Isn’t it ironic that a day that heralds “peace” and “joy” carries so much strife and grief into our lives? Especially during these troubled times when pressure is at an all-time high. As if juggling meal plans, family dynamics, and covid restrictions, isn’t stressful enough.
“Ugh! Christmas!” How many times have you heard that already this month?
“Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth, goodwill towards men…” (Luke 2:14)
God’s Christmas gift promises “Peace on earth…”
Peace in our circumstances.
Peace with others.
Why then, do we experience so little of it?
Last week we unwrapped God’s gift of peace amidst difficult circumstances and I’m still savoring it. But even as I hold His gift in my heart, peace in the arena of relationships has been a bit sparse.
And I’ve discovered something you may be able to relate to: when under pressure my default position is “self-preservation”: only seeing and reacting to the immediate pressure I face, without much reference to those around me. Everything else–everyone else–falls back to a secondary position of importance. I funnel my energy into my inner world as I hunker down inside myself to cope. And I don’t exhibit much patience in the process.
No wonder I’m not experiencing God’s gift of peace in my relationships!
What can we do to experience peace with others, especially through the holidays? Here are three steps to unwrap God’s gift of peace in our relationships, especially when we’re under pressure.
Perspective: Cultivate a big picture view by remembering what’s really important. Our petty differences, irritations, preferences, grudges, all fall away before the preciousness and fragility of life. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the full weight of this truth. What remains paramount amidst every pressure is that God is revealed and others are loved through us. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Praise: Build a bridge of peace by sharing words of praise. When dealing with a difficult person this Christmas praise them for anything positive about them that you can see. (If you can’t find anything, ask God to show you something praiseworthy.) Keeping quiet when that abrasive person grates against us can be a real accomplishment. However, though silence is good, praise is even better for it communicates the gracious love of our own patient Savior.“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)
Practice: Escape “self-preservation mode” by focusing on the needs of others. Ask yourself, “What can I do this holiday season to help my spouse, relative, friend, or neighbor cope with the pressure they are facing? Look for opportunities to highlight God’s presence. Act on opportunities to share His love. Seek peace and pursue it…” (I Peter 3:11)
And receive, unwrap, and enjoy God’s gift of peace on earth. . .
. . . even on our own little patch of it.
What do you do to promote peace in your relationships amidst high-pressure situations?