The holiday season is generally a time when we expect to feel something a little warmer, a little happier, and little more hopeful than what we have in the previous months of the year. But in any given year, the experience seems to fall short of the expectations. We allow our anticipation to build, as we drudge through the doldrums and difficulties of the rest of the year, trying to keep our eyes on the prize of finally finding peace, joy, and love.
But problems are no respecter of expectations. They still come. There is still sickness, still financial troubles, still loneliness, and still brokenness. The holiday, in of itself, cannot make us whole or prepare us adequately for the new year coming our way. Suicide rates, overdoses, recklessness that ends in tragedy happen more often in the midst of the Christmas season and into the gray winter months that follow than in any other time of the year.
Compound this vicious cycle with the charged challenges of a year like 2020, and we’re likely to see such numbers exponentially increase. And you might prove to be a casualty… if you’re not prepared.
Peace, for example, is not something to take for granted. Jesus promises peace to His followers in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulations. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (ESV).
Whether or not you have peace in your heart matters to God. So much so, in fact, that Jesus, Who the prophecies name the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), came from heaven to earth, encasing His holiness in the fragile frame of a human child, so that He would grow up to become a perfect sacrifice for us (Ephesians 2:14-16). Through Him, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1), and the empowerment by His Holy Spirit to experience His peace in our hearts.
In other words, it is God’s will that you and I place our complete faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior and entrust our lives, our pasts, and our futures into His perfectly wise and loving care. We experience His peace, in part, as a matter of choice when we choose to trust Him, choose to follow Him, and choose to obey His Word.
Many Christians do not experience His peace as a matter of daily living. All Christians at some point are tempted to trust their own wisdom, their own strengths, their own hearts over God’s Word and then reap a harvest of anxiety, angst, and frustration, leading to paths of despair. Peace is not native to our fallen, mortal nature, but is the third fruit referred to as emanating from God’s Holy Spirit as He works out in us the very life of God Himself (see Galatians 5:22).
This means that while you may not be experiencing His peace at this point in your life, you are invited to. But you must do so on God’s terms. God’s peace cannot be found in one that is not connected to God. It will not grow in you if the branch of your life is not connected to the vine of Jesus (John 15:1-5). Nor can it be granted to a person who is not yet at peace with God through the forgiveness of Jesus’ sacrifice.
You are invited to know His peace. You are invited to know Him, the Prince of Peace. You are invited to lay down your cares for the present, regrets of the past, and fears for the future and live as a forgiven, born-again child of God. You are invited to come to Him and become an heir to His promises of peace, hope, joy, and love. To do so, you must turn your back on serving your own way, continuing in your own sin, and following your own will. You must let go and must embrace Him. You must allow yourself to be freed from such shackles and chains and be turned loose to follow Him as Savior and Lord.
You can have peace for this holiday season… if you’ll turn wholly to God. You can have peace for the upcoming year… if you’ll trust wholly in Him. You can know that God goes before you to prepare the way. All you need to do is listen to Him, trust Him, and obey Him. Are you ready to experience true peace?
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed are the work of the author.)