ADVENT 2: Piece of Mind or Peace of Mind?

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If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18  (NIV)

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

I almost blew it one Sunday evening.

I almost made a bad situation worse, a complicated situation more complicated.

The temptation was strong. My words and actions would’ve been justified—so I thought at that moment.

While I can’t give the details of what happened, I can say this: I was ready to give someone whose behavior was offensive—and had long been offensive—a piece of my mind. I’d kept my mouth shut far too long, I reasoned. Enough was enough.

Before I picked up the phone, though, I took a prayer timeout. I slipped into my bedroom, shut the door, dropped to my knees, and poured out my anger, frustration, and pain to my heavenly Father. The battle between what I wanted to do and what I knew I should do—what God would want me to do—was intense.

The needle gauge on my faith tank was pointing to Empty. Faith that God would answer my prayers for change, for healing for the persons involved, for a transformation of heart, mind, and spirit—something only God can do.

I left my prayer room still shaken, still trembling with emotion, clinging to something called self-control for all I was worth.

Over the next week, I had time to reflect on what happened, and I realized several things.

I can’t control another person’s words or actions, however hurtful they are, or their impact and consequences. I can only control, with God’s help, my own actions and reactions, which should reflect the growing fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,  goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Acting in the heat of the moment, succumbing to pressure, saying words that can’t be unsaid, doing something than can’t be undone, is never the right choice. What is the right choice is taking the situation in all its ugliness, your emotional turmoil, and your jumbled thoughts to God. It’s never right to give a person, however offensive they are, a piece of your mind. It is right to set firm boundaries and let them know, in a loving way, where those boundaries are.

Convincing another person they’re wrong is not my job. I need to remind myself often what Billy Graham one said: “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” Even when loving is hard. Even when there’s no love left in your heart for that person. Even when you don’t even want to allow God to love that person through you.

I can’t always be the peacemaker, no matter how hard I try. But I can pray for God’s peace to prevail—in the situation and in my own heart, mind, and spirit. I can pray that my negative emotions shrivel and die, crowded out by the love, joy, and peace that come from God.

Sometimes we have to live with the thorn in the flesh, but God’s grace is all we need to endure and triumph over it (2 Corinthians 12:9).

And finally, God reminded me of another impossible situation, many years ago, that I thought would never change—another person who was a thorn in my flesh for a long time despite my prayers. In His time and in His way, God worked a miracle, and that person was transformed.

Tomorrow is the Second Sunday of Advent, when we light the candle of Peace. While we have little control over external peace—or the lack of it—we do have control over our own inner peace. It’s simply a matter of submitting to the Prince of Peace.

As I light the second Advent candle, Lord, may Your peace prevail in my heart, mind, and spirit—and be a beacon of light in a hurting world that so needs Your peace. Amen.

Read and reflect on 2 Corinthians 12:7–10.

NOTE: I wrote this several years ago, and I can’t even remember whom I was upset with or what the situation was. That’s how God answers our prayers. Isn’t He just awesome?

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons­, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.



Dealing with Uncertainty

Read and reflect on Romans 8:26–39.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. –Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV

I keep in touch with a number of high school classmates on Facebook. One of them recently posted his thoughts on the uncertainty of the times:

“You can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, you can.”

“Stores are closed, except those that are open.”

“Gloves won’t help, but they can still help.”

“The virus has no effect on children except those it affects.”

“You will have many symptoms when you are sick, but you could be sick without symptoms, or have symptoms without being sick.”

Confused? I think we all are. Even the experts. While they’re trying to understand COVID-19, it seems this virus has a mind of its own and outwits them at almost every turn.

The only certainty these days, it seems, is uncertainty.

But despite all the ambiguity and uncertainty, there are things of which we can we certain.

I don’t know about you, but faith gives me certainty amid the uncertainty because it gives me focus. And I choose to focus on God:

First, I believe GOD IS IN CONTROL, and He knows what He’s doing. I don’t believe He sent the virus, but He’s using it to draw people to faith—saving faith and deeper faith. I believe He has a plan and purpose for everything, and will work all things together for good (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28). Circumstances may be out of our control, but they are never out of God’s.

Second, I believe GOD IS FAITHFUL. He always does what He says He will do. You can trust Him completely. He is a promise maker and a promise keeper. The Bible is full of His promises. I recently started a Promise Journal in which I write the promises I find in God’s Word. I choose to focus on the faithfulness of God, not the numbers, the shortages, or the disease. Because I’ve experienced God’s faithfulness in the past, I can trust Him in the present and for my future.

Finally, I believe GOD SEES ME, HEARS ME, AND LOVES ME. That’s why, in times of need, I can go boldly, not timidly, to His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). And if that old enemy, doubt, comes sneaking around and tries to mess with my mind and heart, I whip out the sword of Psalm 139 (and other verses) and wield it. The Word of God is active and powerful, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Resist doubt and it will flee (James 4:7).

Despite the uncertainty of these days, I can be certain of God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and love.

And so can you.

Almighty God, thank You for the certainty You give me during these uncertain times. Thank You that I can cling to Your Word and have peace amid the pandemic. Amen.

EXTRA TEA: Job 38–41; 42:1–6;

Isaiah 55:8–11; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Philippians 4:4–8; Isaiah 49:15–16; Zephaniah 3:17

© 2020 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.