“ When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites (Judges 6: 23-24)”.
Gideon is described as a man who was from the “weakest clan” in Israel and the “least” in his family. Yet this was the man God chose to save Israel from the oppression suffered under Midian. God saw Gideon as a vessel to execute his purpose. He made peace with Gideon despite him having to see an angel of the Lord face to face, to make the impossible possible (Judges 6:22). That is what God’s peace does. It makes one strong in the midst of difficulty and enables one to achieve the impossible. It qualifies what we deem worthless or insignificant, and raises them to heights that reflect the power and majesty of God. The Peace of God indeed passes ALL understanding and allows us to stand strong and steadfast in the midst of chaos.
Parenting is chaotic. When I had one child I thought it was hard. But then I had another child and realized I knew nothing about parenting. The first few months of being a mother of two were utter chaos. It still is at times. What I do remember about those early days, to my shame, is the anger. There were days I would get so angry at the littlest thing, and snap at my son. There were those long restless, cluster feeding, gassy nights I would cry out at my newborn “Argh!! Would you JUST SLEEP?????” Sometimes I would go lock my self in the bathroom and cry or breath deeply until I would calm down. The anger and frustration was that intense. I was afraid I’d do something stupid. Or say something hurtful. I was exhausted, and sleep deprived. But that doesn’t matter to the little ones. They needed me. They needed me loving, kind, gentle and “all that”. I was far from being just that.
Recently, I came across two heartbreaking stories in the news. The first was about a father who was facing a life sentence in prison, for causing permanent damage to his newborn. The father woke up in the middle of the night to soothe his crying baby, and got more frustrated as the baby continued crying. The older son was also in the room with them, and the father got even more agitated as the crying started to wake up the older child. In one swift move, one tragic second, he shouted, “Go to sleep! I have to work in the morning!!” and slapped the newborn hard across the head. The rest of the story doesn’t matter. The baby now faces a life of disability. The second was about a mother of six. She was having a hard day. Her two-year-old daughter was having a typical tantrum. She resisted bath time. Then once she did bathe, she ran around the house refusing the let her mom dress her. The mother was fed up. She got angry and grabbed her two-year old daughter lifted her high up and threw her hard on the ground. The girl hit her head and was no more. The mother was arrested and sent away for life.
When I read these stories, my heart stopped. An icy chill ran down my spine as I came face to face with the darkness of this world. I thought, “How could they?” But as I read about these parents, I realized they were just like me. They were normal loving parents who were pushed over the limit and could not handle no more. They did not love their children any less than I did. They were just tired. Like I was. They tried. Like I did. They failed. Like I can.
It was in these moments, that God confronted me about how I was allowing my tiredness to overwhelm me. I realized that in my anger I have said things that hurt my children. I, like the parents of these stories, had bad days, when I was a poor excuse for a mother. It was because I am at war with my flesh that demands its own way, and the god of this world who is crouching at my door ready to kill, steal and destroy that which God has meant for good. My sinful nature is still capable of committing horrific acts, and I must never underestimate it. I asked God “How Lord? How can I protect my children against my own weakness and sinfulness??”
There is glory in conviction. It is how God teaches you of the “plank in your eye” before he tells you how to take it out. God graciously stepped in and showed me how I can win this constant battle that every parent lives with. The battle to be kind, gracious and patient with your children, when all odds are against you and exhaustion overwhelms you. It was all contained in one verse, the answer, and the weapon. And He led me right to it.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
It is His peace that enables us to be gracious, kind, loving parents that our children deserve. The word of God doesn’t say that His peace will fix the situation, or calm a hyper child, but it does say that it will guard “our” heart and mind. It is because every sinful act originates from the heart and mind. The peace of God instead acts as a protective barrier against such acts from coming to fruition. It reminds us that God himself is peace, and just like with Gideon, He enables us to do the impossible. His peace enables us to endure the sleepless nights with strength, to persevere with love and patience when our children disobey, to be steadfast and gentle with our care in the face of overwhelming exhaustion. Our flesh is indeed weak but the peace of God is stronger. His grace is sufficient. This world is full of darkness and peril, but we take heart and have peace, because God has overcome this world (Mark 4:35-40).
With God’s help I learned to exercise his peace especially in the hard days. As stated in Philippians 4:6, it starts with a prayer. Every morning when I wake up, I ask God for two things. I pray “God give me your grace for this day, sun up to sun down. Give me your Peace for the day, so that I do all that you have called me to do in a way that brings you joy. Because your joy is my strength.” I receive this grace and peace by faith and declare over myself and everything and everyone that concerns me, “The Lord is with me, and no matter what happens I will remain at peace. God is my Peace, He will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus”. I do fail time to time, but it has indeed become rare. The Holy Spirit often takes the reins at the right time, and steers me back to the blessed narrow path. When I do fail, I know it is because I do not have His peace, and I am reminded of my own sinfulness and my constant need of God’s mercy.
My dearest Brothers and Sisters, when you are overwhelmed by the exhausting demands of parenting, or just life in general, remember Gideon. Remember that God achieved the impossible through a weak, broken, but willing man, and He can do more for you. Ask for His Peace. Remember that God will guard you against yourself, and against the world and though in this world there is trouble, you will not be overcome by it (John 14:27). Take heart, stand steadfast, and look at chaos and hardship in the face and say “Peace! Be still” (Mark 4: 35-40).
“I hear the savior say
Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness, watch and pray
Find in me thine all in all”
(Lyrics from the hymn “Jesus Paid it all” written by Elvina M. Hall, 1865)
To God be the glory forevermore!