Peace on Earth is Not Cancelled

A wall hanging at Hobby Lobby gripped my attention last week. The round, six-inch plaque simply said, “Peace on earth.” A cynical part of me scoffed, yeah right. What peace?

Is peace on earth even possible? We see anything but peace today – political unrest, rebellion against the things of God, religious liberty threatened, heightened family strife, brother against brother, riots and violence in the streets. Where is this peace He came to bring, I pondered. Yet that’s what the angels sang about, “Peace on earth, good will toward men(Luke 2:14).

Certainly the angels didn’t know about the year 2020!

I passed it by and went on to find what I went there for.

You see if I’m being honest, I’ve felt a bit bah humbug in recent years, so it’s not the kind of Christmas message I would place in my home. “A Savior is born” or “silent night” maybe, but “peace on earth” and “joy to the world” seem a bit out of reach. Christmas has become complicated for me. With family gone or living far away, missing my kids and grand kids overrides the joy I used to feel at Christmas. I know many feel the same, and for more reason than I have.

Consequently, the sound of Christmas carols makes me feel sad, so it was ironic that the small plaque prompted the old carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” to ring non-stop in my head.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

The writer of the carol, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, knew Christmas sadness well. His wife had died in a fire and his son had been severely injured in the Civil War shortly before writing his original poem in 1863. He wrote stanzas* about the war, which are not often sung. One in particular is fitting today:

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Yeah, that’s it – “hate is strong and mocks the song.” Currently, “civil war” is trending on Twitter.

Yet, it seems he had found hope in the next stanza:

Then peeled the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

“Wrong shall fail. The right prevail.”

Perhaps he was thinking of Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.” Or Psalm 75:10, “I will break the strength of the wicked, but I will increase the power of the godly.” 

God is good and He is just. (click to tweet)

Let’s look at Jesus’ names as referred to in Isaiah 9:6:

  • Wonderful (pete) – astounding wonders; extraordinary; not understood by human reasoning (Psalm 139:6). He is full of wonder in His judgment and redemption. By His grace and mercy He fulfills our deepest desires for love and acceptance.
  • Counselor (yaats) – advisor, consultant, guide. What wonderful comfort, wisdom and guidance we can receive because of our Counselor, our helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), who knows and loves us completely (Psalm 139:16, Matthew 10:30).
  • Mighty (gibbor) God (el) – the mightiest, champion, valiant, mighty warrior, power. He is the “God of Heaven’s Armies,” or “Lord of Hosts,” as He is referred to many times in scripture. He is victory! No wonder the Apostle Paul said God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
  • Everlasting (ad) Father (ab) – perpetual, continual, forever, eternal; sonship, family. In Jeremiah 31:3 He said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Once grafted into His family by way of Jesus Christ, His loving fatherhood and our sonship is eternal and cannot be revoked (John 10:28). What peace that should provide us!
  • Prince (sar) of Peace (shalom) – chief, captain, ruler, in charge; welfare, soundness, completeness, friendship and safety. Romans 5:1 tells us it is because our faith has justified us that we can have peace, and that peace is through Jesus Christ our Lord. Through His Holy Spirit we can have all the fruits of His Spirit (Galatians 6:9), and one of those is peace.

We wouldn’t need peace if things weren’t so turbulent. We wouldn’t need light if it weren’t so dark. We wouldn’t need hope if things weren’t so despairing this side of Heaven. But we won’t find peace, light or hope in this fallen, sin-sick world. That’s why Jesus came, and that’s why we need His supernatural, eternal peace, light and hope to fill our hearts by His Holy Spirit.

Many people cannot go home to be with loved ones this Christmas because of travel and social restrictions. “I’ll be home for Christmas” has taken on new meaning. But if we’re looking for “home” to give us peace and joy, we will be disheartened. Christmas isn’t really about being with our family, but the miracle of being in God’s family in His eternal home (salvation) and all the inheritance of inner peace and joy that provides (Ephesians 1:18). When our faith and hope are in the eternal, we can have peace and joy in the midst of our temporary trials (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Because of Jesus, we can have peace, not necessarily peace for our nation or the world or our circumstances, but peace between us and God. Peace beyond our understanding through His Holy Spirit in the midst of trials (Philippians 4:6-7). Peace at Christmas in spite of circumstances.

