Father, I feel it in the air. I am taking some of it into my lungs. It tastes like spiritual smog, and I need your help, Holy Spirit, to clean up what I am breathing in. This season of hurrying, scurrying and worrying is the complete opposite of what it should be. This is that year-end time when our hearts should be the most comforted, our minds at the deepest rest and our souls calmly yielded to sovereign grace and immeasurable love. But, Jesus, I keep encountering the opposite when I am talking with people. There is a swarm of other that is plaguing their hearts, accosting their minds and provoking their souls. You said, O King,
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
So, where is it? Where is that elusive peace that so many are longing for? With ease, I have it as my own today, Jesus. But the previous couple of days it felt like I was chasing it in futility – like running down a feather in a windstorm. I could see it, but I could not appropriate it. Today, with no trying, deep peace is in my possession, but what about the others – how do we help those people? For my friend who is contemplating divorce – how will Your peace to patiently wait be found by her? For another friend who is already in the midst of divorce proceedings, how will he rest in the assurance that You have not left him while he wrestles with the reality that his family is bring fractured? I think of two parents who will spend their first Christmas in the absence of a daughter who took her own life this year. More than one unmarried friend is wrestling with why they have no mate for yet another holiday season. Then there is that wife preparing to bury a husband of five decades; she needs unprecedented layers of Your peace. My friend who has poured so much material wealth into Your people is now pondering his two businesses that are submerged in a drying up of assets – He wonders if He has failed you, and is grappling with anger and shame. That young man with same sex attraction continues to vacillate between wanting the “freedom to be who he is” sexually, while also experiencing deep conviction that his desires are in direct conflict with Your truth. And what of that young widow who is spending another Christmas without her man – the words of her Christian friends do not carry the peace that she has longed for over the last few Christmases. These people carry in their hearts the valid struggles that find us in life. It makes sense to me that they are inwardly wrestling. What does not make sense is those who struggle over trivial things, forfeiting their peace, or sacrificing their contentment on the altar of envy, greed and materialism. This Christmas season in America blinds so many to what You have already given, because their senses are bombarded with ceaseless streams of impeccable marketing, high gloss brochures and HD presentations of 60% off sales at the malls. All of this reminds me of what my Bible records in 2 Chronicles 15:5: “In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands.”
And, Father, these are merely the empty places that I can consider in a thirty-minute time span. You can see infinitely more, and to the omniscient degree of perfection. Most of what disturbs us today is not worthy of our being disturbed. We fall apart at the slightest tremors. For those who are struggling under valid loads of heartbreak, loss and pain – on behalf of those people I long to know how to help. What shall we say to them, Lord Jesus? You declared that You will grant other-worldly peace, and we believe that. It seems, though, that Your offer gets tangled in a thicket some days. I suppose I will pray then that You will disentangle us. Untie the knots in our minds and hearts. Blow out the smog with strong winds of promise and patience. Let us dare to wait on You another day – and to worship as we wait. Strengthen our distaste for the temporal, and loosen our clutches on the stuff of this age. We hunger and thirst for righteousness and You have already promised that those who continue to do so will be satisfied. Lift our eyes up so that we can live with an elevated view, trusting that the One who is always atop the mountains will bring us our help in due season. Today I am convinced that Your companionship is the best (only?) answer to our distracted souls. When You are near, we are at rest. When You are present, we are at peace.
Help us, Holy Spirit, not to presume to encounter that peace anywhere other than in the presence of the Prince of Peace. He is our hope and delight. We believe that His peace is available and, as we prioritize it, we will be shaken off of those lesser things in which we have presumed at times to locate our peace. Jesus, train us now. Help us not only to learn that You alone are our peace…
Help us to remember it always.
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