the power of internal conflict

internal conflict is one of the most difficult conflicts to resolve.  the conflict involves no one else but yourself.  it is a conflict of principles you both uphold in your mind and believe in.

when these two principles are headed on a collision course, you are torn inside to make a hard choice.  what you choose either gives you pleasure or shame.  depending on how consequential (historically) you are and the choice you make is, it has the power to make you either famous or infamous.  but for ordinary people, it may just be a matter of receiving approval or being dismayed.

the greatest historical figure — jesus christ — had his moment of internal conflict.  it is recorded in the gospels.  it happened in the garden of gethsemane as jesus contemplated his death.  “Father, all things are possible to you, take this cup from me, yet not what i will, but what you will,” mark 14.36.  jesus had both the right to live and a choice to die. this was the internal conflict he wrestled with.  he chose to die, not because death was a pleasant choice, but because it was his father’s will.  it was his ultimate pleasure to do his father’s will, though it meant giving up his own life.

hours after the above event, a moment of internal conflict — a crucial decision will bring infamy to another man.  pontius pilate’s mind was screwed by his internal conflict — to free jesus who was innocent thus satisfying his noble sense of roman justice, or crucify him to appease the clamor of the jewish mob, satisfying his ignoble political desires.  he chose the latter.  pilate ordered jesus to be crucified.  “wanting to satisfy the crowd… he had jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified,” mark 15.15.  pontius pilate goes down in history as the all-infamous magistrate.

with great power comes great responsibility.

the psalms of the old testament are full of expressions of the internal conflict that the godly man experiences.  a couple of psalms that immediately come to mind are psalm 73 and 42.  there are many other psalms.

in psalm 73 the writer expresses his internal conflict in this manner: why do the wicked (who forget God) prosper and are enriched while those (himself) who fear and serve God suffer and are chastised all day long — is God indeed good to those who fear him?  i envied the arrogant, when i saw the prosperity of the wicked… in vain i have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. all day long i have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments,” psalm 73.3, 13, 14.

the internal conflict of the writer in psalm 42 bears some relation to that of psalm 73.  both of them ask why things do not appear to be happening according to what they believe about God or who they believe God to be — a good and faithful God the those who fear and trust him, and an avenger to those who forget him.  but in psalm 42 the psalmist’s complaint does not stem from the apparent prosperity enjoyed by the wicked, but on God’s apparent inaction to save him, thereby giving his enemies fuel to mock him and his religion (faith in God).  “i say to God my rock, “why have you forgotten me? why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” my bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “where is your God?”” psalm 42.9, 10.

one other passage (not in the psalms) is in habakkuk, where the prophet says, “thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity; wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously?” habakkuk 1.13.  habakkuk’s mind was wrecked by a different kind of internal conflict.  his internal conflict was provoked by seeing events not directly happening to him, but to nations at large.  nonetheless, it was equally difficult to resolve.

in all three instances, the internal conflict is resolved by faith — steadfast, unwavering faith.  faith that believes what God revealed about himself — he is holy, just, faithful, and kind — in spite of appearances toward the contrary.

“i have set the LORD always before me, because he is at my right hand, i shall never be moved,” psalm 16.8.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s