It’s one of the great ironies of life—while many living things are hibernating or slowing down, we humans kick up the pace.
Everyone I’ve talked to is moving at break-neck speed. If there aren’t school activities, concerts, or sports events, there are heightened needs at work. All the while, the pressure to prepare for the holidays hangs persistently over everything. Where I live, many people started hanging Christmas decorations the day after Halloween.
Y’all, I love Christmas and its decor too, but we just aren’t there yet. Unless you’ve got family coming to celebrate both holidays, enjoy the one that’s nearest before plunging into the next one. Life goes by fast enough without attempting to rush ahead.
We are in such a hurry to get to the next holiday/vacation/weekend and we don’t understand why we are failing to find joy in today. We live life as though the “good life” is around the corner. The truth is, we aren’t even guaranteed the next bend in the road. I’ve seen so many unexpected deaths this past year and it’s sobering to realize that my own end could be nearer than I thought.
How do we find peace in the Lord when everything around us is moving at a such a rapid pace?
#1: Fix Your Heart on the Lord
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
– Psalm 46.10, ESV
This simple sentence contains two imperatives:
“Be Still”: Stop rushing to and fro, and be still. Stop scrolling through Facebook, and start reading His word. Take a break from the noise of this world and sit quietly in His presence.
If you have small children, do this as soon as they are asleep. If you are working in a high stress job, do this when you get a lunch or bathroom break. Just look for an opportunity and snatch it when it comes!
“Know that [He] is God”: He is powerful. He loves you. He is faithful. He will never leave you or forsake you. His mercies are new every morning.
Diligence, persistence, and hustle are great qualities for a worker, but every worker needs to rest each day in order to have the strength to continue working. Take time to be quiet before you even open your mouth in prayer. Spend a minute just considering the Father.
“You keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because He trusts in You.”
– Isaiah 26.3, ESV
Read each of the following items in this list and ask yourself, “Do I expect these to be around tomorrow? Next month? In 10 years?
- freedom to worship
- the strength and dominance of the United States
- the ability to work
- the existence of my local church
I’ll be honest, I take these things for granted far too often, expecting them to stick around forever. My children and I study quite a bit of history together, and I can assure you that there are millions of people in the past who depended on similar people and things. Their trust was in their own abilities and/or “the way things have always been.” Millions of people had their lives turned upside down due to regime changes, invading forces, and economic collapse. You yourself may have experienced job loss, deteriorating health, or the death of a loved one. It’s a shock when we lose what has been so constant in our lives for so long.
God, our Father, is not temporary. He doesn’t change. He doesn’t drop you for the next new follower. He cannot be overpowered, will not lose His mind, and always keeps His word. Even when all other “constants” are wiped away, He will remain.
Fix your mind and your trust on God.
#2: Clean Up Your Habits
Anxiety strikes even when we are working to fix our hearts on God. Improper diet, lack of exercise, and poor sleep habits can contribute the feeling of anxiety even when we have no external stressors. If you are plagued by nagging anxiety, try addressing at least one of these physical habits. Reduce or eliminate sugar. Limit caffeine. Go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier. Turn off the phone and spend time reading or praying before bed. Go for a 20-minute walk or do some stretching exercises.
Don’t neglect to spend time in prayer and the word. It’s so easy to do! If you need suggestions on how to add these into your daily life, check out a few of these posts:
#3: Practice Gratitude.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
– 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18, ESV
Discontentment breeds anxiety. We cannot be at peace if we always feel we are lacking.
Even if we lose everything in this life, God is our eternal inheritance. We always have a reason to be thankful.
Around November, people start writing down or posting something for which they are thankful for each day. It’s a great exercise, and one which we should probably practice year-round. When we are looking for reasons to be thankful, complaining drops dramatically. Instead of worrying about what we don’t have, we find peace in what we do have.
Give thanks in prayer.
Thank people for their kindness.
Write to the leadership in your church to thank them for their work in the Lord.
Send a text to a friend, family member, or spouse telling them how much you value them.
There are so many ways to practice gratitude, but it must be practiced daily or we slip into frustration and anxiety.
In the chaos of the holidays, it is often natural to feel overwhelmed. Make time each day to be still and recenter your heart on the One who is the source of peace. Whenever anxieties arise, offer them up to God.