Little Times of Trouble

This week’s commentary comes from Good Word out of the School of Theology at Walla Walla University. The audio of this conversation can be found on the Good Word website here.

Host: David Thomas Guests: Brant Berglin and Jenniffer Ogden

Texts for the Week: Matt. 7:5; Eph. 1:7; Phil. 2:4–8; Eph. 4:26, 27; James 1:19, 20; Col. 3:19; Matt. 7:12

Memory Text: “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph 4:26, NKJV.)

Opening Question: What do we do when conflict comes home?

The lesson this week delves into the reality that we all live with on this planet where everything is broken, that sometimes we experience conflict even at home. Conflict can come for any number of reasons – over finances, over disagreements due to parenting, to different opinion on how religion should be practiced, and the list goes on. Sometimes the conflict is mild but at other times it can be quite intense as would be the case where there is abuse of some kind going on in a home. Conflicts over religion can also be very intense. So what is a person to do when these occasions of trouble come along?

One of the first things to keep in mind is that, because we are imperfect and because we live in an imperfect world, the appearance of trouble should not be a surprise. What is in mind here is the expectations you have about life. Realistically, we should be prepared to have to deal with conflict because it is endemic to life on this earth. We are not perfect, and the members who end up making our families, are not perfect either. Being realistic about the probability of conflict is a very good beginning place.

A second thing to keep in mind is that it is seldom a good thing to keep running away from conflict. Certainly, the prospect of conflict is usually unpleasant, even unnerving, and we instinctively want to avoid it but facing the conflict is usually the best way toward its resolution. Facing the conflict and finding a way through it is what opens the door to a new level of equilibrium in a relationship.

When facing and dealing with conflict, it is a very good idea to remember that conflict is best managed when tensions are low. Once conflict escalates, the prospects of issues being properly dealt with goes way down. Finding a way to handle issues when conflict levels are low is often more an art than a science. Sometimes it is necessary to enlist the help of a third party to facilitate the discussion.

One element involved in conflict that should be carefully discussed is the issue of anger. Anger is a very powerful emotion that can easily get out of control. Because of that, it is a dangerous emotion. At the same time, anger does serve a legitimate and valuable purpose in life. For one thing, it is what gives us the gumption to deal with wrong. Ephesians 4:26 and 27 have some interesting things to say about anger not the least of which is that it is possible to be angry without sinning! Further, there is something called “righteous indignation,” a proper anger that is directed toward righting wrong and injustice. When thinking about this, two major points prevail, first, that getting angry involves a choice. The person getting angry chooses to get angry so is responsible for their anger. Just keeping that little fact in mind oftentimes mitigates the anger. It is not true that others make us angry. It is rather, that we chose to exhibit anger in response to what others may have done. Secondly, good anger is almost never focused on self. Good anger is not used to serve the interests of self but rather of right and good.

One other item – a very sad one – needs to be discussed here and that is the sad fact that in some relationships, in some homes, there is abuse. Sometimes, one partner or the other chooses to exercise dominance to the point they mistreat others even to the point of being violent. We all need to recognize that this kind of thing is not only unacceptable. It is intolerable! It is totally inimical to Christian life and behavior. As the official lesson so ably stated, “a healthy relationship is one in which both partners feel protected and safe, in which anger is managed in a healthy way, and in which serving one another is the norm.”

One final item warrants a bit of time, the matter of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the process of burying offenses to the point they no longer affect relationships and doing so not so much for personal peace but because we ourselves have been forgiven. Further, forgiveness is something that is offered to another person in the face of offense. It is while the offense is hot in our minds that the need to forgive arises. And, partly because forgiveness is not conditioned by what preceded it, it is a very powerful thing indeed. It can erase, in a matter of moments, the hostilities of many years. One of the things we should expect to do is offer forgiveness to family members for, in the dynamic of life on this planet, there will be many opportunities to do so.

We close with a wonderful but challenging verse – Romans 12:10 (NIV): Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

David Thomas is Professor of Practical Theology & Apologetics. He has been a member of the faculty at WWU since the summer of 2001. He served as Dean of the School of Theology for seventeen years (2001-2018). He is now focused on full-time teaching and writing.

Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Good Comments David,
Greek Philosophy, and Philo, at the time of Christ did not allow God to be angry. Paul when talking of God’s righteous wrath flew in the face of contemporary thought. Anger is a legitimate expression against wrong.
Forgiveness and honest conversation requires honesty…not drama queens.

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I find it interesting that the authors of this week’s SS lesson categorize ‘physical, verbal, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse" (p.84) as a component of the lesson’s title emphasis, "Little Times of Trouble’. This would suggest to me that they don’t know anything about abuse. Anyone I know who has experienced abuse would not categorize such as a ‘little time of trouble’. More likely, it’s earth-shattering.

Abusers terrorize their victims, often spouses or children. For the authors to further suggest that “The good news is that the Bible offers comfort, not guilt for the victims of abuse.” shows they are totally clueless about how abusers blame their victims, in highly convincing ways. Oh, and their final rejoinder on page 84, “In some situations, in which the problem becomes unmanageable, people should not be afraid to seek outside help.”, is the icing on the cake…I’d like to know just how they think abuse can be ‘managed’.


The line suggest a little time it does not mean a sight amount of trouble., it is not just a fly in the ointment. The Jewish saying “This Too shall pass” covers both good times and bad.

