How to Find Biblical Joy When You Face Family Conflict

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

Some of the hardest and most complicated relationships can be present within the family unit. Unlike other relationships that often come in and out of our lives or are there only for a season, our family members are people we will be connected to for our entire lives. When conflict or a broken relationship happens, it can be devastating, confusing, and incredibly hurtful. Even if you choose to walk away, the connection that is there cannot be erased, and it affects you in a way that no other relationship can. God put us in the family that we are in and has a plan for us. The family unit is important to him and can be used in a powerful way to point others to him. 

Verses to Help You When You Face Family Conflict

Isaiah 53:5 "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." 

Isaiah 53:5 tells us how God has given the ultimate provision for us when our heart is broken by family conflict or broken family relationships. There is almost nothing quite as painful or complex as the kind of struggles within a family – the people we are forever connected to. It's always good to remember that he was crucified because of our sin, especially amidst family conflict. Because of his suffering, we can be healed and have peace. Remembering all that is available to us because of Jesus' death on the cross, all that has been done for us, and how much grace we have been shown is vital. We can imitate Christ by viewing others through eyes of grace and extending to them the same grace we have been shown. 

Mark 11:2 "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you're your transgressions." 

Even if a family member has sinned against us and hasn't been able to admit it, it is crucial that we process through all that has happened and eventually come to the point where we can forgive them, even if they don't ask for forgiveness. That can be very difficult, but it is so important for us to do so that we can be freed up to grow, move forward, heal, and serve God effectively. We must do our part to pursue peace and not allow bitterness to enter our hearts. 

Romans 12:18 "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." 

We can ask God to show us what he wants us to do to seek peace in our family relationships. He will give guidance. I went to a dear friend for counsel while going through an exceedingly difficult season with some family members. As much as I had tried to reach out and get the conflict cleared up, things just did not get any better. I found myself feeling guilty all the time because there was no peace. When I shared what I was experiencing with my friend, she comforted me with this simple truth: "Just because you do all you can to live peaceably does not mean there will be peace. You are called to do what you can do. But that does not mean the other person will cooperate!" This freed me up! It was not all up to me. I was asking God to show me what my part was. I had to leave the rest in his hands. 

What Good Comes When You Face Family Conflict

two women sitting on couch with crossed arms looking upset and angry, how to forgive when you dont feel forgiving

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Antonio Guillem
  • Experiencing family conflict can help us learn what it means to bear with others in love (Ephesians 4) and not to become easily offended (1 Corinthians 13). Seeking to work through conflict shows that the person is worth fighting for. It can strengthen the relationship eventually.
  • Experiencing family conflict can be used to help us get to know our family members better. As we learn the reasons behind why we respond the way we do, it can help us learn how to be more sensitive to each other.
  • Experiencing family conflict can help us learn how to communicate with each other better. Sometimes it can be hard to take the time to listen, especially to those with which we might have a complicated relationship. When we show that we care enough to take the time to communicate honestly, and we can hear what is being shared, it shows that they are valuable to us. 

Find Biblical Joy By Focusing on God 

Thank Him for Who He Is:

Father, thank you for being Wonderful Counselor – the incomprehensible counselor. I cannot completely understand your ways or how you work in this world or my life, but I trust you. I know you have our best interest in mind and want to work through and in us. As I pray over the complicated relationships in my life, I pray that you would work in my heart so that I might know how you want me to reach out and pursue peace.

Thank Him for His Faithfulness:

Father, thank you for being faithful. Your Word tells me you are faithful, and I have experienced your faithfulness in my life. I thank you, in advance, for how you will show yourself faithfully in my difficult family relationships. Please work in the hearts of those involved in the conflict, including my own heart.

Thank Him for His Promises:

Father, thank you for your promises that you will make all things new (Revelation 21:5) and that in heaven, we will all worship you together as one if we are your children. I cling to those promises now and know that if my difficult family relationships are not fixed here on this earth, I will see them made perfect in heaven if we are a part of your family. 

Thank Him for His Provisions:

Father, thank you for the people you have brought into my life for me to seek counsel from and for your Word that gives principles for me to follow as I interact with my family and seek to restore our relationship. Please help me hear your voice and how you are leading me in these tough times. Please soften my heart and the heart of my family member so that we can be at peace with each other and bring you glory as we share with others about your faithfulness.

To learn more about how to choose biblical joy, check out my book “Everyday Prayers for Joy”!

For weekly encouragement on how to choose biblical joy in all circumstances, subscribe to “Choose Biblical Joy Today

This article is part of a series by Gina Smith on biblical joy. Here are more of her articles:

How to Find Biblical Joy When You Battle Depression

How to Find Biblical Joy When Your Heart Is Broken

Finding Biblical Joy in Loneliness

How to Find Biblical Joy When Life Doesn’t Look the Way You Thought it Would

How to Find Biblical Joy When the Church Disappoints You

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/PixelsEffect

Gina Smith is a writer and author. She has been married for 34 years to Brian, a college professor, and athletic trainer. For 25+ years she and her husband served on a Christian college campus as the on-campus parents, where Brian was a professor and dean of students. They reside right outside of Washington DC and are the parents of two grown children, one daughter-in-law, and one son-in-law. She recently authored her first traditionally published book Everyday Prayers for Joy, available everywhere books are sold. You can find Gina at the following:, Instagram, , and at Million Praying Moms, where she is a writer. 

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