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Passed by but not forgotten, that small plaque coerced me to go back and purchase it to remind myself, peace on earth is possible – peace in me while I’m on this earth. May the peace of His kingdom come in me and in you (Matthew 6:10), because we will need His inner peace beyond Christmas in the days ahead. (click to tweet)

I pray you hear the bells. I pray they ring louder than the world’s fury. May their sweet song repeat in your heart, peace on earth, good will toward men.

As for me, I almost lost my peace, but I’m beginning to hear those bells again. I needed the reminder of God’s true peace. Turns out I was looking for it in all the wrong places. Funny thing I found it at Hobby Lobby.

How about you? I’d love to hear how you’re finding peace and joy this Christmas in spite of the 2020 craziness?

Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending us the Prince of Peace. Forgive us when we look at the things of this world instead of Your peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Help us to keep our eyes on You so we won’t sink in despair (Matthew 14:30). Let Your kingdom of peace come in me (Matthew 6:10). Let Your peace reign in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). For you will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You (Isaiah 26:3). Thank you that You have already won the victory! (1 John 5:4) In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Have a listen to Casting Crowns’ version of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” The song uses verses 1, 6, 7 and 3 of the original poem, with their added chorus. It will bless you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7670CXvPX0&list=RDM7670CXvPX0&start_radio=1

 

Looking for a gift everyone can use? Give the gift of peace through prayer. Our families, our country and our world need our prayers. Find out more here.

Pursuing Prayer is available on Amazon or anywhere books are sold.

Also, receive the free pdf “Ten Prayer Tips for Busy Days” here.

 

 

*The following is the original Longfellow poem of 1863, which was put to music in 1872 and has been sung many different ways since.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

 

10 Comments

  1. Denise Hatch on December 16, 2020 at 11:45 am

    What a wonderful reminder + I needed it! Why do we let the world around us, it’s lack of peace, joy and His very presence, be the greatest voice we hear? It just shows me how very much I need to be in His presence + not distracted because all of it is in Him! He has given it all to us in Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. Thank you for reminding me I need to change my perspective.
    Merry Christmas, Penny!



  2. Loretta Beasley on December 16, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    Wonderful and “real.”



  3. Penny Cooke on December 16, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks, Loretta. Been struggling for years, and of all years to get my peace back! lol



  4. Penny Cooke on December 16, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    So easy to let the world’s voice shout over His still small voice, isn’t it? His voice may be softer, but it IS stronger! Merry Christmas to you too, Denise!



  5. Karen Casassa on December 18, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Thanks, Penny! This may be my favorite blog too!



  6. Sarah Carswell on December 18, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    Beautiful article.
    I hesitated to even put up a tree this year. Feeling sick and having a diagnosis even the doctors call complicated. But, my husband insisted and did most of the work. After he turned on the tree lights I realized that it’s just what I needed. The memories and gentle healing lights from the tree flooded me with God’s joy.
    How could I not celebrate Christmas, my saviors birth.
    Cutting out the negativity is not easy but praising and praying fights it for us.
    Thank you Penny for sharing your beautiful words of healing.



  7. Penny Cooke on December 18, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Thank YOU for sharing your healing words, Sarah! Yes, praising and praying does fight it! May you have a most blessed Christmas! Hugs and prayers…



  8. Penny Cooke on December 18, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks so much, Karen. I knew I had to write about it when I found that plaque, and I kept tearing up as I wrote it. Something’s got a hold of me this year…lol. Merry Christmas, Karen!



  9. Jeanne Labonte on December 19, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Your blog really hit home for me… Thank you



  10. Penny Cooke on December 19, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you, Jeanne, I’m so glad it helped someone other than just me. Have a wonderful Christmas!



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