Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Gift of Peace

"Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?...Why do you have so little faith?"  Matthew 6:27, 30

This Christmas season, I'd like to ask you a question. What do you worry about? What are you worried about today? The same things you were worried about yesterday, last week, last month, or new things? I wouldn't be surprised if you said, 'All of the above!' That's one of the problems with worry. Once fearful thoughts enter our mind, it's hard to get rid of them, and once we allow ourselves to think about what could happen in one area of life, those same fears can be transferred to other things.

This might seem like a strange subject to talk about for Christmas. We usually think about joy, peace, and hope this time of year, and I certainly want you to experience those things. But worry can get in the way, can't it? Whether you are afraid of buying the wrong gift for someone or running out of time to go shopping; or if your fears arise for more serious things such as not having enough money for food, let alone to buy gifts, or having to face people you don't like on what should be the best holiday of the year, or worse yet, being alone: Christmas joy can easily get swallowed up by fear, anger, loneliness, or pain.

Since Christmas is about Jesus, I believe it's fitting to consider what He had to say on the subject of worry. His words are straightforward, and they boil down to this: 'Don't! It doesn't do any good.' And for those who do worry, He asks the question: "Why do you have so little faith?"

Have you ever thought of your worries as being about a lack of faith? It's easy to feel alone in our fears, problems, and challenges, and that's where worry often begins. But if we take time to remember God is with us and we are never alone, that can bring us peace.

One of the easiest ways to see how much we are living by faith is to look at what we worry about. If you are worried about decisions you need to make, this points to a lack of faith in God's guidance. If you are worried about your career, relationships, or the future, this points to a lack of faith in God's perfect timing and goodness. If you are worried about being safe or having what you need, this points to a lack of faith in God's protection and care.

Sometimes the problem isn't so much about believing what God has promised, but knowing what He has promised. Do you know what God has said about guiding you, being good to you, and caring for you? And if so, have you put His words to the test? Have you asked for His help in difficult situations? Have you asked Him to give you what you need? Have you asked for wisdom when facing a tough decision? Have you asked for strength to make it through trials?

Other common worries have to do with our concern about what others think of us, or even what God thinks. We worry about having the right look, the right image, and the right reputation. We worry about being good enough. Do I have enough ambition and accomplishments? Do I have enough good deeds on my "nice" list this year? Do my friends, coworkers, and family members think highly enough of me? Am I measuring up to the standard of all I should be--beauty-wise, brain-wise, socially, and spiritually?

Whatever worries you can relate to here, and others you may have--I encourage you to take a deep breath this Christmas and remember why Jesus came: to bring us peace and hope. Jesus says we don't need to worry, and He would love nothing more than to give you peace as you believe Him, trust Him, and ask Him to meet your every need.

"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart...So don't be troubled or afraid." ~ Jesus (John 14:27)

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.  All rights reserved.