Preparing for Peace
By Hannah Sweet
In life we prepare for all sorts of things. We prepare dinner; we prepare our children for school; we prepare ourselves for our work days; we prepare our homes for company; we prepare for weather; we prepare for the holidays. Humans spend a large portion of their lives preparing for things, and some of the things we prepare for never come. As we’ve settled into the rhythm of the Advent season I’ve seen lots of people continuing their holiday preparations. Putting up Christmas lights on their homes, decorating tress, buying gifts, baking cookies, and so many more things that we only do to prepare for the holiday season. Now I’ll be the first to admit, I am of the firm belief that my home only needs to be that “Better Homes & Gardens” level of clean one time of year and that is Christmas time; the rest of the year my house has a very comfortable level of “lived-in”. This Christmas however, I am finding it difficult to get into that magical spirit of preparation. In fact, I dragged my feet in writing this all week. Not because I don’t have any thoughts on the focus of the second week of Advent, no it’s because Christmas is hard. I have been finding it very difficult to focus on the blessings I do have this season, and as a result I have not felt much like preparing for the holidays. Good thing for me God has a better plan. I recently got some free time I hadn’t planned on having and the seed of Christmas preparation had room to bloom. So in my newly found free time, I drug my tree upstairs and put on my favorite Christmas tree decorating movie, Die Hard, and I got into the holiday mood. God whispered into my heart that even though I was hurting I still needed to prepare for Christmas. God wasn’t just talking about putting up my colorful decorations, no; God was reminding me that I’m not just preparing for gifts and a family dinner, but something so much greater that I’d almost forgotten to remember. The Lord reminded me that even though Christmas is hard and even though it’s become a lot, it’s still about something so much greater than the lights, the gifts, the songs, the movies, the hustle, the bustle, my friends, my family, or even me. Advent isn’t just a countdown to Christmas. It’s a countdown to the peace that passes all understanding. God knows that I’m struggling to remain in high spirits; that I’m struggling with sadness and loss; and that I’m not the only one. So instead of focusing on how my Christmas should have been this year, I am focusing on the blessing of peace we are all about to receive. In my holiday struggle, the Lord led me to a verse from Psalms 29.
11 The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.
I don’t have to feel strong to get through this Christmas. God has already given me strength and blessed me with peace. I only have to be open enough to let it in. Will I falter? Will I feel sad again this holiday season? Absolutely! But that’s okay! I’m not letting you in on my Christmas struggle so that you can feel sorry for me or sad for me, I am writing to you honestly so that if you don’t feel that sense of peace in your preparation you know that you are not alone and that God will give you peace if you ask for it. Christmas is hard, but it is also beautiful, wonderful, magical, and magnificent! Anything can happen at Christmas, even finding peace to fill you from top to bottom, inside out. Trust me, I know first-hand. Being filled with peace doesn’t mean that you don’t feel sad or that Christmas magically becomes a cinch; but it does mean that you have the grace to put the joy of others holidays ahead of the sorrow of your own. Just a simple smile to a stranger this holiday season can show the peace that lies in the preparation of our hearts for the coming of Jesus, which is still the reason for the season! If you want to achieve the peace of preparation try praying this prayer and ask God to grant you such a thing. I have it on good faith he won’t deny you what you seek.
Thank you for granting us peace in preparation as we ready ourselves inside and out for the coming of the peace that passes all understanding. Lord, you know that the holidays aren’t always easy and in fact sometimes they are very hard, but you are the key to easing my sorrows. We simply need ask; so consider this my Christmas request. Please help fill me with the peace of Jesus so that with just a simple smile or “Merry Christmas” I can fill someone else with the peace of preparation this holiday season. Amen.