Summary: Peace begins in the heart, and is not imposed from outside, for discord also begins within; but in a committed relationship there is a matrix for genuine peace.
It had been a long, tiring day. A day full of frustrations. Plans so carefully laid in the morning had been forcefully set aside by evening. Good intentions for a day of accomplishment had been ruthlessly destroyed by many intrusions. Now it was night, and cold, and lonely. No one around. No one to listen to the day’s pain. Just trudging on, under a star-lit sky, doing what had to be done, but doing it with anxiety and worry about what tomorrow might bring. It had been a long, tiring, frustrating day.
And so when I got home that night, I sat down and wept a little. I ventilated my feelings about nothing in particular and everything in general. It was not the kind of day I had wanted. It was not the sort of day I had planned. It didn’t go according to my specifications, so I wept a little.
Into my weary heart came a sentence that someone had used earlier in the week. That person had been dealing with a very difficult situation, and summed it up by saying, “Satan sure is busy around here.” I felt that same thing. Now I am not one to run around blaming everything on Satan, but sometimes it’s the only explanation that seems to work. I thought about how, on the very heels of something wonderful that had happened to that person, she had entered tremendous conflict. It made sense for her to say, “Satan sure is busy around here.” I thought about how, when someone else had made such great strides forward in dealing with life issues, suddenly he had fallen backwards. It made sense to say, “Satan sure is busy around here.” I remembered the time and emotion and money some of us had invested in helping another person make progress, but suddenly he had turned suspicious. What else do you say but, “Satan sure is busy around here?” I wept a little that night. It had been a long, tiring day. A frustrating day. And I wanted peace. I just wanted peace.
So where does peace begin? Where do we get peace and when and how? When the things for which we work do not come, and anxiety takes over, where does peace begin? When the people in whom we invest turn against us, where does peace begin? When the things we care the most about are shredded, and anger rises within us, where are we going to find peace?
I invite you today to watch and see how God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven. I invite you today to the crib-side of the prince of peace, there to discover where peace begins.
Where does peace begin? First, peace begins at exactly the same place where non-peace begins – in our own hearts. If we are going to look for peace, we cannot expect somebody just to hand it to us. Peace arises from within. Peace will come from inside. Peace begins inside our own hearts because that is also where non-peace begins.
Let me look at that negative side. The discord side.
When things are not going well, we start to think that it’s all about us. When there’s trouble, it’s all about us. Either we blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong, or we blame others and think they are out to get us. Either way, the issue is that discord and unrest have come from inside. Discord comes from the way we handle the challenges that others throw at us.
Have you ever been the victim of injustice? Oh, that boss of yours, he just has it in for you! That teacher in your school, she never has liked you! That neighbor – everything you do makes him unhappy. You’ve been the victim of injustice. There’s somebody, somewhere, that doesn’t like you and won’t let go.
Now the issue is that we let that get to us. We let injustice take us over. When somebody attacks us, instead of shrugging if off, we halfway believe what they say. We take that malice to heart.
When that happens, who wins? When I let others’ attacks get to me, who wins the battle? Well, I surely don’t. My enemy wins. And Satan wins. Satan gets busy and tempts us to buy into the garbage that others throw out at us. So the discord begins inside our own hearts. If we don’t have peace, it is not so much what others do to us, but with how we perceive what they do, and how we take it in and own it and let it inside.
So the psalmist is right on target when he urges:
Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers, for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.