And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6b, NASB
The Peace I Lack
Some people seem to possess and exude a sense of peace.
I’m not one of them.
Depression and anxiety wreak havoc in my mind and heart.
Even on good days, I feel uneasy when I’m unsure of what’s next, what’s best, or what’s expected of me. I second guess. I overthink. Like most of us, I have trouble just being. There’s always one more thing to do, and, when I sit down, I have access to an unlimited stream of digital stimulation.
Sometimes I choose to be my own worst enemy. I won’t let myself give in and fully enjoy good times. Instead, I remind myself to stay on guard for the next thing to go wrong. It’s unpleasant and exhausting. But I’d rather not be blindsided.
As we enter the Advent season in a world sorely lacking peace, I drag my fear of disappointment along to overwhelm the contentment I’m learning as I mature.
Enemies of Peace
Holidays can trigger depression or anxiety. For many of us, it’s both.
Bad memories. Reminders of loss. So many expectations!
Our peace is attacked from inside and out.
It seems that with each passing moment, there is less peace to be found in the world. How did we forget that agreement is not a prerequisite for civility? Wildfires. Bombs. Poverty. Hunger. Greed. Children sexually abused and exploited.
It’s impossible to escape the voices of anger, fear, and hate without hiding from opportunities to make the world better in our own small way. The fruit that the Holy Spirit works in us is in direct opposition to all that is ugly in the world.
We live in an endless flurry of activity and information to anesthetize ourselves from so much pain and the weight of bearing it all. But the numbing of avoidance is a poor substitute for peace.
One of the benefits of the holiday season is the reminder to slow down and refocus.
Advent is a time of anticipation, not of the shiny trappings of Christmas, but the true gift that doesn’t culminate in the manger, but at the cross and empty tomb. There has never been any gift under a Christmas tree that equals the One given to a broken world two thousand years ago in Bethlehem. But you wouldn’t know it by how we spend this time of year.
As today, the world had little room for grace when its embodiment came to us as baby, and where grace is not accepted and extended to others, peace is lacking.
The Peace We Need
Israel longed for the promised Messiah. They got a baby born under inauspicious circumstances.
They longed for a king. They got a common man who taught, fed, and healed people, and called out their religious leaders’ hypocrisy.
They longed to get out from under the rule of Rome. They crucified the One sent to free them from sin.
Too often what we want is not what we need.
It’s difficult to trust a God we can’t see, a God who seems to let havoc reign, a God who doesn’t stop the cruelty and pain.
But each of us has the choice of what we do with the moments given us in this life on a planet in bondage to the same curse we are under until all is made new at the end of time. Redemption is coming, and we can experience its renewal now.
I’m learning I don’t have to feel calm to have peace.
When I choose to trust God, I have peace regardless of the storm I’m in… or the storm in me.
Struggling? Check out these Six Tips to Do More than Just Survive the Holidays