Advent Devotional 2: Peace

I’ve got peace like a river… in my soul!

Do you remember this song from your childhood? One of our longtime tenants, Thelma, who wrote notes and researched for this devotional, remembers singing it in Pioneer Girls as a young child. Maybe you can remember the actions? Your fingers form a V for peace, then you spread your hands like waves on a river, and then you touch your fingers to the bottom of your feet – the “soul”!

What are some images that come to mind when you think of peace? For me it brings to mind a candlelit room with the glow of a Christmas tree, or a yoga studio with soft music playing, or a field in winter under a blanket of snow.

Is peace simply a tranquil environment? Is it a sense of calm or the absence of conflict? Are these the truest definitions of peace?

Have you ever been at a “nice” family dinner where everyone wanted to keep the peace, so no one talked about what was actually important to them? Or have you ever wanted so badly to fix a situation that seemingly had no solution? Jesus spoke these words in the book of John:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble… (John 16:33)

Don’t we know it! At this time of year, our hearts long for the comfort of family, of a warm fire with friends, of peace and prosperity, yet so often we experience loneliness, conflict, burnout and disappointment.

Achieving peace can be hard. Peace can require a struggle. If peace is more than the absence of conflict, then it might require a hard conversation to reach peace. If it is more than the absence of chaos, then we must work to resolve the chaos. If peace seems impossible, then we need a miracle that passes understanding—a miracle like the creator of the world becoming one with, one of, us.

The rest of the verse above ends with Jesus stating:

But take heart! I have overcome the world.

The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Sometimes peace can come from on high when we least expect it. There’s another hymn about peace (although I don’t know any actions to this one!) called “It Is Well With my Soul.” The first verse goes:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
“It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

It was written by Horatio Spafford in 1873, after the tragic death of all four of his daughters. He truly experienced the peace of God in unthinkable circumstances. Like the miracle of Christ’s birth as a fragile human baby, sometimes peace truly passes all understanding.

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