Thanksgiving. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read or hear that word? Is it a day, a family meal, or perhaps a specific menu of foods? Is it an attitude that comes and goes based on how you feel? Or is it a way of life which flows from you regardless of your circumstances? These devotions I will be sharing this month were originally written throughout November 2019 and then edited/updated during the summer of 2020 for a 31 day devotional journal, “The Heart of Thanksgiving: Living a Life of Thankfulness”. I will be re-sharing them here this month to encourage each of us to pursue a greater spirit of thankfulness in all we do.
Here is day nine with an important reminder that living with a heart of thanksgiving should cause us to be thankful for the peace that only God can give.
Thankful for Peace
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. “
Colossians 3:15 (NIV)
Today I am thankful for a peace that is found in Christ. As I think about the complexities of life, I would have to conclude that peace is not a natural product of living in this world. In fact, Jesus said that we would have trouble in this world, so to expect otherwise would be rather misguided. Thankfully, that is not all He said — He went on to tell us to “take heart, for I have overcome the world!” The peace that I am thankful for is found not in the absence of conflict, but rather in the midst of it. It is a peace that comes by choice, not by circumstance lining up correctly. This peace for which I am thankful is the result of a decision to “let the peace of Christ rule” in my heart, in my mind, in the very depths of my being.
While this type of peace is indeed something to be thankful for, being thankful is one of the keys to finding such peace. Just as living life in a body that is at war with itself is a very difficult thing (and I’ve lived many years in that condition), a body of believers that is not at peace with one another is a painful thing to endure and a poor witness for others to see. Since the body of Christ is made up of people, and people live with differing opinions, likes, and desires; the peace that we are called to can only come when we choose to first let the peace of Christ rule in us as an individual.
When the peace of Christ rules in me, then I have the freedom to be thankful for the people around me. In combination with God’s peace, thankfulness leads to a greater peace with one another. Years ago, when I would lead a fifth and sixth grade camp week each year, I would tell my team that the first step in conflict resolution among the campers was to have them pray for each other. While we can mouth the words with little to no impact on our attitude, to genuinely pray with thanksgiving for a person we are in conflict with will assuredly change our attitude toward them. A time of prayer may not change our opinion, or theirs, but it will begin to shift our focus away from the differences we have and toward the One who made peace with God possible even while we were still living as His enemies.
As you pray, ask God to help you let His peace rule in your life. Pray that you would seek peace and be thankful for its presence in whatever measure it may begin. Pray for a greater awareness of how God has connected you to the body of Christ and to the individuals who are a part of that body.
I pray that you and I would choose to be thankful as we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. I pray that the thankfulness and peace we have with Christ would overflow into a unity of the body that He calls us to.