By Ty Alan Gardner
The other night, my family and I were driving down the road when my wife said to our two young daughters,
“Look out your window, there’s a nativity!”
My three year old daughter immediately responded, “Dad, stop when we get to the nativity!”
We pulled over and adjusted the car so that we could all see the lit-up plastic display on the other side of the road.
In front of a modest house, sparsely decorated with a few Christmas lights, stood a simple nativity scene – Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.
As we stopped, we were overwhelmed with an immediate sense of peace.
Though we’d spent a wonderful evening together already looking at Christmas lights, this felt different.
And it’s hard to explain.
After sitting there for a while, we eventually drove away. As we did so, my wife looked at me and commented, “I think that was the best part of the whole night.”
The Peace Which Passeth All Understanding
To the Philippians, Paul wrote of the unexplainable peace of the Savior,
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Unexplainable because it comes when we least expect it.
And unexplainable because it doesn’t always make sense.
That’s the peace that I felt on the side of the road in front of a dated house with a plastic nativity.
As we drove home, and throughout the time since, I’ve thought of that peace over and over again.
It’s a peace I’ve felt before.
I’ve felt that peace as I’ve come to know my Father in Heaven and His Son.
And I’ve felt it teaching people the gospel and seeing the light in their eyes as they’ve come to know Them too.
I’ve felt that unexplainable peace as I’ve held my daughters at night, too sick to sleep.
And I’ve felt it when my younger sister lied comatose in a hospital bed, with little hope of full recovery.
I’ve felt that peace standing on holy ground.
And I’ve felt it sitting in a broken home.
The thing is – I’ve felt that peace in good times – like I did during that silent nativity night.
But I’ve also felt it in hard times – when it didn’t make any sense.
Just a few days ago, I felt that peace as my wife told me of a heartbroken friend who had just found out that her yet-to-be born baby will likely never be born alive.
To me, the pain and struggle my wife described are unimaginable.
But God knows.
And He has a plan for all of it.
With Him, unexplainable pain, suffering, and confusion can be accompanied by astonishing and unexplainable peace.
And this unexplainable peace is given to assure us that no matter where we’re at or what we’re going through – good, bad, or somewhere in between – that somehow, someway, someday… everything will be okay.
Emmanuel: God With Us
This Christmas season, as we reflect on the birth of the Savior, our hearts are opened – perhaps more than any other time of year – to the message of Christ.
The message of Christ – and thus, the message of Christmas – is “on earth peace, good will to men” (Luke 2:14).
This is a season to slow down, pull over, and take a moment to remember the Prince of Peace.
God with us.
Two thousand years ago, after centuries of hoping and praying and believing that a Messiah would come, He did.
He came as a baby boy born of a virgin in a small-town, quiet stable.
In fulfillment of years of prophesy and in the midst of heaven-filled rejoicing, the infant King was born.
That same Jesus lying in a manger then still lives today.
He showed up for me on the side of the road looking at a plastic nativity.
And He can show up for you on your street, in your home, and in your life too.
No matter who you are, where you are, where you’ve been, what you believe, or how you’ve lived; He came for you. His birth was evidence then and it’s evidence now that God is with us.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
So, this Christmas season, let’s take a moment to just think of that baby boy lying in a manger. We don’t need to be overwhelmed with or worried about what else was, is, or is to come. As D. Todd Christofferson said,
“Take time to relax, be at peace, and see this little child in your mind. Do not be too concerned … with what [may be] coming in His life or in yours. Instead, take a peaceful moment to contemplate perhaps the most serene moment in the history of the world—when all of heaven rejoiced with the message ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’ (Luke 2:14).”
As we remember Him, the unexplainable peace of Christ is available for us now – this Christmas season – and it’s available throughout the year.
In the stillness of a silent night long ago, peace came to earth.
And in the chaos of the modern world, that peace still exists.
Unexplainable, God-given, Jesus-born peace.