Christmas is a time of peace, right?
“Peace on earth, goodwill to man”.
Surely it’s a time of peace, yet its also a time for kids’ Christmas programs, gift shopping, family hosting, traveling and all of the extra concerts, light shows and special events that come with the season. Sometimes I find that Christmas is the least peaceful time of the year for my family.
When we are dealing with stress or anxiety, we have several options.
We can seek to control our world.
We can dominate the people and circumstances around us until they fit our desires. We can also take a more subtle approach and manipulate our way to peace. Or we can seek to eliminate all of the people, circumstances and commitments that disturb our peace. This option may give us some degree of internal peace, yet at the cost of external conflict.
We can also seek to surrender to the world.
We can surrender to the desires and temptations that surround us and create emotional tension. We can turn on a screen, open a bottle or find escape in all sorts of indulgences. Or we can surrender our desires and temptations – we can try to eliminate what seems to be the source of our stress by not having any desire in the first place. Experience tells us that the conflicting and persistent nature of our passions make it impossible to find peace through surrender.
A third way to find peace is to transcend our world.
We can look beyond ourselves and our world to find resources in a transcendent source. This is the Christian way of peace.
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul gives us a very simple process for tapping into the resources we need to find lasting peace. First we must realize that anxiously worrying about anything is a sin for the child of God. Second we must open the internal dialogue of worry into an external conversation with God – talking with God, presenting our desires to him and then thanking him for the good he has and will do for us. When we do this, we not only gain the psychological benefits of prayer – we gain the guarding presence of the peace of God in our hearts and minds.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I recently read about a woman who created an anxious box. Every time she began to experience anxiety or worry, she would write down a prayer request and drop it in the box and leave her desires with God.
What makes all of this possible is the amazing fact that the creator of the universe loves us. He has sent Christ into the world in order to show us that love and open a door of access for us into his presence. This Christmas, don’t give in to the way of strain and stress. Bring your desires to God in prayer and enjoy the peace of God which transcends understanding.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown