My 3-year-old daughter loves doing puzzles. The only problem is that she also loves using the puzzle pieces for other games. This means frequently we are almost finished putting a puzzle together when we realize that we are missing a piece or two. It’s frustrating when you are missing the piece you need to complete the picture.

It’s frustrating when you are missing the ‘Peace’ you need in your life.

I love Christmas a lot, but it seems like the busyness of the Holiday season can often drown out the inner strength that we long for. The last thing I want for you or I is to sit down on January 2 and feel empty. Let’s look at 3 things that can rob you of Peace and how to counteract them with truth!

1 – When Busy replaces Being – The most common thief of peace during the Holidays is busyness. Some of the activities and events going on are enjoyable but they can also rob you of perspective. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and feel overwhelmed and stressed. It has been said that “the enemy of ‘being’ is ‘doing'”.

Don’t forget who you are. Don’t forget to be still. Sometimes the greatest position of worship is found in stillness. Are you taking the time to ponder that you are a child of God? Are you stopping to remember that Jesus came into the world to rescue you from strife and instead give you life? It’s easy to lose sight of what matters most. The peace that Jesus offers is found between the wind and waves where we learn to focus on his face.

2 – The Pain of The Past – Perhaps Christmas means more than presents and parties. Perhaps Christmas means painful reminders of childhood emptiness or missing loved ones. Holidays can be the time we enjoy family the most – if our family is actually enjoyable. If you have some family hurt Christmas can be anything but peaceful.

I imagine Joseph and Mary felt similar pain. How well do you think their families treated an unwed pregnant teen and an outlandish story about a divine conception? Did they treat Joseph with disdain and distrust? I think the story speaks for itself. In ancient culture traveling was an extended family affair. In addition, whenever you traveled to a town where you had relatives you would be welcomed to stay with them. But there was no room for them. No family relative would take them in. The fact that Joseph and Mary appear to be traveling alone and shut out from the homes of relatives indicates that their families wanted nothing to do with them.

They spent the first Christmas alone. Have you felt alone on Christmas? And yet, they clung to the same peace of God that the Angels announced. God had come to bring peace to all men. They may have been without family but the God who created all things was right there with them. Peace comes from embracing the presence of Jesus.

3 – The Disconnect between how God sees You and how you see Yourself. – Mary’s first response to the Angel’s announcement of Divine Conception with this question, “How can that be?”. I believe that, as much as she was referencing her virginity, she was contemplating her self-worth. How could a teenage girl, in the middle of a small town, from a tiny nation, who had little cultural significance be so significant in the eyes of God? How was it possible for her to mother the Messiah of God – the Savior of the World?

The Angel responded, “With God all things are possible”. You might think you are insignificant, too far gone, or far from greatness but with God all things are possible. God can overcome and redeem anything in your life. Where you see dead ends and unworthiness God sees wholeness and purpose. It was the peace of God that sustained Mary through the self-doubt and unworthiness. It was the peace of God that gave her the strength to step into a destiny beyond her abilities.

Mary’s response is the climax of the encounter, “I am the Lord’s servant. His will be done.” In that moment of both fear and faith, Mary decided to step into God’s will rather than run away. Perhaps without realizing it, she chose to believe that the pathway to peace is submission. Peace comes when we tell all other voices, influences, lies, and distractions to submit to God’s good and perfect will.

Whichever of these 3 robbers are trying to steal your peace right now, may you fix your eyes on Jesus, embrace his presence and submit to His plan for your life.

Merry Christmas! And may the peace of Christ rule in your hearts! (Col. 3:15)

-Josh