Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Peace on earth, goodwill to men! The Prince of Peace is born!
Thinking through the scriptures and looking at some of the things Jesus said about peace, I am doubly encouraged and comforted in this season. Christmas has been quite a struggle for me in the past few years. I can’t tell why, really, but I have found myself struggling with joy. Maybe recollections of my childhood Christmases where everything seemed to be so perfect and joyful affect my enjoyment of current celebrations that are very far from perfect. To be fair to myself, those childhood celebrations were experienced from a child’s perspective; a child who had no bills to pay, and nothing to worry about, other than how much jollof rice I could eat without feeling uncomfortable, or whether or not Mum would let me have another helping of cake! I did not have the back story of what actually went into making the holidays joyful for us kids.
I almost broke down physically last Friday. I felt so tired and my body ached all over. I had done a lot of shopping, driving in heavy traffic and generally preparing for Christmas, such that when it came time to go out for a friend’s birthday party, I couldn’t muster the strength or the joy. I ended up staying home and sending apologies. I was home almost throughout the weekend recovering from the stress. Driving around in Lagos in this season without a driver is not the most exciting thing to do. It feels like everyone who has a car is on the road and everyone is out and about and in a hurry!
All that driving left me cranky and aching. I digress! I was talking about peace.
When my joy was threatened last weekend, I remembered what Jesus said about peace. Two things stand out for me in this season. The first is that He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV
What a beautiful gift! The gift of peace. And this peace is not like the peace the world offers, which is shortlived at best, and unreliable. This is real peace. The kind that keeps you calm and settled even when facing the worst dilemma. Solid peace. When the Prince of Peace brings you peace, you can relax and enjoy that peace, knowing that He has you covered.
The second is that He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV
He offers us peace in Him. In the world, there’s tribulation. Tribulation is trouble, chaos, disappointments, sickness, debt, violence, evil, sorrow, pain and many negative things that tend to steal our peace and cause us pain. But we can overcome them because He overcame them. And we can have His peace even when in the midst of these things.
When I allow these promises of peace to sink deep into my heart, I get the peace and rest that my soul so seriously desires. I get the healing that I need and the motivation to continue. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23: 2-3a NKJV
In this season of celebrations, we can easily get overwhelmed in our efforts to make things perfect for our family and friends. Just remember, we are celebrating the Prince of Peace and one of the things He brings to us is His peace. Allow yourself to embrace His peace. Make room for Him. The celebrations will not be complete without joy and peace in our hearts. That is the true gift of the season, apart from the gift of Christ Himself.
I wish you peace-filled celebrations and a heart of joy, this Christmas and always.