The Gift of Peace

woman sitting on sand

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  So shall (the priests) put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”  Numbers 6:24-27  (ESV)

Familiar words – the benediction Aaron and his priestly descendants were to speak to God’s people.  Is this a pious wish or does it convey something significant?  First off, these are God’s words and God’s directive to speak them; so familiarity should not diminish their impact. This is God putting his name on his people.  He did that in your baptism, and he renews that truth with the benediction when you meet him in worship.  You belong to him.  This is your God promising his blessing and his protection from evil.  He is smiling at you and reminding you of his grace – the very reason he sent his Son to be your Savior. And he is giving you peace.

When the boss looks up from the report detailing the problem for which you’re responsible and his face says “we’re good,” you breathe a sigh of relief.  If your spouse cups your face in her hands and looks at you with love, whatever was bothering you doesn’t seem so important.   Smile at your child after he’s done something wrong, and the forgiving love in that smile calms his anxious heart.  All that and more is what the benediction conveys.  The Lord lifts up his countenance upon you and gives you peace.

Here’s the thing about a gift like peace.  You just accept it.  Swallow your pride and quit telling God you can handle your problems yourself.  Drop the false humility that says, “I don’t deserve so great a gift.”  You don’t.  He gives you peace for his reasons. Stop the tug-of-war in which you alternate between enjoying God’s peace and agonizing over your troubles.  He really is God, and you’re not, so let him deal with stuff you can’t.  He really does love and forgive you, so quit agonizing over the past and stressing over the present.  Peace – it’s real, and the baby born to Mary grew up to give you that peace.  Let the tension in your life drain away every time you hear the benediction as you leave God’s house.  Peace be with you.
Smile on me, gracious Lord, that I may see you in the midst of my problems and feel your love when I don’t know what to do next.  Give me peace when others are giving me grief.  Make peace the gift I re-gift to those around me in this season of the Christ-Child.  Amen.  

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