Hello weekend readers. My musings are about peace—or perhaps in this world—the loss of peace. My heart reaches out to the Ukrainian people as Russia continues to shell that country and try to bring it to its knees. It hasn’t happened-why? Because these people have a deep faith in God! Despite the loss of lives and property, they continue in their steadfast faith in God’s strength and power. In a short message from President Zelensky early this morning he reminded his people and this world that the faith of his people doesn’t waiver and amidst this time of war they still have peace in their hearts.
My reaction to this was “wow!” We can get easily filled with worry and anxiety because we lost our car keys or our political candidate didn’t win. We get ourselves so bound up in the dumbest things and for those of us, who like the Ukrainian people who put their faith in God, I have to ask “what is the difference about faith from these folks and us?”
Pastor Max Lucado wrote: “One would think Christians would be exempt from worry. But we are not. We have been taught that the Christian life is a life of peace, and when we don’t have peace, we assume the problem lies within us. Not only do we feel anxious, but we also feel guilty about our anxiety!” A powerful statement filled with truth. Jesus never told us our life of faith would be peaceful—in fact, Jesus said anything but! However, Jesus did tell us that “in Him only” can we have everlasting peace. Sadly, many of us think this type of peace means heaven, but that’s not true! And I think the Ukrainian people exemplify that trust in God’s peace even in the middle of a horrible and unjust war.
The Apostle Paul tells us “Be anxious for nothing.” There is no wiggle-room for Paul, no leeway in getting out of these words because Paul knows what anxiety is. Ship-wrecked, beatings and imprisonment was his live but he never gave up. He could have easily sat in his worry and anxiety creating a downward spiral that would have killed him in both body and soul. Thankfully in God’s strength he rose above that so we could have his precious letters inspired by the Holy Spirit for us to live our faith-journeys here on earth.
Many say ‘Paul is out of touch with us today’—is he really? If we look at how history repeats itself in our world, we’d have to say Paul is spot-on. He was concerned that people would embrace an almost-perpetual worry and anxiety so they would give up from living the life God wants for them. We all know the struggle and peace is probably one of the last things we even think of in these situations. Ask yourself how you would act if your country was bombed daily, would peace seem like a distant dream never to grasp again?
Recently, a young couple related to a couple in our home Bible study, lost their 6-month-old to death. I cannot imagine their pain and heartache–the mother has with anxiety attacks and my heart aches for them. What peace is there outside of knowing this child is now out of his many health complications as a preemie and whole again with Jesus. But, for those left here it can be little consolation and the worry that they did something wrong to cause it. So the anxiety continues, festering in heart and mind.
As we approach the Christmas celebration of Christ’s birth, many of us may be battling all kinds of things that push the peace of God out of our hearts and minds. St. Paul says “don’t do that—and I agree. Instead, open your Bible, there are pages of how God gives peace in some of the worst situations, reminding us that real peace is only from God.
Max Lucado also quoted a very powerful warning for worry and anxiety: “Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually breathless and in angst for the presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.” You have the option of God’s peace always, don’t take a different option. This Christmas let’s embrace peace by drawing near to the Prince of Peace, the power of God for us all.
I want to close with one of St. Paul’s most powerful benedictions in Philippians 4:6-7 (CEB)
“Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with a peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” AMEN!