? “It’s the most stressful time of the year.” ?
Oh, wait. You’re right. That’s not how the lyrics go. I confess. When the rush of Christmas began in my household, I replaced the words with ones that felt honest. Probably not a great way to transform my thought life, I know.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year… It’s the ha—happiest season of all.”
Sometimes this cheery tune doesn’t reflect how it feels to make my busy life busier.
Researchers call it “festive stress” and have categorized what causes the most tension during the holidays.
- Gift shopping (56 percent)
- Crowds and lines (54 percent)
- Cleaning (45 percent)
- Knowing what to get people (38 percent)
- Cooking (36 percent).
Isn’t it ironic that the holiday traditions—meant to celebrate the gift of peace and the spirit of giving—have become the very activities making Christmas the busiest, and often times, most stressful time of the year?
It’s easy to miss the whole meaning of Christmas and what should be a time of joy and rest.
The Hebrew word for peace (shalom) is defined as:
Ahh. The presence of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit brings a sense of contentment and wholeness to believers no matter what our outward circumstances are.
Peace on earth started with the birth of Jesus Christ. God in human flesh born right into our hectic world. It must have been stressful for Mary and Joseph to find out there was no availability at the inn when they arrived in Bethlehem. She would give birth in a stable. The bassinet for the Son of God would be a feeding trough for cattle. His blanket, ragged pieces of cloth.
“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us” (Ephesians 2:14).
I can’t think of a more powerful way for God to show his love to us than this. The Creator of the world constraining himself to the confines of a human body in order to relate to us. To pursue us. Royalty born into our poverty. He was tempted in every way but never sinned. He lived a perfect life just to die for the sin of the entire world.
Jesus felt all the emotions we feel. He was tempted in every way we are. He knows how hard life is on earth.
Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation.” Jehovah is the proper name for the one true God.
God came to earth to save us.
Jesus is our Savior in the middle of our chaotic life. Our marriage struggles. Our financial hardship. Our depression. Our anxiety. He knows the constant ache in our hearts that miss our loved ones in heaven. Click To Tweet
Jesus sees our stress and understands it because he lived with stress, too. And sometimes we forget he was born right in the middle of it.
I often associate the Christmas tradition of gift-giving with the three wise men traveling to give gifts to Jesus. But now I can’t help but think of God’s gift to us. When Jesus came to earth he came with a mission. He came to die for us. He came to give us the greatest gift of all. The gift of salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside every person who believes in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Christ’s physical presence on earth was limited to one place at a time. But now we have the blessing of his presence with us at all times! Christ’s death on the cross made it possible for us to have a personal relationship with God. We can confess our sins directly to our Father in Heaven because Jesus delivered us from the judgment our sins deserved.
Ephesians tells us that in our moment of salvation (when we confess our belief in Jesus), we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” and guaranteed eternal life in heaven. When Christ’s physical body left earth and he ascended to heaven after his death and resurrection, he left us with the gift of peace.
This is the greatest gift of all! Peace that surpasses all understanding. Peace that doesn’t make sense when looking at our circumstances.
I feel the battle waging a war within me daily.
The same Holy Spirit that came upon the virgin Mary and the same Holy Spirit whose glory shone around the shepherds, is the same Holy Spirit who fights your battles.
So how do we get the peace the Holy Spirit offers us when life on earth is so hard and painful?
The Holy Spirit gives us peace when we trust in God.
Sometimes I forget that trusting God involves a choice. When I choose to trust God, he fills me with joy and peace. But I have to determine to change the way I think and focus my thoughts on who God is instead of my problems. The Bible says I can direct my thoughts to choose life.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
The Holy Spirit gives us peace as we walk in obedience.
“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NLT).
Verse 8 in Philippians tells us to focus our thoughts and verse 9 encourages us to practice what we have learned. The more I obey the Lord, the more I experience the active work of the Holy Spirit in my life helping, strengthening, and ministering to me.
The Bible says we’ll have peace when we live by the Spirit and crucify our sinful desires. The Holy Spirit empowers us to change.
The Holy Spirit gives us peace in our relationships.
One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to unify believers. Yep, the Holy Spirit helps you get along with others. But sometimes it requires some hard work, doesn’t it?
The Holy Spirit gives us peace of mind in difficult situations.
Because we have the Lord in our life, we can have unexplainable peace in difficult circumstances.
I caught myself singing the cheerful version of that Christmas carol, and this time, the words matched my feelings. Maybe it’s because some of my lists have been crossed off and the festive stress is decreasing. But maybe it’s also because I’m learning that peace is not related to my busyness. Biblical peace is not determined by circumstances, it’s determined by the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life, even when it’s stressful.
- You don’t have to stand in line for it.
- You don’t have to subscribe to anything to get it.
- You don’t have to purchase anything first.
- You don’t have to make it on the nice list.
- You don’t have to be good enough.
- You don’t have to earn it.
- You’re never too old to receive it.
- It’s never too late to accept it.
- It never goes out of style.
- It never expires!
- You don’t need to buy a warranty.
- You will never want to take it back!
- All you have to do his have faith and believe in Jesus.
It’s time. I’m ready to embrace the gift of your love. I’m ready to believe in a love that no one else can give to me. A love that went to the cross and died for my sins. A love that wants to know me. A love that will never leave me. Never forsake me. A love that will walk with me through all the pain in this life. No matter what. A love that forgives me. A love that teaches me how to live. Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross for my sins. I want to live for you. One step at a time. One day at a time. Show me. Lead me. Guide me. I surrender my pain. I surrender my sorrows. I surrender my bitterness and pride. I surrender all. I love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
If you have decided to follow Jesus today, I would be so happy if you shared in the comment section below. The Christian life is not a perfect life. But having Jesus to walk through life with you is the best gift you will ever receive. God bless you!
Are you struggling to find peace today? Leave your prayer request in the comments. I would love to pray for you.
Welcome to the Empowered Blog Series. Here are the first five posts in this series.