It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heav’n’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
I’m sure that first Noel was a silent night as a few with wondering awe came to behold Him, Christ the Lord, in the little town of Bethlehem. If only we could bottle up that peace and keep it always in our hearts. “There is not peace on earth,” I said. “For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth goodwill to men…” But then we remember, that even Christ has said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I did not come to send peace… (Matthew 10:34).”
Our world is fraught with anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness. Though you and I may or may not have such a disorder, I can guarantee that everyone has experienced anxiety; whether it be anxiety about an upcoming test, starting a new job, having a baby, paying the bills, performing in the school play, meeting a new friend, going on your first date, driving in traffic, making sure you get the right Christmas present for someone — we all have felt it.
After working to prepare a people ready for the temple, Jospeh Smith wrote, “I returned unto my house being weary with continual anxiety…”
Even our ancient prophet, Jacob, felt anxiety, saying, “And ye yourselves know that I have hitherto been diligent in the office of my calling; but I this day am weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of your souls than I have hitherto been (Jacob 2:3).”
We all yearn for a silent night, when “all is calm [and] all is bright.”
The adversary and the world will tell us such peace comes from having more — more money, more time, more fun, more status, more likes — And yet, ironically, these things only lead to more anxiety because we will always feel we don’t have enough and need more.
The world will also tell us we need less — less work on relationships, just cut them loose if they aren’t making you happy; less time at work, but get the same paycheck; less pressure to perform, less striving for perfection, and less righteousness because doing so makes you feel shame when you fall short.
We will always have the human emotions of tension, concern, stress, agitation, worry and conflict. The struggle comes in these words from Jacob: “I will unfold this mystery unto you; if I do not, by any means, get shaken from my firmness in the Spirit, and stumble because of my over anxiety for you.” When the anxiety outweighs the peace, we need to make room for Christ.
Joy to the World, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Saint and Angels sing!
HOW DO WE PREPARE ROOM FOR JESUS?
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid (Luke 2:8-9).”
“‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread had seized their troubled minds.
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring, to you and all mankind.’…
All glory be to God, peace on earth, goodwill to never cease.”
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us (Luke 2:15).”
Joy of a Savior had replaced their fear.
What is it that we fear? We can look to the vision of the Tree of Life for an answer here. There was one group of people who pressed forward, clinging to the rod of iron. After partaking of the fruit, they looked around as though they were ashamed. As they looked, they saw a great and spacious building.
“And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost (1 Nephi 8:24-28).”
Elder Maxwell taught that Laman and Lemuel were intimidated by Laban’s power, but their fear of him merely showed the power of fear.
“Like those who were alive at the time of His mortal ministry, there are some among us who look for physical peace and prosperity as signs of the Savior’s wondrous power. We sometimes fail to understand that the everlasting peace Jesus promises is an inner peace, born in faith, anchored by testimony, nurtured with love, and expressed through continual obedience and repentance. It is a peace of spirit that echoes through the heart and the soul. If one truly knows and experiences this inner peace, there is no fear from worldly disharmony or discord. One knows deep down inside that all is well as far as the things that really matter are concerned (President M. Russell Ballard April 2002).”
Before Christ’s crucifixion, he left this charge to His disciples:
“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.”
LET is a significant word there. It is our choice whether or not we let our hearts be afraid. In Colossians 3:15 we learn, “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie…
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him, still, the dear Christ enters in.”
“Peace and agency are intertwined as essential elements of the plan of salvation….Letting go of control and choosing the Savior would allow us to have His light and His peace (Elder Quentin L. Cook, Oct. 2021).”
To have the peace of Christ in our lives, to have His peace overpower our anxieties, is it really as easy as choosing HIm? Yes…and no. In Job we are taught, “Become acquainted with Him and be at peace.”
The Lord teaches us how to become acquainted with him: “Learn of me and walk in the meekness of my spirit and ye shall have peace in me (D&C 19:23).”
Becoming acquainted with the Lord is as simple and as complicated as building an intimate relationship with anyone — your spouse, your children, those to whom you are assigned to minister, friends — anyone.
To become acquainted with the Lord we must invite Him into our lives and greet Him daily.
“Yea, Lord we greet thee,
Born this happy morning.”
Our beloved prophet invites us to do so with these words:
“The voices and pressures of the world are engaging and numerous. But too many voices are deceptive, seductive and can pull us off the covenant path. To avoid the inevitable heartbreak that follows, I plead with you today to counter the lure of the world by making time for the Lord in your life — each and every day.” President Russell M. Nelson
To become acquainted with the Lord we must learn to hear His voice.
Psalm 85:8 I hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace to his people.
D&C 6:23 Did I not speak peace to your mind?
Alma 58: 11 He did speak peace to our souls
D&C 84:52 Whoso receives not the Lord’s voice is not acquainted with it
Knowing what His voice sounds like typically means paying attention to our feelings.
“Whenever a spirit presents itself that produces disturbance of feeling, agitation, pain, darkness or doubt, we can know if we will judge as we should do, that it is not of God; but a spirit that produces peace, a spirit that produces joy, light and happiness, comes from God, and as a people we should be able to judge between these two classes of influences (JD 17:120, George Q. Cannon, July 1874).”
Isaiah says: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever” Isa. 32:17
“Wherever this peace exists, it leaves an influence that is comforting and refreshing to the souls of those who partake of it. It is like the morning dew to the thirsty plant. This peace is alone the gift of God and can only be received from Him through obedience to His laws… (John Taylor JD 1:221).”
Romans 14:19 tells us to follow after the things which make for peace
RELY ON THE ATONEMENT
Jacob’s antidote to his overwhelming anxiety was the atonement of Jesus Christ. Jacob 4:12 “for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?”
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing…
peace on earth and mercy mild;
Hail the heav’n born prince of peace,
hail the son of righteousness;
Light and life to all he brings,
Ris’n with healing in his wings.”
“As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (Elder Cook, Oct. 2021).”
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
Peace—real peace, whole-souled to the very core of your being—comes only in and through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Russell M Ballard, April 2002
“Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life’s devastating trials and tragedies (Elder Cook 2013).”
I testify that I have felt such peace in my life and am eternally grateful for my relationship with Jesus Christ.
Brigham Young would say we are already acquainted with God…we have simply forgotten. Psalm 139:3 - God is acquainted with all our ways. We need not fear because He knows us! We have already chosen Him once and trusted in His eternal plan and Atonement. We simply need to choose Him again.
And so, as we each seek for a silent night when all is calm and all is bright, let us remember to rely on our Savior, Jesus Christ… Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…and proclaim:
I love thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.