Find Lasting Peace in Troubled Times


Peace comes and goes for most of us, day to day, possibly several times a day, but there is a peace that lasts. It doesn’t go away unless we choose to go away from it. It’s a peace that “passeth all understanding” (see Philippians 4:7), a peace from God. Because we come from God, it’s not surprising that abiding peace comes from Him too.

My hope is to share a few things that have given me a peace that endures in troubled times.

You’ll probably read or hear these angelic words more than once this Christmas season:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14.)

The sentiment is familiar, but the King James rendition might not have captured the original meaning.

Consider several other translations of Luke 2:14 (emphasis mine). Let’s start with the Wycliffe Bible, translated under the direction of John Wycliffe in the late 1300s:

Glory be in the highest things to God, and in earth peace be to men of good will.

Here’s how the New International Version (1970s) renders it:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

And here’s yet another sense from The Message, Edward Peterson’s translation completed in 2002.

Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

There’s a theme here: Peace will come to those who please God, to men and women of good will, on whom His favor rests.

Just before He entered the garden of Gethsemane, Christ said:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27.)

That’s not situational peace. He was about to suffer more than anyone was capable of suffering (see D&C 19:15–20), but His understanding rested on what would result from that suffering. In spite of betrayal, tribulation, or torture, in spite of what the world was saying or doing, he found a peace that was not of this world:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33.)

The religious establishment of the day could harm His body and inflict on Him unimaginable pain, but they could not take His peace.

He told us in this dispensation where to find that peace:

But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come. (D&C 59:23; emphasis mine).

I love this verse about Enoch. It’s not often cited, but it describes to me one of the greatest sources of peace:

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5; emphasis added).

To walk the path our Heavenly Father intends us walk,  and to remain on that path, can lead us to the testimony that our course pleases Him—a lasting source of peace. If we do our best to follow our heart and conscience, imperfect as we may be, we can have faith and not be troubled about the future.

That’s my wish for you this Christmas season: A testimony of your standing before Him, and peace of mind in this world and real hope in the world to come.

[This post was first published in Decemeber 2016.]

The Wexford Carol by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Here is a beautiful arrangement of an English carol that dates from the 16th century. Listen. I promise you’ll feel better when you do. Lyrics follow.

Good people all, this Christmastime,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending His belovèd Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon the morn
There was a blest Messiah born.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
“Prepare and go”, the angels said,
“To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you’ll find, this happy morn,
A princely Babe, sweet Jesus born.”

[This post was first published in December 2016.]

“What Child Is This?”—from the Heart

At a prison worship service today, I heard an inmate sing “What Child Is This?” Not a performance by a trained artist but sung from the heart, if not from an even deeper place. And yes, it was on key too. An act of pure worship by one of the most serene men I know.

This inmate spent nearly 20 years “in the hole” (solitary confinement), but now he’s a man of presence and peace. He’s redeemed. An expert of the soul. And he’s about to be released prison. I cherish the performance I witnessed today.

Here’s another beautiful performance of the song, followed by lyrics.

What Child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant king to own Him,
The King of kings, salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
The Virgin sings her lullaby:
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Will You Light the World?

Here’s a video I can’t resist sharing. Every day starting December 1 and leading up to Christmas is an opportunity to remember the things our Savior did and to follow His example. Here you’ll find daily inspiration on 25 ways to follow the example of Jesus Christ in your daily life—and make this season unforgettable.

Because He is the light of the world (John 8:12), we can light the world (Matthew 5:14).

My Christmas Sword

I was pretty surprised to receive a 47-inch broadsword for Christmas. I absolutely love it, of course, but I wondered why my wife would give me such an impractical gift. I mean, it’s a pretty cool butter knife, but I can’t really take it out of the house.

When I asked her later why she gave me the sword, I didn’t expect her answer. “You’re a warrior,” she said. “You need a weapon.”

As you can well imagine, that made me feel a little dangerous. I am not entirely sure why I like feeling dangerous, but John Eldredge does.

My wife recently read Wild at Heart by Eldredge. And she got me a copy of it to read too. (It’s in the queue. The short one.) I am eager to find out why I like feeling dangerous.

Maybe my wife actually needs me for something. Maybe I might actually be useful to her. Maybe she wants a warrior to be near her.

The notion means a lot to me. It makes me want to be even more useful, to try harder to shield and defend and protect, if only spiritually or even symbolically.

My wife knighted me. And that really means a lot.

"Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

This music video, set in a prison, is certainly unique . . . and effective. It moved me deeply.

Infant holy, infant lowly,
for his bed a cattle stall.
Oxen lowing, little knowing,
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging angels singing,
Noels ringing, tidings bringing.
Christ the babe is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
vigil till the morning new
saw the glory, heard the story,
tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
praises voicing, greet the morrow.
Christ the babe was born for you.

The Introvert’s Guide to Black Friday

Both my wife and I generally avoid crowds, prefer quiet and stillness, and need time alone to renew and refuel every day. If charged with the crime of introversion, we would both be easily convicted on multiple counts. We recognize that there may be a few others out there like us that likewise have an aversion to kamikaze shopping on Black Friday. We, therefore, offer the following suggestions.

1. Shop your local grocery store (not the big box grocery stores with toy sections, though). The day after Thanksgiving is often one of the quietest days of the year for a regular grocery store. They’ll be surprised to see you! Buy a Christmas tree at Harmons like we did today and a very nice clerk on cold duty will tie it to the roof of your car and ask you all about your Thanksgiving while he’s at it. Because there’s no one else to talk to.

2. Go to the dollar store. Everything will be the same price that it was the day before Thanksgiving, the same price it is every other day of the year. This sales strategy does not attract a lot of shoppers on Black Friday. Ask them about their door busters (I did today): they’ll look back at you as if you asked them a question in Aka-Bo. Only two cars were in the parking lot this morning. Ours was one of them.

3. Get an oil change and a car wash. We will admit, things were hopping there. One car was in front of ours in the garage bay. And the free car wash that came with the oil change? I think we had to wait five minutes to get on the car conveyor. Yes, there were actually other cars going through the car wash in front of us. Most of them were dirty.

4. Fill up your car with gas at Costco where every day is Black Friday. Same crowds as any day. Four-minute wait, but at $1.89 per gallon, completely worth it. No gas pump rage today.

5. Go to your favorite health and supplement store, Dave’s Health and Nutrition, where they’re having a two-day sale. We did. More sales clerks than shoppers in the store when we got there. I will admit we got there late. Like 5:00 p.m. Everything was 20 percent off. Thinking of going back tomorrow.

6. Fill up your three-gallon water jug at the local artesian well. One other guy there. Pleasant conversation. Room for three people. There less than five minutes.

7. Oh, and shop on the Internet. Big crowd there but you likely will not run into anyone you know. In fact, you won’t run into anyone, unless you have Facebook open on one of your tabs.

8. Write a blog post, alone in your study, about being an introvert on Black Friday. 

It’s okay to maintain a low-pro on Black Friday. Or any other day of the year. It’s not that we don’t like people. We love people. It’s just that we’re not very interesting (or fun) to be around in large, noisy groups, where we run out of emotional fuel, fast.