I met with someone a couple of weeks ago at a restaurant near her work. Over coffee, tucked into a booth in the back corner, she shared the tumult in her life. Her husband of 4 years is a drug addict. No longer in recovery, he’s now actively using. Heroin is an epidemic, but it’s also an epic life destroyer. Especially for this young wife and her 3 little kids.
Though she was taking a break from work and had to return to it in a few minutes, she still couldn’t control the tears. They moved the makeup on her face like a river moves debris during a storm. Her kids were acting out at school. Her creditors were coming to collect past debts. Her family was calling to try and intervene. She was in the middle of it all – trying to cover for him and buy time and keep the kids from failing and keep the house from being taken. He was passed out. She wanted to check out.
There would be cleanup to do before she could return to her desk that morning. There would be much more cleanup to do before she returned to a healthy life.
When I meet people like this – in a place where multiple areas of life seem to be falling apart at the same time – they feel an overwhelming sense of being overwhelmed. It’s like a scene from a movie when the main character is standing in the middle and a camera circles around them, going 360 degrees multiple times. Every shot is focused on them, but behind them from EVERY angle is chaos and strife.
I really do know what this is like. Contrary to popular belief, the life of a pastor is NOT all prayer and meditation and Bible reading. Life for me involves at least as much opportunity for anxiety, stress and distress as anyone else. I fight every day to claim the peace that God offers, but is often so elusive.
But God wants us to have Peace, even when – especially when – things in our lives are not going well. When foretelling about the coming of Jesus, the Prophet Isaiah wrote:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7, NIV, emphasis mine)
Here’s the truth: While Jesus was – and still IS – called ‘Prince of Peace’, many of us have a hard time finding His peace right now. Whether it’s related to Christmas or feels purely coincidental. Whether it’s caused by the uncertainty of our world, the change in our political landscape, the division of our nation or something much more personal – like the loss of your job or a spouse that wants a divorce or the death of a loved one. Whatever it is, many of us are struggling to find peace in our souls.
Since this is a blog SERIES, I’m going to let us stay here, on this note, until tomorrow. I’m hoping that you’ll hang, chew on, and pray about the following important questions:
- On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is ‘not-a-care-in-the-world’, 10 is panic attack, where are YOU on the internal peace scale?
- Assuming you’re not a 1, what are the factors that are contributing to the lack of peace in your life? Do NOT read the next question until you answered this one!
- Seriously, answer the previous question.
- In answering the previous question, you probably wrote down one or more external things (things happening around you or in the lives of other people). How much of what is making you anxious is something you can actually control? Put a percentage next to it. (I control 10% or 50% or 80% of that specific factor)
Tomorrow, I’m going to give you some real tools that will help you find the Peace that God so desperately wants you and me to have. In fact, that peace is at the core of Christmas, and it IS attainable for all of us, regardless of what’s happening around you.
Today, I want you to pray that God would open your heart and mind to receive that gift of peace. Pray that he would make you willing to do, say, and think whatever is required for you to have the Prince of Peace overwhelm your soul today. Pray that God would speak to you allowing you an honest reflection on the questions I’ve asked you to thing about today so that you can be prepared for tomorrow’s post.
We’ll talk again tomorrow!