It’s strange that the very time of year we celebrate “peace on earth” is one of the most frazzled and hectic.
But Christmastime or not, many of us grind through our days with a heart empty of peace. The world is filled with overload of all kinds. But God’s children have been offered the peace that passes understanding.
How do we live in peace?
1. Remember prayer and meditation.
It’s amazing to me how many people—good Christian people—ask for pastoral counsel without first having spent one minute in prayer about the situation. Literally.
Suggesting that you remember to pray about whatever disturbs your peace may seem elementary, but if we’re honest, I think we’d acknowledge that it’s not always our first response. More often, it’s our last resort.
There is no substitute for spending quiet, focused time with the Lord in prayer—bringing our needs to Him, claiming His promises, and allowing His truths to grip our souls.
2. Cultivate spiritual and social support.
You may have a family that encourages you in tumultuous times. Your family may create your tumultuous times. In any case, you need support. And that is one of the precious gifts of the local church.
The early Christians were sustained in a hostile culture through fellowship. Acts 2:42 records, “And they continued stedfastly in…fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Develop relationships with others in your church. Sometimes you may need to share your soul struggles with a godly mature Christian who will point you to the Lord and uphold you in prayer.
Good friends are good medicine for restless souls. Don’t be afraid to seek the support of others. And don’t be slow to give encouragement to those in need.
3. Reconcile a broken relationship.
I have learned that I do not have the strength to live my life upset or at odds with others. Bitterness is too heavy a burden for the Christian to carry, and it is poisonous to peace.
Ephesians 4:32 gives a prescription for torn relationships: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
I don’t deserve Jesus’ forgiveness. But He gave it to me anyway, and He gives me the grace to extend it to others—even when they don’t deserve it.
4. Serve others.
The most unhappy Christians are self-centered. Working to fill the needs of others gives perspective to our pain. If you want to find peace in a hurting world, find someone who is hurting, and be a blessing to them.
Even in the busyness of the holidays, we must never be too busy to serve. Even Jesus “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister…” (Mark 10:45). Serving others is a tremendous blow to the self-focus that too easily dominate our thoughts at this time of the year.
Emotional health accompanies a generous spirit. Perhaps this is one reason why Jesus taught “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving keeps our hearts tender to the Lord and to others. It focuses our priorities on the eternal. And it reminds us of our gracious Provider.
Sometimes the best cure for tight nerves is a nap. When you’re exhausted and running on coffee and adrenaline, every problem looks like Goliath. Give your body some time to rest; give your mind some time to renew.
7. Give grace.
Pet peeves, small-seeming irritations, and aggravating habits of others will quickly rob you of peace if you let them. Sometimes we just need to give grace and let go. As Richard Swenson noted in Margin, “Grace preempts accusation, freeing both parties.”
Remember that you are not the only one struggling for peace in a busy world. Perhaps a large dose of grace from you will be just what you and another person need.
If your world is spinning and your nerves are snapping, remember that Jesus’ peace really is possible: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).