Each year, I pick a word to reflect upon during the new year. For 2017, the word I chose is Peace.
Why did I choose Peace as my word for 2017?
Who amongst us hasn't ever experienced a harried day? A day when everything goes crazy, the opposite, or oh-so-horribly wrong? Honestly, life can be undeniably messy. My life is no exception. Having diagnoses of autoimmune diseases, including one that is rare and attacks my neuromuscular system, makes each day different. I never know what my body will be able to do nor how fast it will give out. Add into the dynamics a teenaged son who has diagnoses of ADHD and Aspergers or what is now referred to as high functioning on the Autism Spectrum. Sensory processing, lack of social skills, and frustration can all cause him to have trouble processing the world around him which in turn can cause him to withdraw or need time out so he can calm down. I often find myself praying peace over him throughout our day. Lastly, my father has Vascular Dementia, which is the most difficult form. Those with Vascular Dementia often become easily agitated. When chaos is unrestrained by any or all of these circumstances, life can feel overwhelming and peace can appear to be elusive at times.
What exactly does Peace mean?
According to the Meriam Webster Dictionary, Peace is a "state of tranquility or quiet, a state of security and order, freedom from civil disturbance." This type of peace is synonymous with serenity, stillness, tranquility, accord, unity, calm, and quietness. The other two definitions of peace, to me, intimate a connectivity because one promotes the other. Merriam Webster Dictionary also describes peace as "freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions" as well as "harmony in personal relationships." When we feel peace within our souls, our relationships resonate with strength. These explanations of peace are synonymous with joy, love, sympathy, empathy, poise, happiness, gratification, comfort, patience, contentment, understanding, accord, renewal, reconciliation, restoration, friendship, goodwill, confidence, and hope.
What does God's Word have to say about Peace?
Now that I've defined what peace means, the next logical step is to see what the Bible has to say about peace. My hope is that in knowing how God views peace, I will gain insight into how peace is established.
"The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace." - Psalm 29:11 (NIV) Strength and peace are gifts from God.
"The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever." Isaiah 32:17 (NIV) Interestingly, John Wesley notes that this confidence isn't based on our accomplishments but rather on God's grace, mercy, and the fulfillment of his promises. (Wesley's Explanatory Notes Bible Commentary)
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 (NIV) What the world offers us is fleeting, uncertain, disheartening, and abhorrent. On the other hand, what God gives us is everlasting, unfailing, unshakeable, comforting, encouraging, and hopeful. May we persevere through life's storms trusting in the peace that Christ's blood purchased for us. (Paraphrased Wesley's Explanatory Notes Bible Commentary).
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NIV) When we are filled with joy and pain, there is no room for doubt and fear to grow. God through the hope and gift of eternal life and the restoring power of the Holy Spirit works in us to grant us this hope, joy, and peace. (Paraphrased Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible - Concise).
"And, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7 (NIV) The soothing comfort which reaches deep into our souls and that only God can bestow is unfathomable and incomprehensible. The Holy Spirit will protect our emotions, our devotion, our thoughts, and our perceptions because we dare to hope in God. (Paraphrased Wesley's Explanatory Notes Bible Commentary).
What am I hoping to gain as I'm focusing on the word Peace during the 2017 year?
I have already garnered valuable knowledge about peace from conducting the word study as well as the intense Bible search. Truthfully, I've always thought of peace as it relates to calm, quietness, and order. I had never thought of it in terms of understanding and patience. The more I ponder this new aspect of peace, I can see the benefits that this facet of peace has. For example, understanding my health conditions and how they effect me at certain times; my son's Autism and how overstimulation and frustration can cause him to "shut down"; and my father's dementia and how it must frustrate him to forget, to be unable to do tasks he used to do with ease, and to require assistance and guidance and how this frustration can cause him to become agitated will allow us to show more sympathy and empathy as well as be more patient. My goal is to apply what I've learned about peace to everyday life.
Furthermore, I want to make the time to be still, to sit in God's presence, and to soak in His wisdom and love. I want to be able to see through the chaos, jumble of emotions, chronic pain and illness, storms that life hurls our way and not only be confident in the hope that only God provides but also to see the blessings that God orchestrates from the restoration, the refining, the renewal that accompanies these trials. The way to be confident in His love, filled with His joy is to be wrapped in the comfort of His presence. Then, I am stronger even when I am weak because He is strong in me and is fighting my battles for me. Then, I am serene because His love flows in me and through me. Then, I can see the blessings and feel the peace that only comes from Him even as the storm rages in the world around me because He is the Light in the darkness and the absolute, inerrant Truth.
Find out what other words some of my homeschooling friends have chosen for the 2017 year by clicking on the picture below which will take you to The Homeschool Review Crew.