Peace Be With You

By niNe. magazine Speaker and Ministry Director: Alicia Hayes

I had an outline for this blog and I had to scrap it. I had to start from scratch because my heart was broken yesterday and I didn’t know how to write about peace. I am writing this the day after the gruesome school shooting in Pakistan that left 145 people dead.

Faith21BlogPeaceBeWithYouWordpressUpon reading an article in the New York Times on the shooting, I had to walk around the park by my house for 30 minutes. Trying to pray and not to cry, I attempted to process this tragedy. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best prayer I can pray is “One hundred forty-five people…” Those families deserve my tears, and I’m not supposed to be able to process something so horrific. I decided to write about it because I figured you might be struggling with this news too. You may be afraid of the future, frustrated with political agendas on the news surrounding the event or simply grieved by the death of 145 people. In the meantime, people are still purchasing peppermint mocha lattes, wrapping gifts, singing songs about joy – the festivity of the season can look very disconnected.

I understand being in the Christmas season and struggling to find peace. I understand on so many levels. I know that many of you may be struggling to find peace this season for a multitude of reasons. I understand. This Christmas I’m trying to process the death of 145 people. Last Christmas, I had been dumped. The Christmas before, I was trying to process a man killing children in Sadie Hook. That same Christmas I had heard that my father’s best friend’s cancer had returned. Ten years ago we found out that my father’s cancer was terminal. I understand not being able to find peace on various levels, for different reasons. It’s hard. When everything speaks to the contrary of “Peace on earth” it’s really difficult to believe in the Prince of Peace.

Knowing that Jesus was not spared hardship because He was God is what gives me hope at a chance for peace. Jesus was born during the reign of the Roman Empire – historically speaking one of the most oppressive governments ever. Mary and Joseph had to take a very strenuous journey to Bethlehem. The shepherds had been chosen to receive incredible, life-giving news, only to still be pushed aside in society. The wise men had to choose to severe any connection with King Herod. Herod was jealous of a child, and out of hatred ordered a mass killing of children. Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt and live as foreigners for two years in a country where they didn’t know any customs or even the language. When they returned to Israel, they lived in Nazareth, a town that had a bad reputation. Because no one knew that Mary conceived miraculously, no one knew if she had become pregnant with Joseph or another man. Pharisees held this over Jesus as an adult (John 9:29), which leads me to personally believe that He was not always treated kindly during his childhood and adolescence. These were circumstances that surrounded Jesus’ entry into the world. I’m not even speaking about the hardships He faced during His ministry. Jesus was not a stranger to confusion, difficulties and frustrations. Yet in the midst of all this, angels still insisted that there would be “Peace on earth, goodwill towards men.”

The peace that I can gather from this story is that Jesus Christ was tangible, flesh and blood, and understands your plights. He does not dismiss your fears or frustrations. He kindly comforts you by saying, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”(John 14:27) There ‘s peace in a God that understands you, and peace that He’s not OK with the pain of this world. He’s coming back and He’ll make all the wrongs right. There’s peace that, because of Jesus, we can have a relationship with God where we can express our fears, frustrations and grief – and He cares.

My heart was broken yesterday. It’ll still be broken next week. But I have peace because I know that Jesus can heal my heart, along with the hearts of all the families that lost someone. I have peace because Jesus is an incredible, tangible, real example of compassion that I can look to for guidance. During the holiday season, I know that it’s not easy to find peace. But we want to encourage you that there is peace in Jesus. Tweet to us @niNeMag with #9encourages and we’ll tweet you back a prayer for peace. If you would rather contact us privately, email us at editor@ninemagazine.org. Merry Christmas, and peace be with you.

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Believe in YOU

Blog - Believe ImageThe signage of the season playfully reads “Believe.” Yes, as Christians it’s easy to translate this message focused on Santa Clause to mean we believe in Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the world. But, I’d like to propose to you this Christmas, that you don’t redirect the meaning toward Jesus, instead, direct it toward yourself.

BELIEVE in yourself. You are beautiful. Believe that you are talented, smart and strong. Trust that you are filled with dignity and integrity. Know that you are admired and an inspiration to others. Believe that you are loved and you are worthy of that love. Trust that God created you as a wonderful sister, friend and daughter – His daughter. He molded you and made you unique. Understand that you are accepted for who you are, because of WHOSE you are! You are His and He desires for you to know your value and worth. God does so much for you every day to reveal His deep, intimate love for you.

Since you have a special place in God’s heart, He has given you a special role. He has crafted you for a specific job. You must believe that you are capable of performing that task. God will equip you, guide you and provide for you as you journey forward with your call. He has called you to do something significant, not something small. Trust that you are valuable enough to carry on that calling. Your path is extraordinary, believe that you too are extraordinary and deserve this incredible opportunity. The Lord loves you and is excited to see you succeed – but first, you must believe in yourself, believe in your God and believe in His desires for the world, then you can believe in His Will!