Advent 2023: Peace

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:4-9, NIV).

Peace is not the absence of anxiety or chaos; it is the transformative power of God’s grace in the midst of the storm.

We live in an age of frenetic energy, overstimulation and scattered senses. Politics, war, social media and all the loud voices tend to drown out our few, precious moments of quiet reflection. Peace is elusive. We often live with a sustained internal anxiety compounded by the external hostilities and conflicts that seem continually camping on our doorstep. But peace is not the absence of anxiety or chaos; it is the transformative power of God’s grace in the midst of the storm.

Recently it dawned on me that the little phrase in Philippians 4:5, “the Lord is near,” isn’t a superfluous insertion, but actually the key to understanding the whole of what follows. The peace of God can guard you because the God of peace is near. Peace is a Person: Jesus, our Prince of Peace. The presence of Jesus in our midst permits us to name the anxieties that plague our souls and present them into His capable hands. He equips us with thanksgiving to see beyond the dire circumstances that cause our grief and to trust in the goodness of God despite the chaos we see in the world. He empowers us with a gentle spirit; the ability to live peaceably with others in a world of strife.

A study by the Oxford University Press in 2004 discovered that these attributes—gentleness, gratitude, peace—actually change our brains and hearts at a physiological level. Our brains release dopamine and regulate cortisol, our hearts begin to beat with greater synchronization; the peace of God literally guards our hearts and our minds! In the midst of another chaotic holiday season and a time in our world filled with so many reasons to fear, may the peace of God—and the God of peace—draw near to you.

Prayer + reflection

  • Pray for peace in the world where there has been warfare and bloodshed.
  • Pray for peace internally where anxiety and fear have been in control.
  • Pray for those who don’t know Jesus to discover the Prince of Peace this Christmas.
is the mission mobilizer of the Central District of The Foursquare Church.