Devotion for the Week...
Last week, for the start of Advent, we looked at the hope Jesus brought to the world. For this, the second week of Advent, we look at the peace He brings.
Back when Paul and I were in university there was a big snowfall one day and we went for a walk late that evening. Everything was covered in a blanket of fresh white snow, fat snowflakes still filled the air and there wasn't much traffic or even other people walking. Everything was so quiet and calm. It was beautiful! When I think of peace, that's the sort of thing I think of...no distractions, no noisy traffic, everything beautiful, quiet and calm.
Before He died, Jesus said to His disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you" (John 14:27). I love that Jesus says He gives us His peace.
Peace in this world is hard to come by. All the circumstances have to be just right for us to feel at peace. We have to feel safe. Everyone we care about must be healthy. Our finances must be sufficient and stable. Our jobs have to be pleasant and fulfilling. Our relationships have to be happy. Our bodies have to be free of aches and pains...the list goes on and on. If any one of these things is not just as we want it to be, we worry about it. The peace that comes from the world is completely dependent on our circumstances, and so it is fragile, easily shattered by an unexpected expense or an argument with our spouse.
God's peace, though, is completely dependent only on Him. Because Jesus gives us His peace, it is a peace that has nothing to do with our circumstances. In Philippians 4:7, Paul calls it "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding" and tells us that it "will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus."
It's not when our problems, aches and pains, or whatever, disappear that we have this peace that transcends all understanding. No, Paul tells us "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (vv 6,7). 'In every situation', no matter what is going on in our lives, we can have the peace of God guard our hearts and our minds if we simply come to Him and present our requests to Him.
Now, I'm not saying that if we present our requests to God, He will give us everything we ask for and then we'll have peace. It doesn't work that way! But if we talk to Him, if we have the kind of relationship with Him where we go to Him in prayer about everything, then we will have that peace that sometimes just doesn't make sense given the situation. It's peace that can only come from God because the circumstances don't warrant us feeling peaceful, and yet we do.
There aren't many days that are the equivalent of a walk in a winter wonderland. Most days are loud and busy and full of distractions. But Jesus came into this world so that He can offer us His peace, even in the middle of all the noise and distractions.