The Gift of Peace

As I pack away my Christmas tree and finger the ornaments lovingly made or given by my children in the past, my heart longs for them.  Spending Christmas apart from family is one of the most challenging experiences I have faced recently.  Our government edict to limit our interactions to our own household at this time is needful to deal with the pandemic, but it hurts.  

Memories flood my spirit as I work on the tree.  I ponder the days when my home was filled with children laughing and bouncing around with their boundless energy.  Days of board games and doing puzzles, moments of glee playing together in the outdoors, times of relishing Christmas treats together, all are gone this year.  

Yet, in many ways, this peaceful Christmas break is a gift.  With no outside expectations it has been a time for relaxing, recharging, and refocusing.  Instead of running around to various events or spending hours preparing food, I have time to pursue things of more lasting importance.  Quiet time to focus on God’s Word is more available.  More time with my husband is a blessing.  Time to pursue things that bring me joy is able to happen.

Our world is definitely in need of peace.  Society views peace largely as an absence of conflict.  This kind of peace is fleeting as inevitably disruptions occur and peace is disturbed.  True peace is an elusive entity in this world and will continue to be as long as we try to fabricate it ourselves.  

Jesus offers us a different kind of peace.  While His peace doesn’t guarantee us a trouble-free life, it does provide the comfort and strength we need to face whatever challenging circumstances this life brings.  True peace in Christ brings rest to our souls and healing to our hearts as we yield to Him.

Consider Jesus’ words in John 14:

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (verse 27 NIV)

Jesus speaks these words to give comfort to His disciples.  He knows the trials they will face as they watch Him suffer and die.  Jesus knows that they and all believers will face continual conflict trying to spread the Gospel and lead lives of Christian faith.  

In these pandemic days I hold onto these words about not being troubled and afraid.  I need to continually seek God’s comfort and peace in a world full of chaos.  Fear wants to consume me on a regular basis and the only way I can deal with it is to focus on these words of Jesus.  He promises me peace that will last me into eternity.

Too often we seek peace in places or through things that really aren’t helpful.  Thankfully the Holy Spirit keeps nudging us into the right direction.  He reminds us that God is in control and we can rest assured knowing that God’s gift of peace is not a fleeting, for this moment only type of thing.  

Anxiety and worry are rampant in today’s world.  These feelings destroy our peace.  Paul has a great answer to that one – lift up those concerns in prayer.  

In Philippians 4:6-7 he says:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

I can move forward into this new year with the confidence that God hears my prayers and that He is working in my life.  Trust in Him for the gift of peace and the answer to anxiety that only He can provide.