The whirlwind of life never stops. It is filled with unexpected news, events, unsolicited or ecstatic emotions, challenges, distractions, shattered hopes and so much more. Whether good or bad, the storm of life is part of our reality, and sometimes, it appears that we just cannot escape from it, that we simply cannot be still. As this month marks the end of the year and the Advent season is upon us, let’s remember that we are not helpless, because in the end, the Lord is with us. More importantly, he gives us peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (John 14:27) But peace does not equal the absence of difficulties or challenges. Indeed, the Hebrew word shalom goes deeper and describes a state of well-being and wholeness. It means having peace no matter our circumstances, whether internal or external.
When reflecting on the subject of peace, two words come immediately to my mind: trust, and forgiveness.
The peace of God is available to us because he gives it by grace. However, it does not mean that we should not seek it, by actively deciding to trust God. Sometimes, we find ourselves overwhelmed with stress and anxiety and we feel like our emotions are out of control. But we can find comfort during those times by fixing our eyes on Jesus, and by trusting that he has a plan for us. Not a plan to “harm us”, but a plan to “give us hope and a future”. (Jeremiah 29:11) Even more difficult to control are the events happening to us: challenges we sometimes cannot predict, things that go differently from what we expect, or times of waiting. Maybe you have experienced all of them in 2019. I sure have. Settling in a new country is a process that requires patience, and during those times of waiting, I more than once found myself feeling worried and uncertain. Still, I knew I had to stay still, and trust God.
We cannot put our faith in the things of this world: money, success, power, sex… things that the author Timothy Keller calls “Counterfeit Gods” in his book of the same name. However, we can have faith in our Lord.
This applies to forgiveness as well. God asks us to forgive one another and to be peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9) This is not always easy, as people can disappoint, or even betray us. And yet, holding on to harsh feelings instead of deciding to give them to God is far from liberating. In her book “I forgive you, but…”, the author Karen Jensen Salisbury reminds us that our own relationship with God started with forgiveness.
Lastly, forgive yourself. If you weren’t able to achieve all of your goals this year, it is okay, because you can start the New Year afresh.
Even if 2020 might bring its share of surprises, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to have peace. Besides, you can help your community find peace in this upcoming year by supporting Lifeline. Lifeline offers multiple free and confidential services to pregnant women, dads and families. You can learn more about it right here. Your support is greatly appreciated.
By Elodie Takamiya