It was the middle of the night, not that long ago, and I couldn’t sleep.
My mind, far too active, was thinking about those I care about. I don’t like the word worry . . . I’ll call it concern! I went over in my mind my to-do lists; long this time of year, and as I tend to do, start writing projects in my mind. “Be Still”, I tell myself, but the body doesn’t always cooperate in those wee hours.
It is always a good opportunity to pray. And I asked God that night, in the midst of my restlessness, “what do you want to say to me?”
Two things came immediately to mind, and I’ve learned to trust the quiet voice that speaks truth to me. “You are loved.” was the first thought. “Be at Peace” was the second.
These two simple phrases have stuck with me in the past days, words that have brought me hope . . . and peace.
I looked up “Be at Peace” in the Bible, wondering if these were words of Jesus. The first thing I found was from the book of Job where one of his friends Eliphaz is exhorting Job saying: Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. (Job 22:21) In that context, it reminded me of the platitudes we often offer to grieving or suffering people. They are not always that helpful, even if there is truth embedded in the sentiment.
I’ve read dozens of verses on peace since, and the beauty of it all is that Peace is a gift! In fact Jesus is spoken of as our Prince of Peace! These words were foretold by the Prophet Isaiah in 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
A prayer I often pray – for myself and for others I pray for and with comes from Philippians 4:6-7, which says: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jesus himself said: 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)
I’m struck with the second line of this verse . . . Not as the world gives. No, our world does not feel peaceful most of the time. It is broken, and tragedy seems to feed tragedy. Even as we pray to God for mercy, and this is a theme throughout the scriptures and history, we are reminded that Jesus came to bring peace. His followers were sorely disappointed when he didn’t rise up to be a great king and overthrow the current government. But his kingdom is eternal, this peace everlasting. It reaches beyond the limitations of our broken world and gives us a heavenly glimpse of a much larger picture.
We live in the temporary. Jesus is the gift of God to man, who became flesh with us, so we would not be alone. That is the gift of Christmas, and the gift of peace which is a gift for us all.
So in this second weekend of Advent, as we light the peace candle, I am grateful for the gift of peace. Peace knowing I am not alone, and knowing I am loved indeed. Peace to you, dear friends, as we receive this gift of peace.
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