Opening the gift of peace

Tears were streaming down the face of the woman that sat across from me. She was exhausted from trying to figure out how to care for her mom who was in the hospital, her children and financial issues that plagued her. “I’m so stressed out,” she stated.

This was the third person this week I’ve heard use those words as they have visited with me looking for prayer, answers and encouragement. Tension, stress, busyness, financial problems are just some of the robbers of the peace and rest for our hearts not only at Christmas time but, other times in our lives.

Gifts, shopping and celebration are all a part of the holiday season, but often times we miss the best present that has already been given to us — the peace that Jesus brings. Many years ago, God looked down and saw the distress of mankind and

wanted to provide a better way of life for the people He dearly loved.

As I have read the Christmas story recorded in the Bible, I have seen one common thread —Jesus was sent to bring us peace.

Luke 2:14 recorded the excitement of the birth of Jesus by stating, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The angels proclaimed that the heart of God was to bring us peace in the gift of Jesus.

Isaiah 9:6 is my favorite passage and said “For to us a child is born, to us a so is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end.”

God knew that in this fallen world, we would encounter trials, difficult situations and distress, and he gave us a precious gift to enjoy and use to make our lives better. For many years, I did not open the gift of peace in my life. What I mean is, I did not use the gift God had provided for me. God began to teach me about peace years ago and, since that time, I have had many opportunities to open the gift and practice my peace.

Eight year ago, around Christmas, my father was hospitalized. It was discovered that he had bone cancer and had a short time to live. As I walked the halls of the hospital, I pictured myself being escorted by the Prince of Peace.

A settling came over my heart, and my heart was at rest knowing God would help me if I let him. Changing the way I looked at my situation took away the stress I was battling. I dearly loved my dad and was trying to wrap my head around the news I had just received when I received a call from my mother’s caregiver.

“Kathleen, you need to get over here quick,” she stated with panic in her voice. My mom had been battling a debilitating disease for years. When I arrived at my parents’ home, Mom was gone.

I had to go tell my father, his sweet wife of more than 50 years was gone.

Again, I opened the gift of peace and used it as I delivered the news.

Just two weeks after burying mom and arranging care for my father, we had a fire in our home only a few days before Christmas. I was grateful our home wasn’t destroyed but we had extensive damage and I was already worn out from the grief of losing Mom and Dad’s diagnoses. Again, God was faithful in providing peace; I just had to unwrap it and use it.

I remembered what Jesus said in John 14:27 and depended on it. It said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not let it be afraid.” Each of us has a choice to let our heart be troubled and most of the time, stress is an inside job; how we look at our situations.

I have some beautiful presents under my Christmas tree. Hopefully, my friends and family will open them, use them and enjoy them. Gifts can be unwrapped and enjoyed or never opened and used. We each get to choose.

This Christmas, open the gift of peace and then use it throughout 2020. God sent Jesus to give us a better way to handle life, heal our broken hearts and be our provision in any situation we face. I am forever grateful for the gift of peace and pray you will open it and use it every time you need it.

May the Lord richly bless you, keep you and give you peace.