This Heart is Missing it's Peace
Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward men...
How many times have you felt your own heart missing peace?
Peace? If you ask 10 people for a definition, you will get 10 different answers. Peace is a place. Peace is the ocean, peace is the mountains, peace is when things are calm, and peace is watching Baby sleep. Peace is sitting quietly around a cozy fireplace with hot chocolate and the love of your life, sharing absolutely nothing but each other. In each one of those instances, peace is in reference to surroundings, a place; something that is tangibly happening where turmoil and dissension are absent. Unfortunately, life isn’t like that long-term. Oh yes, we might have moments or seasons like that, but not for very long.
Is it possible to have peace when things are not going well? Dreams dashed into a thousand pieces, shattered into tiny bits that have no resemblance of the dream envisioned…none!
Research tells us Jesus was born approximately 2 BC. Luke tells us the angels appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night and proclaimed the famous, Peace on earth, Goodwill to all men, depending on your translation. Scripture also tells us in Gal. 4:4, this occurred, “in the fullness of time.” But life in Palestine was anything but peaceful; ruling Romans and the Sanhedrin assured that.
We are all searching, longing for peace. Finding it is the difficult journey, the process. But if God’s word is true and Jesus came to bring peace to all mankind how do we grasp our own little portion of peace when it seems so elusive?
It begins with a paradigm shift, a mindset that suddenly or slowly…appears.
Is it possible to find peace in the midst of a shattered and broken dream? Is it possible to find peace sitting in the midst of a fiery furnace, a lion’s den, or like Joseph, thrown into a pit, sold to Midianite traders, bought on the slave market, wrongly accused and thrown into prison? David running from Saul, and then, of course, there is Job? How many times have you found yourself longing for that missing peace in your heart? The peace that passes all understanding that Paul writes about in Phil 4:7.
What to do when the divorce will go through, cancer claims your loved one’s life, and the broken family remains broken, and Christmas? It’s coming! How do we find peace or contentment in difficult and trying circumstances, feeling all alone, helpless, and even hopeless at this time of year when holiday expectations are happy family, together, forever, and the dream shatters! Regardless of our status, pauper, president or otherwise, we will all experience a shattered dream or two.
The question is not if, but when? How then do we respond?
Option 1: Escape to the mountains and hide like Rip Van Winkle to avoid his nagging wife? He awakened after 20 years and encountered his grown son. His daughter takes him in where he continued his life of uninvolved idleness. Seems to me, poor ole Rip didn’t learn anything. I know people who go through difficult trials and learn nothing. I for one do not want to be one of them.
Option 2: Get demanding, difficult and judgmental, telling everyone else how they must behave for this family to work correctly. Both stances will land you in a trial that might be the makings of a shattered dream or the continuation of one already in progress.
Option 3: Let’s look at dreams. There are first order dreams and second order dreams. Second order dreams are good and healthy, natural longings of the heart to enjoy family, health, being appreciated and loved. First order dreams are different. When God ordered the universe, he ordered your life and mine. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit collectively work together to help us recognize our need and longing for God. When we can desire God as our first order dream more than our second order dream, the journey of encountering the God of the universe in our hot fiery furnace, or capsizing boat begins. It is an encounter with God that will replace the missing peace in our hearts, greater than any of these second-order dreams.
How so you ask? James 1:2 tells us, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” I’ve read that for years, and I think I might just be on the verge of grasping a little glimpse of understanding. I think part of the problem is we read James, and find it so unnerving; we never get past the first sentence. But if you have walked through some very difficult trials and have weathered a shattered dream or two, then hopefully you have gleaned a few gold nuggets of truth.
More than I want my dream fulfilled, I want to be the person God created me to be. I want to be as James says, “mature lacking nothing.” (James 1:4). I want God to reveal my fleshly desires, old unhealthy habits, patterns, and self-protective strategies I employed in childhood to protect my heart that are unbecoming as a mature, adult, child of God. James tells me persevering through the trials will bring me to that place, if I submit to what God is doing in me. As God delivered me from me, my first order dream began to surface. Now that’s worth shouting about. More than one trip through the valley of the shadow of death is a good way to learn to count it all joy. When all you have is Jesus, He becomes your missing peace.
I’ve discovered that in the wake of my journey and my shattered dream/s there has to be something bigger and better than what I lost. God is it. When I find my identity in Him, I find my purpose, when I find my purpose, I find my heart’s missing peace. I must believe he is working this all out for my greater good and His glory. Yes, even in the midst of my shattered dream, I look up and find God sitting in my fiery furnace with me, and He becomes my peace.
On this December, when there is plenty to be sad about, there is also ample opportunity to rejoice, as we try to find our missing peace. Imagine this: in 2 BC every Jew was watching for the long-awaited Messiah when Mary suddenly encounters Gabriel with the amazing news that she is THE ONE. And what about Simeon and Anna; both served in the temple for years waiting for Messiah. Simeon was old, but the Holy Spirit promised he would see the consolation of Israel. Simeon watched every parent with a firstborn male in the temple to offer the required sacrifice for years…years! When suddenly he knew, he just knew…Mary's baby was the long-awaited Messiah. Can you imagine? Have you longingly waited for something and it happened? Simeon waited for a very long time. I can get excited thinking about that!
So this season when there will be ample opportunity to find peace in the midst of turmoil, look long and hard at yourself, using the RARE acronym to help you manage your way through this holiday.
R – Remain relational; keep the relationship bigger than the problem;
A – Act like the person God created you to be;
R – Return to joy quickly – guard your heart against anger, envy, strife, and bitterness
E – Endure suffering well; this temporary affliction is producing in me an eternal weight of glory. II Cor.4:17.
Every event, every one of them is an opportunity for growth; to experience peace in the midst of the storm as you dig for a gold nugget. But you must be willing to receive the gold nugget God has for you, not the one you desire. Embrace your first order dream and you won’t be disappointed. Remember finding your identity in Him, reveals your purpose; finding your purpose fills in the missing Peace in your heart.
I would love to help you prepare, or even maneuver your way through the difficult terrain of this Christmas Season, or any other season you find yourself in. Let’s journey together to find your heart’s missing Peace, Jesus. Give me a call.
Carol Greenberg, MA, LPC #66952