By Liz Harden, Leeds Vineyard

The other day scrolling through social media, my interest was piqued by a piece about a mother whale birthing her newborn. The sharks were ready to attack, but some dolphins in the area came to rescue and help the whale in her distress. The dolphins formed a circle around her in a protective circle to prevent the sharks from attacking her and the calf in their vulnerable moment.

This observation resonated deeply with me and so as I prayed about it and held it before God. I was reminded that with new birth there is always pain and vulnerability. Sometimes the work of the Holy Spirit within us and others can be painful and uncertain. In these seasons we are vulnerable as character growth is forged, unhealthy things are pruned, and God works in us for the softening of our hearts making us more like him.

God’s work is sometimes through seasons of conflict and confusion. When we commit to do the work of reconciliation and deeper understanding of each other – which can be painful and difficult – on the other side of travail is a depth of greater strength of relationship, understanding, and a new sense of purpose to why the relationship is so important.

Proverbs 27:17 states: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one sharpens another.’ When you observe the ironsmith working this process, it is hot, abrasive, clanky and uncomfortable. As Christians we often want to avoid the discomfort and pain of conflict. However, when we commit to the work of restoration and reconciliation, God births in us a likeness of him that cannot be imitated or falsely projected. It is the authentic and genuine character of God that is revealed in us

It is a strange metaphor to think of conflict as giving birth to new things and, in particular, to a whale calving in the ocean. However, when two people are going through the pain of conflict (both mother and calf suffer discomfort and pain in the birthing process) there are sharks and dolphins. The sharks see opportunity to press their agenda and feed off others pain and distress. While the dolphins see an opportunity to form a protective cover around the pain and struggle while the birthing is done

As I look back over my own life, I can see the sharks and the dolphins. I have learned to discern, those who see my struggle as an opportunity to press their ambition through divisiveness. But also, I have had the privilege to see those who in their faithfulness have surrounded me with protective prayers while God does his work in me and others.

Proverbs 17:9 NIV ‘Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.’

So today let’s take a look at those we know who are going through the pain of conflict and let’s foster love for both sides while God does his work. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight who needs us to act as dolphins to form a protective barrier from the enemy through prayer, encouragement, and support to draw closer with understanding, forgiveness, love, and reconciliation.