Sunday, December 23, 2012

A shooting at a school had a young mother going into panic attacks—months after the killings many miles away.

When the mother put the child in the bathtub at night, fear would almost paralyze her heart as she worried some crazed monster could take her child’s life, too. Watching her daughter play or skip off to school was torture. The mama wanted to keep the child near her all the time. But even then, worry so clouded her mind there was no joy or fun in their house.

The young lady shared her story with a group of young mothers and me while I served as a Mothers for Preschoolers mentor.

Saint John wrote, “Fear has torment.” Although our little group helped her some, the young mother ended up needing professional counseling.

At this time of year, we sing much about joy, comfort and peace. But now, not only is a nation mourning because of tragedy in an elementary school in Connecticut, I imagine every mother with a child in school from kindergarten through the highest college grades has a higher level of fear than before.

What of the peace the angels sang about in the hills of Judea when the Christ child was born? The angel said, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord….And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Peace? When it seems the world is on fire and at war? Peace, when half of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Peace? When it’s not safe anymore to walk in most cities at night? Peace, when there’s mass unemployment, diseases too numerous to mention? America divided and few seeming to love one another or God? Government sending us over the fiscal cliff?

What did it mean when the angels announced peace on earth and Jesus said He would give peace? As a Bible student and by experience I’ve learned the promise didn’t refer to nations but to peace in the hearts of men. That’s how Jesus has built His kingdom—in hearts in every nation, tribe and tongue.

Yet, I need to be honest. I’m a worrier and worry is the opposite of peace. Every new grandchild added to the family is another to worry about. My children teased me one time about my anxieties.

“The more creative you are,” I confessed with a grin, “the more things you can find to worry about.”

I learned something else about worry. God doesn’t make a practice of honoring creative worry. The majority of things I’ve worried about in my life never happened. Jesus told us not to worry about what might happen tomorrow. Experience taught me the truth of that. When I hit a real trial, such as the loss of our oldest daughter to cancer, I had supernatural peace. I went to sleep at night repeating Philippians 4:7: “The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” and I slept.

Yet I can’t borrow peace today for trials tomorrow. God’s peace comes only when we need it, and we have to ask for it and accept it.

Christmas is a good time to receive it.