian life while reconciling with no earthly encouragement was one of my most difficult times in life. Everything in me cried out for the old, the familiar. The early stage of recovery is one of the most vital and most memorable times of your journey. The difficult part is knowing what to prepare for and knowing what your anchor is. For me, the bitter end was the verses below. What verses do you hold on to when the conflict comes?
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?Luke 15:4
The “Overcome” Christian Recovery Bible Study is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.
Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Christian Recovery Bible Study series.
We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC. Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship. Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book