“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Stress is the silent killer. Well, stress and ninjas are the silent killers, but we’re more likely to deal with stress in our day-to-day lives. Stress affects not only our outlook but our physical health. The chemicals that the body pumps through us when we go through stress are meant to prepare us for fight or flight situations, but for those of us with sedentary lifestyles (and no ninja interaction), those chemicals can wreak havoc.
The Christmas season can be one of the most stressful times of the year, with the kids home during break, the pressure and obligation to buy gifts with money you don’t have for people who don’t need them, and the circus of extended time with extended family. It might even be that your stress comes from facing the holidays without family and all the emotions that that will bring. Add to that the year we’ve had and the uncertainty we face going into a new one and we’re setting ourselves up for an unhealthy release. The temptation may be to release the pressure on an unsuspecting loved one or pet, or through some other unhealthy means.
Fortunately, there’s more and more attention given to this problem, as it becomes more and more a reality in our lives. Diet, exercise, deep breathing, and even little mini-breaks can play a big part in helping us with the stress of the day-to-day. But we don’t simply want to tamp down or ignore the stress with distraction or half-measures. We want the opposite of stress. We want peace. And there’s no peace like God’s peace. In fact, one of the biggest appeals of Christmas is the promise of peace, from the Prince of Peace himself.
Jesus’ message here, which was the message foretold by the angel at his birth, is to forget everything you know about peace. His peace isn’t like what we get from the world. It’s not dependent on circumstances, escapism, or “returning back to normal.” God’s peace is possible even in the midst of our busiest or most trying times. It is grounded in the perspective that God has us in His care, that He is in control and that nothing surprises Him – not even ninjas! And God’s peace isn’t just supplied by a God we can’t see. It’s combined with the presence of His children. We are here to help each other by carrying each other’s burdens, by lifting each other up, and by loving each other as the Prince of Peace first loved us.
May you have God’s peace this Christmas season and in the days following, no matter what they bring. If you need a little peace by means of a brother or sister in Christ. Please connect with us. We’re here for that very reason. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- Is there something about the Christmas season that adds stress to your life? If so, what? Write in the comments below!
- How has God comforted you through His peace this year? Please share below to lend perspective and encouragement to your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Jon Price, Associate Pastor