(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Peace on Earth…Throughout the Year
By Michelle Schonken
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
– John 14:27 (NASB)
The Christmas season is one of the loveliest times of the year. Nothing beats curling up on the couch for a Christmas movie with a mug of hot chocolate. It is a special time when we think about the many blessings we have and show others how much we love them.
As much as I look forward to those wonderful things, I must admit that Christmas is also a stressful time for me. Christmas time brings with it a plethora of expectations. We have to run around to all the parties of our friends and neighbors, find the perfect gifts for everyone on our list, bring edible home made food dishes to the potluck gatherings, and somehow do all of this on a tight budget. Are you exhausted yet?
On top of being busy during the Christmas season, this is also the time when I’m reminded of how turbulent family dynamics can be. Each year I stress about possible tension between relatives, and hurt feelings among loved ones. There is so much potential for strife that looking forward to Christmas is not easy.
Here’s the thing, though, this Christmas is different. Why, you might ask? Well, I can assure you that it isn’t because I’m not busy! Rather, it is because of a really great sermon I heard. I can’t do the sermon justice, but it was on the greatest gift that Jesus gave us by being born in a manger: Peace between God and man. Once we have His peace, we can have peace with ourselves and each other. In Philippians 4:7, Paul tells us, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NASV). We can have God’s peace within, even when faced with difficult circumstances and it doesn’t have to make sense to us. There can be trials and hardships, but people would be able to see that you are “somehow” at peace in the midst of it all.
Taking some time to digest the concept of God’s peace, I realized how absent it was from my Christmas preparations in the past. I was constantly aware that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” but my anxiety about how to fulfill all the Christmas expectations (invented by myself and other people) was overwhelming me every year. But that is not what God wants for me! His peace is that calm surety that He has everything under control, that nothing surprises Him, and that He is at work in and around us. What a relief! What an amazing anchor!
But when the Christmas season passes, what then? As desperately as I need God’s peace during the crazy times of the holidays, I realize that I need that every day of the year too. This year I really want to keep asking God for His peace within me each day. I’ve lived for years under the terrible misconception that if I’m not stressed or anxious about something or another, I must be forgetting something. But, I don’t want to live that way anymore, and, because of God’s peace, I don’t have to.
What about you? As I embrace God’s gift of peace this season, I hope that you will also carry Christmas’s “peace on earth” into the new year.