There’s a simple way to go through December in search of more connection with God. It’s called Advent, and this is Article #2 of our four-week series about finding peace. You can find the first week on hope here.
The whole month of December has a way of dealing a death-blow to whatever small amount of peace we’re hanging onto—the search for perfect gifts, the Clark-Griswald-style attempt at lights, or this year—the added stress of spreading a global pandemic with a quick visit to grandma for some gingerbread. Or if you have a grandma like mine, then maybe you go for a Steelers game and some whiskey. But let’s try anyway. Let’s see if God will meet us this week with some new sense of the peace He wants to give to you.
Start by doing this:
- Light two candles: one for hope (last week) and now one for peace.
- Take a deep breath.
- Consider this question in silence for 30 seconds: Where do you feel a lack of peace right now?
Asking for more peace right now sounds like searching for a parking place at the mall on December 23—not gonna happen. It seems like the best we can do is close our eyes and remember ‘that one time’ we felt peace this year. I’m guessing it was sometime January/early February.
Sometimes when I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I find myself searching for peace by completely checking out. Right in the middle of something important, I’ll just randomly open a new tab on my browser and read an article I bookmarked or look for a Christmas gift on Amazon. I think sometimes that’s my way of saying, “circuits are on overload. I need to shut down and reboot.” Even if I successfully distract myself or blow off steam, those 10 minutes never deliver any greater sense of real peace.
Our way to peace actually opened up with the birth of Jesus on the first Christmas. The angels who announced it said so:
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14
The question is, who are these lucky people on whom the favor of God rests? It sounds like peace might only be for a special few?! Actually, no. The “peace” announced at the first Christmas is a unique peace that only the Messiah Himself can offer, but it’s for anyone who will take it. Jesus explicitly said that he could and would give peace, but also the way he’d give it to us wouldn’t be through the circumstances around us.
“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.” John 14:27
Through His life on earth, Jesus would often tell people he’d just healed or helped to “go in peace.” It wasn’t just His preacher-way of saying good-bye. It was an acknowledgment that something in what had just gone down between them had given this person the chance to walk away in peace. Jesus seemed to prioritize this peace even over the physical healings he did—as though fixing their circumstances wasn’t the big deal. Somehow more important was the fact that they were now in harmony with God.
So what was it that got them there, exactly? You can see it in one of my favorite stories about a woman He healed from 12 years of bleeding (whole story in Mark 5:24-34) when Jesus said to her: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Her faith was the catalyst for her healing and peace. Her faith led to peace. Her peace ended her suffering. The kind of peace Jesus gives only comes when we respond, move, act, risk something on Him in a move of faith that shows we believe He’s really the Savior. Jesus hands out peace to people who see who He is and come to him in faith.
The people who saw Jesus like this didn’t just think nice thoughts about him. They stood up, called out, raised their hand, pushed through the crowd, cried at his feet, recognized his authority, asked for forgiveness. And they walked away with peace because of it. These are the people “on whom his favor rests”—and it could easily be you too.
What would it look like to come to Jesus in faith right now, whatever circumstances you face? What if you made a bold move to say to him somehow, “I know who you are, and I’ve come for YOU—the only one who can save me.”
This happened to me a few weeks ago when I was working on something really important to me. I was anxious because I could easily see the vision, talent, and money I needed to move forward, and I didn’t have any of it. I felt overwhelmed and found myself constantly spinning around the thought that I couldn’t do it.
And then came the moment (that I believe was set up by God) I needed in order to unwrap peace. I hit a wall. No way forward. Not just anxious but at a complete standstill. I cried. I yelled at my husband (obviously the only helpful thing to do at that point). And then I heard what I said through my tears: “I don’t believe in myself anymore.” Bingo. That moment was what I needed to come to him, to acknowledge that it was HIM I needed. It was His resources, strength, love, help, and saving that I needed. And somehow, when I gave up on me and went to Him, peace came rolling in.
We all want peace. But most of the time we want peace as the world gives it: the peace of better life-circumstances, the peace of a smooth project or marriage, the peace that really just adds up to our health, safety, comfort, and happiness. But Jesus said he doesn’t give peace that way. He gives it to the ones who risk anything to just walk up to Him right in the middle of their pain and ask. And He gives it to those who do it like a kid—humble, wide-eyed, maybe even hesitant or through tears. Jesus gives peace to those who come to the point they truly believe HE is the answer to what they are looking for.
If that’s you and you want to, then this week, pray this prayer:
Lord, I want real peace. I wish some of the stuff I’m facing wasn’t that way, but I want your peace in the middle of it. I believe you can save me not just from this but from all my sin as well. So, Jesus, I’m asking you for your help with ________. Let your peace come to me in a brand new way as I believe that you’re the Savior. I put my complete trust in you. I know you’re on it. Amen.