Physical abuse should have 0 tolerance!


Abuse is systemic…it does not ‘pass’. Abusers do not just abuse for a little while. At least, not without the conversion of the Holy Spirit.


Two salient factors to consider. First, one must forgive the offense and second, more importantly, one must be wary about the offender/perpetrator as forgiveness does not change personality traits. If overlooked, this is what leads to abuse. At no time should anyone allow themselves to be exposed to continued abuse that requires perpetual forgiveness. Otherwise we of the Nutcracker Institute of Behavioral Health would be available for further consultation.

@GeorgeTichy @cincerity @pattigrant


You miss my point. The emphasis is not on the amount of trouble but the shortness of the interval. The point to hang in there. Confidence in the knowledge of Grace,

I believe I do in fact understand your point, which sadly, generally reflects the views of folks who have never been involved in an abusive situation. ‘Hanging in there’ is not an acceptable strategy for dealing with abuse.

If, on the other hand, you were referring to the overall aspect of simply having difficulties from time to time in one’s life, then of course you are right.


Various “troubles” that come along in life in the various realms that
affect us do cause us to marshal our thinking and explore ways to
solve them, or ways to do OTHER things and work around them.
Sudden loss of a vehicle because it is in the shop. Sudden illness
that may keep us away from the job for maybe 3 weeks while we
get well. Or have a surgery that prevents us from driving for 3 weeks.
Gallbladder, Triple By-Pass, others cannot always be scheduled on
the calendar. [I know]. A sudden neurological difficulty. Broken bone.
Some issues impact us financially as well.
Home burns down while at work. So all one has is the car, and the clothes
one wore to work in the middle of January and 2 baking dishes.

However, interpersonal difficulties within the family are different and may
REQUIRE the assistance of trained persons to help us, and to assist with
making the decisions we NEED to make, sometimes for our own Personal
Protection. Pastors are NOT usually the ones that are capable of providing
help. Most are NOT trained and sometimes can make the situations worse.


Some of this simply sounds like religious jargon to me. What people do to others and to ourselves can cause us to get angry. It is sometimes hardly a conscious choice, pressing buttons and triggering memories and subconscious associations in us that we are often not aware of.

This also doesn’t address the idea that anger is often a secondary emotion, occurring in response to fear, disrespect, being discounted, etc. The emotion in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It just is. To deny anger or call it sinful because it is a response to something done to ourselves in contrast with “good” righteous indignation for the injustice done to others, is simply a religious form of denial… and psychologically damaging. Feeling anger for being badly treated or harmed is not wrong. It’s just human. It’s what we do with it that counts. Whether we blindly and destructively act out on it, or channel it into constructive action and response.




Welcome back…


I dont know why we have to dance around in piety about anger. People do bad things. Simply name it and temper our responses as indicated.
What is evil to me is to ignore legitimate anger like a naive choir boy. Philosophy attempted to emasculate God by saying God can not be angry.


Advindicate addresses this Sabbath School Lesson. It is also a good
read. Might want to compare the two different authors’ take on this subject
as presented by the S.S. lesson.

Right on! I put this part in BOLD because it needs EMPHASIS!!

“I, ____, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

Heads up…how worse should it get??

Gender conflict:
Go back to the FALL. Eve became a dominating control freak agent of Satan to cause Adam’s fall.
Adam became an unfaithful pervert by choosing and siding with a female spouse over loyalty to God.

How many , when advised…"Are you sure’? before marrying, think…“Oh, He/She can/will change.”

And after the lust & infatuation wear off realize that they are married to a ball & chain?

Solomon shed some light on being associated with a jealous controlling suspicious, paranoid, vindictive shrew. and also the lust controlled selfish male pervert.

Are a few Sabbath school lessons taught by teachers who present , non analytical, shallow bible tidbits going to impact any sicko marriages?

Online, I listen to Christian females who married atheists. Sometimes the atheists are wiser than the immature fanatic wives.

Then you have Christian males who married vain, appearance obsessed, proud churchgoing wives who are so spiritually immature that the marriage greatly lacks intimacy & communication.

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Sooooo since we CAN’T be perfect according to ANTI-LGT promoters…does that mean that at translation or 2nd resurrection GOD/JESUS will change our characters so that conflict will be absent in heaven, new earth, New Jerusalem? If He is not willing that any should perish…why not let him wave His magic wand and PERFECT everyone?

Abuse involves verbal as well as physical.

Ever thought about how SDA pastors and SS teachers verbally abuse by laying unfair guilt trips on members by nagging them to share the gospel, 3 angel’s messages, telling them they are lukewarm Laodiceans, need to totally surrender…when the pastors & teachers don’t share and are themselves Laodiceans and have not totally surrendered? Could this nagging be contagious?

How much nagging, critical verbal abuse is a spouse supposed to take before they throw a pillow at their mate…to put it mildly?

BTW…it is fairly common knowledge that fear generates a controlling personality.

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My sentiments exactly.

What does that mean?
If a female spouse slaps her husband once , she gets the death penalty?

I see 4 likes on your post. Anyone like to input on the draconian approach?

So much culture contamination and fanatic drama is going into the discussion.

Physical abuse is obvious when you see it. Not normal spanking of a child or “normal” contacts.
When someone is bruised, eyes puffy etc. Physical excess is obvious.

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