Oh, Christmas, where have you been? This year has been rough. We need the refocus, enjoyment, and hope you tend to bring. And if you don’t mind slowing it down a little, that would be great. We aren’t in a rush to pass you by.
But, as much as I love Christmas with the lights, the decorations, the gift giving, the scrumptious food, the chilly weather, spending time with family; I know that Christmas is not what will truly bring hope, peace, and joy. It does remind me of it, though. As a result, I never want it to end.
This year, I want to press into a theme of peace and joy during this Christmas season. Two characteristics that seem to drastically be lacking in 2020. Perhaps they are words that sound foreign to the soil of your soul. But you are thirsty for them. Most of us are. And that is why there is hope in the pursuit of peace and joy. So let’s dive in.
How would you describe peace?
Take a moment and think about it.
Really, pause and think of peace.
What came to mind? What was your experience in the pause? Was it a calmness and quieting of the spirit? Did you struggle with being still and patient even for a few moments to think about peace? Was your heart pricked with emotion because you haven’t paused before now to let it come to the surface?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines peace as:
“1: a state of tranquility or quiet…(such as) a: freedom from civil disturbance…b: A state of security or order within a community provided by law or custom…2: Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions…3: Harmony in personal relations.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peace)
Leading up to Christmas, we will look at each of these definitions, as well as how we see them in Scripture. But for now, can we start with the obvious – where is peace? Look around our world and the events of this year and it is easy to question the existence of peace. Uncertainty, fear, friction, devastation, heartache, expectation, and so much unknown have marked the year.
Based on the definition of peace, it cannot be found in circumstances and events. It never is. Yet, we continuously seek to change circumstances, somehow believing that peace will come. This happens on both a large and small scale. Large in the sense of participating in happenings that have an impact globally or in a group. Small in the way of the day-to-day wanting people, places, and things to cooperate and the day go smoothly. (I will talk about this a little more when we look at peace and anxiety.)
Jesus points to Himself as being the One who provides peace and is the source of peace. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He acknowledges the unrest that the disciples are about to face. He knows it is difficult to live in this world. He gives the reason we can have peace, though: He has overcome the world.
Jesus always has and always will be greater than this world. That includes every circumstance, hardship, sin, and brokenness we encounter. That includes anything that is unknown to us regarding the future, our health, and our country. That includes authority, law, and government. Jesus has overcome. This is a definitive statement. It is not a wish of a future occurrence. He already has.
What does this mean? This means we can find rest and comfort in His power and His ability to provide – even peace. My desire is that we will all become more aware and more understanding of the richness and depths of His peace in the days to come.
For now, let me ask you:
Have you ever felt or known peace?
When was the last time you felt peaceful?
When was the last time you sat with Jesus in quietness and received His peace?
I encourage you to reflect on these questions today and consider pausing at some point in the busyness of the day to sit with Jesus (even if you have to sit alone in your car for a few minutes between errands). I will seek to do the same.