During this time of year, we often hear the words “Peace on Earth” repeated in Christmas carols and sermons. This phrase comes from Luke 2:14 in which a host of angels proclaim the birth of Christ to shepherds. The full verse from the ESV translation reads “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Lately, peace has been a difficult commodity to come by and many of us have felt the press of anxieties upon our hearts more heavily than normal. A global pandemic and turbulent election season have left us feeling distant from family and friends in a time in which we typically draw near to each other. School, work, and church, which form the majority of our routines, have all been disrupted. It can feel like any concept we had of normalcy has slipped away, perhaps never to return. In spite of all of this, God remains unchanged. He is a pillar of consistency in a chaotic storm, like a lighthouse guiding small boats safely to shore. It is in him that we can find peace, in part because his unchanging nature is one of great love.
It isn’t hard to start questioning God’s love when difficult times hit and its more in our nature to pull away from Him rather than lean in. We can begin to feel like God doesn’t understand what we are going through and become angry with Him when things go awry. We might even question if He’s there at all when we are at our lowest point.
Hebrews 4:15 describes how God can sympathize with our weakness towards sin because He became human in order to save us, though He persevered through temptations when we would not have. In the same way, He is also intimately aware of the pain and fear that we feel because of His firsthand experience. What would it be like to be scorned in your hometown, plagued by community leaders who despised you, betrayed by a friend, and ultimately abandoned by your closest companions to die a violent death? This would induce fear in even the strongest of us, but because of His great love for us, Jesus persevered that we might find both rest and redemption in His sacrifice.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us into this rest with the words “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” If Jesus was willing to bear your gravest sins to the cross, the heaviest burden imaginable, would He not also desire to help you bear your anxieties? God is not unaware of what you have gone through this year or any other time in which you have been in deep distress. He knows the pain you are feeling and desires that you would share it with Him so that he might lighten your load.
The Bible names Jesus as the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6, along with several other titles such as “Wonderful Counselor.” He is God of the whole universe, creating it from simple spoken words and forming humanity with His own hands. This same God desires to be the Prince of Peace in your life. He desired it so much in fact that He willingly was born as a human child in a state wholly undignified for a king. God wanted a relationship with you so much that He lived a full life in a sinful and fallen world that rejected its Maker. God cares for you so much that He took your deepest shame upon Himself and bore it to a bloody end. After His victory over death and ascension into heaven, God remembered you still. He desires that you would allow yourself to give your worries to Him that He may in return give you peace on Earth until the day comes in which you will find the ultimate peace in His presence in heaven. So as you try to adapt to the changes happening this Christmas season, may you find comfort in the words spoken to those shepherds 2000 years ago. God hasn’t forgotten about you and desires to bless you with a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones,