Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advent Week 2: PEACE

"I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn't like the peace that this world can give. So don't be worried or afraid." (John 14:27, CEV)

*Here we are already at week two of Advent.  And the theme of the second week is peace.  To parents, especially those who have children with special needs, the notion of peace at this time of year may seem nothing short of ridiculous.  It appears to elude us with the added demands of the season and the frenzy it creates in our children.  When we'd love nothing more than to be sipping hot cocoa, listening to carols and watching the new snow fluttering down as we snuggle in front of a roaring fire, we instead find chaos at its worst.

But that little babe who dared to be born in the most humble of circumstances promised us peace unlike any we have ever known.  The world seduces us into thinking a healthy child or financial stability will produce that inner calm we so desperately seek.  If only the kids would be okay for a while.  If only the relatives or friends would be more understanding.  If only the school would cooperate with us.  Foolishly, we run ourselves ragged, fixated on things like this that will never bring us lasting peace because, well, life happens.

Instead, God guides us to the recipe for that lasting contentment and blessed assurance that all will ultimately be okay.  Those instructions can be found in Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord  is near.  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. (NIV) 

Let's pull those verses apart to discover the new habits we can develop to give us that amazing serenity:
  • Find your joy in the Lord.  While the world offers things that bring temporary delight, God offers you an everlasting awe that can't be obtained anywhere else.  If you take some time to think on it, that alone can bring you some happiness in the midst of your storms.  Every snowy mountain, every colorful sunrise bears testimony to His beautiful glory.  It's a gift to merely bask in that.
  • Don't take out your frustrations on others.  Your composed behavior will show them that there's something pleasantly different about you -- that you're walking closely with the One who is right at hand to care for you through every challenge you face.  Only by clinging to the power of the Holy Spirit can you go easy on others when you're in a tempest yourself!
  • Don't tie yourself up in knots with worry.  Live like a person who actually believes what they profess to on Sunday!  Lift your concerns to God in prayer and thank Him that He even allows you to approach Him with such things!  Praise Him that He cares about your every tear!  And know that He has your best in mind and will either deliver you from or through your troubles.  Rest in the confidence that solid trust in the Maker of the Universe provides.
When we do each of these things, finding the Lord as THE source of our joy, being remarkable in our soft approach with others, and falling into God's arms with full trust, then will our Creator faithfully set a guard over our hearts and minds creating an indescribable inner calm.  It's when our focus is on knowing a God who makes everything manageable by His power that we find what is anxiously missing in our lives.  There's a solid peace in our hearts in spite of the madness of the world swirling around us.

In the words of St. Augustine, "Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in Thee."

*Originally published December 5, 2010

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