I was giving my two sons a bath, happily humming a tune as I scrubbed away the dirt and grime that could only be accumulated by young boys. As I neared the chorus, three-year-old Luke piped up, “Mommy, what we really need right now is some peace and quiet.” It’s a miracle that I did not fall into the bathtub after being hit between the eyes by the Mack truck of irony. THEY needed peace and quiet? My mind did a quick montage of the past few years, a phantasmagoria of all the times my head slammed down on the table as my three young children took turns whining, crying, and screaming and I anxiously watched for our neighbors’ houses to go up for sale. Even with the imprint of the table fresh on my forehead, it never occurred to me that our children desired peace as much as I did.
After having three children in the span of four years, I wasn’t expecting peace and quiet, and I sure didn’t get any by wishing for it. All of our children are highly sensitive , which is great when they are older, but extremely challenging during the formative years. Highly sensitive people reflect before they act, so they are often labeled as “shy” when they are merely observing. Since they feel emotions very deeply and cry easily, even from seeing someone else cry, they need to be handled very gently. This means that I have to work extra hard at keeping everyone, including myself, peaceful. Yes, that’s right; peace takes work.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
In Galatians 5:22, “peace” is listed as a fruit of the spirit. If only this could be like the traditional fruit basket, which shows up one day as a gift in the mail, enticing us to come eat of its appetizing abundance. We can’t just look at peace as if it is an apple that we can select and devour whenever we want to enjoy it. Peace is an end result of spiritual and righteous living. It is not something that we can choose separately from the other spiritual fruit listed in Galatians. When we strive diligently to live a life that is pleasing to God, we get the complete package–peace, joy, love, and so on. It’s more like that ubiquitous fruitcake–the same one that has been passed around the world since the Middle Ages in the spirit of re-gifting. Any way you slice it, one piece of fruitcake will provide a variety of fruit (even if it does look left over from the 15th century). When we get our lives on the right track with God, we not only have inner peace, but a plethora of other delicious benefits.
Mealtimes are not always peaceful in our household. For one thing, there is almost always a complaint from one child about the food selection. I recently watched a film version of A Christmas Carol, and my jaw hit the floor during the scene where Mrs. Cratchit brings the Christmas dinner to the table. With the presentation of each course, the salivating family members erupted into cheers and appreciative applause. “That’s so nineteenth century,” I thought cynically. “That would never happen today.” Nevertheless, the scene boosted my self-confidence; I somehow convinced myself that I would witness the same sort of jubilant reception the next evening at the dinner table. Proving that pride really does go before the fall, I had barely rounded the corner with the meal when I heard, “I’m not eating that.” Then another tiny voice screeched, “Why do you always make something I hate?” An all-out temper tantrum ensued (from the kids, not me), and frankly, I found myself getting irked by Mrs. Cratchit, the Martha Stewart of the Dickens era. I should have rejoiced with her that her children were so thankful and peaceful at the dinner table, but instead I resented her and her fabulous figgy pudding. The fact that she is a fictional character made me feel all the more ridiculous, but at least I finally understood the following:
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Even though our kids create much of their own chaos, they eventually seek inner peace. After they have a meltdown, they invariably come to me for comfort. Our two year old, Nate, has daily morning temper tantrums as faithful as the sunrise. Yet afterwards, he pleads with me in his adorable toddler lisp to come ‘thnuggle on the couch.” I can tolerate the tantrums, knowing that they will culminate with precious snuggling time.
Sometimes I don’t understand, however, why my kids whine and cry and give me a headache, and then come to ME to provide peace. Could it be that we are all just like that with God? Thankfully, He doesn’t get migraines, but He does tolerate us creating our own mess, whining about it, and then asking Him for peace.
Every church epistle begins with the message of “grace and peace” from God and Jesus. Isn’t that just like a parent, having to repeat something a million times, hoping that eventually it will sink in? The Bible is full of examples of God’s desire for us to have peace. In the Old Testament, He revealed Himself to Gideon as Yahweh Shalom, “The Lord is Peace.”  Peace is an integral part of God’s character, and we need to plug ourselves into the source by focusing on Him and trusting Him.
Philippians 4:6 and 7
(6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The record of Paul and Silas in Acts 16 is a great example of how to have peace in the midst of chaos. After these men had been beaten, imprisoned, and chained, they still managed to keep their focus by praying and singing to God. In order to stay calm in this situation, they had to completely trust that God would deliver them. This tranquility was impressive, but could they have stayed peaceful if three young children were with them in the prison? What if the kids were whining about the bread and water, or suddenly feeling the urge to have to go the bathroom as soon as their feet were locked in the stocks? Judging by Paul’s track record (see 2 Cor. 11:23-28), I’m guessing he could have remained peaceful even during temper tantrums. Once you have the certainty of salvation through Christ, there shouldn’t be much that can rile you from that state of inner peace and quietness.
True peace comes from the knowledge that we have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
If we spend our lives trying to work to be saved, we miss the point of God’s grace. My love for my children does not depend on what they do or do not do. The reason my children can come to me for peace is that they are assured of my unconditional love. They know that no matter what, I will always be their mother. Since we are born of incorruptible seed, God will always be our Father,  and He repeatedly refers to His “unfailing love” in the Bible. When we understand and accept God’s grace and live our lives accordingly in holiness and thankfulness, we stand confidently on the firm foundation.
Not only did Jesus make true peace available through his sacrifice, but “he himself is our peace.”  The world can only supply anxiety, fear, and pain, but Jesus left us a very precious gift:
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.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus confirmed that we will have trouble, but he made it available to have peace in him, even during chaotic times. On the night Jesus was born, the angels proclaimed, “…peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  It was hardly quiet that night, with the heavenly host singing and the townspeople celebrating the birth of a firstborn son. Chaos does not necessarily mean lack of peace, as evidenced during a recent Christmas dinner, when our Nate decided to throw a tantrum. As he was screaming and crying and flopping around like a pancake on a griddle, I started to sing a Christmas carol, “Silent night, holy night, all is calm…” Dave and I started to laugh, and as my heart swelled with love for my husband and children, I learned that even in the midst of turmoil, you can have inner peace and strength. We have been called to a life of peace and thankfulness, even on a not-so-silent night.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
 The Highly Sensitive Person (1997) and The Highly Sensitive Child (2002) by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., Broadway Books, New York.
 Judges 6:22-24.
 1 Peter 1:23.
 Ephesians 3:14.
 Luke 2:14.