At the beginning of every year, people wish each other Love, Peace and Joy. Those are lovely things to wish for someone, but how do we actually accomplish them? Are we wishing for circumstances to be such that Love is automatically felt, Joy is automatically found and Peace just automatically settles in our hearts?
As nice as that sounds, what about when we aren’t feeling loved, feeling joyful or feeling peace in our lives? Wishing it into existence isn’t realistic at all if we haven’t done the work in our hearts to overcome what is challenging us. People we love will hurt us. Things happen that steal our joy. And peace in any circumstance, especially the bad times, is very hard to maintain if we don’t strengthen it in the good times. The great news is, we have the God-given ability to choose everything we want to exist in our lives. Let me explain:
In an effort to keep this simple, let us focus solely on Peace. Where does it come from? Peaceful moments? Peaceful circumstances? Sure, Peace comes easily in those situations. But unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and life is not all sunshine and roses all of the time. So how do we attain Peace in the midst of troubling times? Can we buy it? Wouldn’t that be nice!? Unfortunately, we cannot purchase Peace. Peace comes from God and IS attainable when we desire it. Wishing for Peace is a great place to start; but, we must ask ourselves some very important questions and potentially prepare for some challenges that will allow us to achieve such a glorious feat.
When we ask God for anything that only He can provide, He doesn’t wave some magic wand and grant our wishes…He isn’t a genie. What He will do, though, is provide opportunity to develop Peace that passes all human and earthly understanding. That takes some effort on our part: desire.
When Jesus Christ was born, an Angel appeared to chosen shepherds attending their flock. With this visit, also appeared heavenly hosts praising God and singing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:14) Peace is something God wants for us and freely gives us. It is we who deny Peace. How? With our earthly expectations, disappointments and frustrations.
For Peace to exist, we must desire it with all of our hearts in good times AND bad because that is where it will remain and grow. True Peace means we experience Peace in our hearts even during distress in our lives. I can speak from experience that this is not easy to do. It takes time and it takes intentional effort. And there is usually a period of time where we want to hold on to the hurt, the anger and even some feelings of hatred because we have to process what has happened to us.
When we are ready to let it go, praying helps. Every time there is bitterness, resentment, hurt and anger in my heart that is lingering far too long, I pray this prayer: “Father, create in me a clean heart and renew a ‘right’ Spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) And do you know what? It works. Sometimes faster than others. but it always works if you truly desire it.
So, what else can we actively and intentionally do to help the process? First, we must understand that the feelings we currently have are ours. What does that mean? The person or situation is not causing how we feel. What we think about the person or the situation is causing how we feel. Only we can control how we feel, not the other way around. That means if we are bitter and holding on to resentment, we are choosing that for ourselves.
Then we have to decide what exactly about this person or situation that is bothering us so much. Often times, if not all the time, it is because we have strong positive feelings initially but something happens that hurts or disappoints us and robs us of the Peace we once felt. The stronger we felt positively about it, the more challenging it will be to recover Peace when something negative happens. It is no different than grief. The stronger the love, the stronger the grief when we lose that loved one.
True Peace is not contentment in preferred circumstances; that is circumstantial Peace that can be lost when circumstances change. True Peace is accepting each circumstance as it is knowing that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Will. Peace is knowing that we can rely on God’s Strength and Grace despite earthly circumstances. Peace is not knowing the outcome but trusting you are right where you need to be because you desire God’s Will for yourself.
Peace is not getting what we want; it is acknowledging what we need and realizing the difference between the two. If what we want is Peace, then what we need is to maintain our sense of Peace despite what others think, say and do.
How can I help you achieve true Peace in 2023?