Thursday, December 14, 2017

Peace on Earth?

So many of our Christmas carols herald peace on earth, just as the angels did that first Christmas, yet this year the news has been full of tragedy, terrorism, dire threats, and predictions of war. Devastating hurricanes, floods, and fires have destroyed large portions of several states and territories. Scandals and controversies have shredded the very fabric of our beloved America. Certainly not the recipe for peace!


The lyrics of one Christmas carol are particularly poignant in the light of such strife: "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The third verse strikes a cynical tone:

And in despair I bowed my head:

 "There is no peace on earth," I said.

For hate is strong and mocks the song

 of peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Why was Longfellow feeling so bleak that Christmas when he wrote that carol?

His journal tells that in 1863, when he penned that poem, peace on earth was only a dream. The Civil War, a war that pitted brother against brother, had torn apart almost every American family with horror and despair.

In fact, the day the poet heard the Christmas bells that year, he also received the heart-wrenching news that his son, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been seriously wounded in battle. As the bells chimed "peace on earth," Longfellow's son lay dying, the result of men's hatred. 

Longfellow struggled with the conflicting messages. But the bells kept ringing and ringing.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail; the right prevail,

with peace on earth, goodwill to men.

As Longfellow wrote those words, it was as if God, who also lost His Son to man's hatred, said, "Hate is strong, but I am stronger. Rest in Me. Peace will come." And he found peace.

Perhaps you are struggling with peace this Christmas season. You too can find comfort in the promise of Jesus in John 16:33, 


Yes, in this world we will have trouble and tribulation. But God promises to be with us in our struggles. That is the message of Christmas: Jesus is called Immanuel--God with us! And one day, Jesus will return to set everything right.

My Alaskan Waters Trilogy is complete. See

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