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March 2, 2022 | By Jay Ashbaucher

The above title is part of a quote from Jesus. He was speaking about nations rising up against nations in the context of discussing the end of this present age. Besides the amazing accuracy of biblical prophecies, another thing that makes me believe the trustworthiness of the Bible and Jesus is the accuracy of their assessment of human nature. We are a corrupted and conflict laden human race. The Bible asks the question, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you” (James 4:1)? It then answers its own question by saying that the source of conflicts involves jealousy, being envious, selfish ambitions, wrong motives, wanting things we don’t have, and wanting the wrong things. So we fight and quarrel. It’s not like humans don’t want peace or lack peacemakers. A former king of Israel once said, “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:7). Wars do not occur only between nations. There are conflicts at all levels of life. Conflicts occur in our daily relationships, whether it’s friendships we try to establish, marriages, parents and children, workplaces, communities, churches, or kids playing on the school playgrounds; conflicts even take place within ourselves.

My wife and I recently attended a marriage seminar. Yes, after 53 years of marriage, we are still interested in getting better for each other and for the people around us, plus, we went to offer support for others who were attending the seminar. We learned that many conflicts in relationships come from unresolved traumatic experiences in our past. The results of those experiences are buried deep within us and come out as offensive personalities or negative behaviors. We may not like the way we are, we may wonder why are we the way we are, and we find we can’t seem to change the way we are. For example, well into my adult life, I was unable to tell my mother that I loved her. I rejected any love my mother tried to show me. One day, I became aware of an experience that went back to my early teens. Lying in bed one night, I heard my mom and dad talking and I sensed something was wrong. I felt sad. Next day, my mom told me that she did not love dad any more. That statement deeply hurt me and from that time, whenever mom wanted to hug me, I would pull away and reject her love. Years later, as I thought about why I rejected my mother, it dawned on me that I was angry at her for not loving my dad. I also realized that when she tried to love me, I rejected her because I did not want to take the place of my dad. She should be loving dad. When an impactful negative experience happens in a kid’s life, kids are not often able to process their feelings or readily understand why they do what they do. But well into my adult life, I did not like the fact that I could not tell my mother that I loved her. But as I came to realize what had happened and why I was that way, just being aware of it gave me the freedom to choose to do something about it. I just needed to figure out what I needed to do. Being a follower of Jesus and wanting to do what he wanted me to do, I realized that he would want me to forgive her. My parents are now deceased and I am glad that I was able to forgive my mother. Although it wasn’t easy at first, with practice, it became easier for me to sincerely say to her, “I love you mom.” I was no longer at war and in conflict with my mother.

There are many things that happen to us as we are growing up that help explain who we are. At the seminar, this was one of the teachings that helped many couples to see what might be causing some of the ways and whys they were in conflict with each other. We don’t forget those things, they get buried deep inside, and they cause us to form beliefs and react in ways that affect our personalities and behaviors. When I first started school, my mother dressed me in short pants. The kids at the bus stop laughed at me. The next day I refused to wear shorts, and well into my adult life, I never wore shorts in public. People may not purposely want to hurt others, but some experiences can be traumatic to some, which are not to others. They affect our behaviors until we sort them out and rearrange our beliefs about those things and decide to work at overcoming them. Not being in conflict with ourselves or with others may be as simple as reviewing and understanding the traumatic experiences of our past, and having help, if need be, to figure out how we need to think differently and respond differently. Not that we will be rid of certain feelings or behaviors all at once, but at least, becoming aware will help us know what we need to work on to grow into a healthier person.

Unfortunately, we seem to most easily remember the bad things that happen to us. If they are traumatic to us, they sink deeply into our souls. One of the sources of conflict I mentioned in the first paragraph of this article is that we are in conflict because of wanting the wrong things. What that means is that there is more to a good and happy life than things this world offers us. Beyond what this world offers us are things God offers us. We must work at seeing the good that happens in our lives, not just the bad. I will always be grateful to my mother because it was she who introduced me to Jesus and his gift of eternal life. One night, at the age of 11 or 12, I was sobbing uncontrollably with a feeling of panic. I did not want to die and I knew that one day I would. My mother came into the room and asked what was wrong. I sobbed to her that I did not want to die. She quoted to me the words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life, the one who believes in me will live, even if he or she dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? Could it be true that there was a way out of death? It was the best good news a person in my state of fear could have heard. I trusted what Jesus said, putting my faith in him to save me. A song called Amazing Grace has become one of my favorite songs, especially these words: “It was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” I will forever be indebted to God’s grace in my life and to my mother for sharing with me this truth that she had learned.

The Bible and Jesus not only help us know our true human condition of being in some kind of war or conflict with God, with others, and within ourselves, but the Bible and Jesus, and other people God uses, can also help us know the way out—the way of God’s peace and goodness. The new life that Jesus gives a believer offers a faith that is worth trusting, the hope of a fabulous future that is certain, not just wishful thinking, and the love from God that lets us know we are loved and accepted, no matter what bad experiences we’ve encounter in this life. Yes, there will always be wars and rumors of wars in this world, but as Jesus also said, “that is not yet the end”, for a better world is coming, one with no more war.

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