Living Columns & Blogs

Finding peace in the new year

How was last year for you? Unless you lived in a cave in the middle of nowhere, how could you avoid the turmoil the U.S. experienced in this political season, the wars in the Middle East or the terrorism throughout western Europe? I mean, what a year.

With our 24-hour news cycle and all of the news anchors, reporters and pundits weighing in with their “2 cents,” we’re bombarded with everything that’s bad and horrific. Even the weather forecasters seem to incite fear of impending weather with all sorts of descriptive adjectives and body language. Enough already.

Living your life in fear of anything is debilitating and often results in ordering your life around things you can control, avoiding what you can’t. Whatever is new you avoid. It’s no way to live. So what’s the answer? It seems to me it becomes a matter of where you place your trust and whether peace is the result. Let me define what I mean by peace: It’s the gift I receive when I trust in Christ. The ability to rise above adversity because of that gift, gaining a strength to face it and overcome it knowing who’s in control. It doesn’t mean adversity goes away.

We’re still going through the Christmas season and no doubt you’ve heard the ancient stories about the Jesus Christ — the living hope of the world, born to reconcile the world to God. Setting us free from sin by his blood shed on the cross. Enabling us to have a relationship with God if we chose to put our faith in Jesus finished work. Few seem to remember or even know all the benefits of this relationship we’re invited to partake in and fail to realize it has a bearing on the here and now of our lives. Peace is just one benefit and the subject at hand.

Peace with God was brought through a living hope, Jesus Christ. And peace with God has both an eternal and a “here and now” benefit. Both Psalms 4 and 5 speak to this. Fears of the “here and now” as well as of the future along with the angst from ongoing tensions and conflicts can disrupt our ability to cope well with life. Instead of toughing it out on your own or self-medicating, what the Psalmist is saying is that a close personal and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ is the balm our spirits need.

Maybe you’ve tried everything but Christ and it has left you empty. Don’t allow past experiences to stop you from reaching out. Ask Jesus into your heart and rest in the knowledge that millions have discovered and which you will too: He can be trusted. Someone has said, “God’s peace is unshakable because there has never been a time or an event when God has felt disturbed. His peace and presence are sure. They are immovable.” He is the same yesterday today and tomorrow. Relinquish your fears to the creator of all things and like the psalmist cast all your cares upon him. To paraphrase Philippians (4: 6-7 ), don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything pray and petition with thanks giving your requests to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

What’s it worth to know that deep in your heart? As you trust the Lord in baby steps, you will discover the same truth David in Psalm (57: 1-3) did: God will look after you, he will be your shelter, your shield and his strong right hand will be in the midst of all your adversity and give you peace in the midst of whatever fear you face. John’s gospel (14:27) and (19: 20) says Jesus gives his disciples his peace in the midst of their fear and anxiety. In other words, he exchanges what troubles us for his peace. Got peace today?

The Rev. Norm Hooven can be reached at revnorm@ juno.com.

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