Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. 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. ~ Philippians 4:1-7
You may think these strange verses to focus on concerning peace. During the Christmas season we usually run into one or more people who push all our wrong buttons. It may be a family member, friend, acquaintance, or even someone in the check-out line in a department store. No matter where you find them, the struggle can be real.
I am sure Mary and Joseph struggled as they made a home for Jesus as well. They must have expressed great frustration as the inn keeper told them the inn was full. The hay was probably scratchy and the shepherds smelled. They may have even gotten a little frustrated with a braying donkey or a mooing cow.
No matter the characters in your present day struggle, the truths from these verses can help us make it through. They were written to a group of people who were not “getting along.” Paul instructed them to rejoice in the Lord always. Then he repeated, “rejoice” or have joy.
Your peace and contentment can’t be dependent on others or the perfect situation. If a barn is where He sends you, find joy even in the stable. Make your requests known to God through prayer with thanksgiving.
Now that can prove to be a challenge especially when nerves and personalities are on edge. Choose thanksgiving anyway. There is always something to be thankful for. As you pray with thanksgiving, your anxieties and even frustrations can take a back seat as the Peace of God that passes all understanding guards your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
As Mary and Joseph trusted God, He provided everything they needed—even peace through the very Son they held. God was in control then, and He is in control now.
Commit your difficult people and situations to Him in prayer and let Him give you peace.
Excerpted from A Missional Christmas: 28 Days from Overwhelming to Unforgettable by Page and Les Hughes. Available now for Kindle download ($4.99) and print version ($9.99).