When I was a kid, I loved Christmas. The magic of Santa, the colors of lights and sounds of carols. The cocoa and sweets. The mountains of presents. But mostly I loved that for one day, everyone got along. Everyone was happy. There were hugs, and thoughtful gifts, and laughter. For one day, there was peace on Earth- peace in the family.
As I grew older, family harmony and peace was something I more dearly longed for. At times it seemed unattainable. But on Christmas morning, there it was. In my early adult years, my parents divorced, family became more divisive, and Christmas morning no longer held any peace or harmony. It held heartbreak and longing for the past. It held stress of making sure gifts were equally thought out for each person, that my time was evenly split, that neither parent was mentioned in front of the other. It festered into anxiety and physical sickness. What once was joyful anticipation is now dreaded eagerness for the day to be over. Can anyone else relate?
As I grew in adulthood, I became increasingly jealous of other families. My adult friends who were saving their money to fly home; parents who were eager to dote upon their children with love and encouragement. Eager to get home to family? Encouraging parents? What a concept. I caught myself throwing pity-parties, “Why can’t my family get it together?” “Why can’t my family just set aside selfishness for peace and harmony, even for just one day?”
One morning as I spent some time with the Lord, I remember reading this week’s passage from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “… My grace is sufficient.” It took on new meaning. In response to my questions “Why this”, “Why not that”, etc., God was whispering “My grace is sufficient. I am your peace. I am your perfect family. I am enough for you.”
Do I still want peace and harmony in my family? Of course. But I don’t need it to have peace and harmony in myself, because those are gifts that come from the grace of God, not my circumstances. Prayerfully I can internalize those gifts and externalize them to my children when I have my own family. I can learn from my past and implement God’s grace into my marriage, into my children’s lives, into my work.
Often our hearts desires are of the Lord, but we are looking from the wrong source. We desire His fruits, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control- but we seek them in this world. We look for love in relationships which can breed disappointment in marriage. We look for peace in our families which can breed frustration. We look for joy in our work, which can lead to feeling unfulfilled.
“Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world hath suffered long; Beneath the angel-strain have rolled to thousand years of wrong; and man, at war with man, hear not the love song which they bring; O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.”
This Christmas, my heart’s desire is to hush the noise, both external and internal. To meditate on Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know I am God.” This Christmas, may we silence the strife, even just for a day, and hear the angels sing, “God’s grace is sufficient.”