“…Sleep in heavenly peace.”
I finished singing “Silent Night” to the anxiety-filled patient sitting across from me on the psych ward where I work.
I had sung several Christmas carols, but they had done little to calm her.
“What you need is heavenly peace,” I said.
Then I began to sing a new song the Lord brought to mind.
“Lord, she needs Your heavenly peace.
Calm her heart; let her sorrows cease.
Help her to know that You are near.
Dissolve her fears.
And help her receive
Your heavenly peace.”
As I sang, I realized that’s the kind of peace we all need — God’s heavenly peace.
When the angels came to announce Jesus’ birth, they proclaimed that heavenly peace was coming to earth.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14 KJV).
When Jesus left the earth, He reminded people that even though He was going back to heaven He was leaving behind His heavenly peace:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27).
Christmas time reminds me of my need for God’s peace. Sometimes it seems elusive —especially when I’m going through trials, traumas or tragedies — or brings to mind losses I’ve experienced since last Christmas.
Here are three paths to peace the Lord has given to help me maintain His heavenly peace — not only at Christmastime but throughout the year.
Focus on the Lord. Scripture gives me an excellent admonition — one I have to be reminded of again and again.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
As I determine to keep my eyes on the Lord and all He’s done for me and in me, peace overwhelms my heart. Focusing on God makes me aware of His presence with me, and as I bask in His presence, His peace always follows.
I like what one friend communicated to me about receiving God’s peace. She said that if I put Him in charge instead of trying to run things myself, then His peace will prevail because He is the Prince of Peace. When I’m not humbly accepting His role of prince in my life, peace evades me.
Make peace with the past. Too often I lose my peace because I’m locked into the past. Either I’m ruminating over what I did wrong or fretting about all the wrong that’s been done to me.
Sometimes God brings a memory from the past to mind because He wants to heal it. In the present, I can deal with that memory through prayer and asking for God’s healing touch. But living in the past and re-feeling the hurts without requesting God’s intervention leads to unrest and resentments.
If my dwelling in the past has to do with past sins, I can confess them or remind the devil I already have and that God has forgiven me of my sin and cleansed me from all unrighteousness. (See 1 John 1:9.)
God’s peace is not only in His presence but also in the present. Getting trapped in the past causes me to forfeit peace that could be mine.
God longs to heal me of every hurt from my past, so that even when I do look back, it is with a sense of peace.
Pray for peace. It’s amazing how often I’ve been overwhelmed by anxiety and then the thought has come to me to pray for peace, and when I do, I immediately receive it. Sometimes as I pray, God leads me to a specific verse, which speaks to my cause for anxiety, and His peace follows.
One battle that springs up is doubting God’s love that leads to a nagging uneasiness in my soul. Zephaniah 3:17 ministers peace to me when I’m doubting God’s love.
I have experienced again and again the promise of Philippians 4:6-7: “ 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.”
The problem is that too often I fail to pray. I’m reminded of truth from a favorite hymn: “Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” (“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” originally written as a poem by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855).
This Christmas season, even as I battle grief over hard times my family and I have faced in this past year, I will choose to ask for and receive God’s peace — His heavenly peace.
I’m so glad Jesus came to earth to give us that peace.
Elaine Creasman is a freelance writer and inspirational speaker whose writing has been published in more than 30 publications.
- What trials, traumas or tragedies tend to rob you of God’s heavenly peace?
- In what ways can you turn your focus away from your problems and turn it back to the Lord?
- What is your plan for living in the present?
- How can you improve the quality of your prayer life in order to maintain peace?