Christmas is all about giving gifts—and that can be difficult sometimes when you don’t have a clue what to give. I guess you’ve had that happen as I have.
My wife has a much better idea of what to buy. None of us like to receive a Christmas present that is useless. A survey was done in the US about Christmas gifts. They found that fruitcake was chosen mostly as the worst holiday gift. Just give a Christmas cake if you can’t think of anything else!
The Best Gift For Christmas
I like fruitcake actually, but 31% of those surveyed said it’s worse than no gift at all. How about that! Nineteen percent said they would hide the unwanted gift away in a cupboard, and 40% said they would give it away to someone else. Be aware of your next party and anyone who brings fruitcake.
I am wondering what is the best gift of all to give at this Advent season? I suggest it would be the gift of inner peace. Peace—what a big topic this is. A British psychiatrist once said: “With peace in his soul a man can face the most terrifying experiences. But without peace he cannot manage even as simple a task as writing a letter.”
For when a person is at peace with God, then all the other relationships can be worked out satisfactorily. When there is peace in the heart, there can be peace in the home. And if nations are living at peace, our world can experience peace. But at a personal level, we can be so busy achieving things, we miss out on inner peace. And what are we really achieving?
The Gift Of Inner Peace
Wouldn’t it be terrific if this Christmas you can say, The best gift of all was my discovery of inner peace. Imagine the treasure of being content with who you are, and what you’ve got in life. No more wanting that extra something to make life really worthwhile.
The Apostle Paul was one amazing human being, etched into history as God’s appointed man. Even though his life was anything but peaceful, he put up with persecutions, jail, being beaten, going without food, and being shipwrecked. But he could still write these words: “I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without” (Philippians 4:12, The Voice).
Paul’s experience is a great example of the Bible’s explanation of inner peace—a satisfaction, a coping strategy, and an optimism in spite of what’s going on around us. Often we miss out on peace—we look in the wrong places.
Christmas Can Be A Time Of Loneliness
Neil Warren wrote a good book, Finding Contentment. He says many people seek contentment through what he calls ‘happiness highs’. We leapfrog from one activity to another, addicted to finding happiness in what we do, or the relationship we have with somebody else. In the end, all we find is frequent boredom, emptiness, frustration, or loneliness.
And Christmas is one of the worst times of the year for loneliness and frustration. We try to fill up our lives with ‘stuff’ to give us some meaning. But activities and things don’t fill the emptiness in our souls. We were meant for more. And this Christmas is a good time to remind you that Jesus matters more than anything else.
We celebrate Christmas with gifts—and there’s nothing wrong with that. But buying and exchanging gifts—even the most expensive ones—will not substitute for a meaningful peace that comes from God through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said this in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.
The Secret To Inner Peace
Inner peace for the Christian is not the absence of pain and struggle—but the confidence that God is with us in the daily struggles of life, fighting our battles with us and intervening on our behalf. This divine peace is the best Christmas gift of all. A truly rich and worthwhile gift.
The secret for finding inner peace is to believe that Jesus really is involved with us in the challenges we face, and to turn over to him all these situations—to admit we can’t handle them on our own. Inner peace is not a feeling or emotional high. Instead, it’s a choice to trust Jesus, not only at Christmas, but every day of the year. You may want to chase short-term solutions. But unfortunately there’s no lasting peace in all that.
There is a peace that is not dependent on anything in this world—not money, not friends, not decorations, nothing in all this creation. The peace that endures even when all of life is crashing down on us—when our best laid plans have gone down the tubes again, when all seems to conspire against us—is found not in this world, but rather has come from heaven.
Peace Be With You!
It is God’s Christmas peace. This is what the angels announced to those fear-filled shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:14). In the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah prophesied about Jesus (in early 700s BC) and called him the ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6).
You can go to the most peaceful places on earth and seek serenity, but not peace. You can attend meditation classes every week to rest your body, but not find peace. Once you’re back in reality, you face the same stresses and the troubles of life.
Jesus wants to give you peace! The first words that Jesus said to his disciples after his death were “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19) They were confused and in fear, hiding behind locked doors; Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
Jesus was prophesied as the Prince of Peace.
The sense of those words goes beyond just a casual greeting. Jesus was imparting to them the peace they badly needed. And the amazing thing is that his presence itself brings that peace. They saw him and they felt comforted!
It’s like a child at play in the playground. She turns to look back as often as she can, to see if her father is standing nearby, watching over her. It really does not matter if the playground is good or big—what matters is that the father is there. If the father walks away, she will cry out to him. If she cannot see the father, there is no peace of heart to play.
Listen to the advice the Apostle Paul gives to the church in Philippi:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)