I have always been a bit of a “word nerd”. Ever since I was a young child, I’ve loved learning about etymology, language, and expanding vocabulary. For someone like me, this time of year is wonderful for many reasons. Christmas is wonderful. Celebrating the new year is wonderful (perhaps a little extra wonderful this year, am I right?). But there’s one thing that I look forward to that maybe others don’t – the Word of the Year.
In December all of the major dictionaries release their “Word of the Year”. I’ve speculated for months about what the Word of the Year will be in what has easily been the craziest year of my life. Merriam-Webster has already claimed “pandemic” as their word. Oxford Languages couldn’t even pick one. Later this month, they will publish a full-on report called Words of an Unprecedented Year with a list of several candidates. I think “unprecedented” is a pretty good one myself.
What would yours be? If you could sum up your 2020 in one word, what would it be? I took a random Instagram poll several weeks ago and got a few of these responses:
Maybe you relate to one (or several!) of those. For most of us in a year like this, our word wouldn’t naturally be “peace”. Merriam-Webster says that peace is a “state of calm or quiet”, which I have to be honest, doesn’t exactly sound like how my 2020 has gone. So how in the world do we find something like “peace” in a year that’s so “unprecedented” and tumultuous?
We do it by looking to Jesus, who stepped into a world that was in unprecedented trouble. He stepped into our world where He would be mocked, beaten, and crucified. A world where the government would be plotting to kill him from the day of His birth. And yet, his life was defined by peace. In fact, it was bookended by it.
One of the most popular Christmas verses of all time (and my personal favorite) was written 700 years before the birth of Jesus in Isaiah. Isaiah is sometimes called the “Prince of Prophets” because he is famous for foretelling about the coming Messiah. In Isaiah 9:6, he says this:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Even 700 years before His birth, it was said that Jesus would bring peace. Likewise, Jesus repeats this idea before his death and resurrection when speaking with His disciples. In John 14:27, He promises them:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
You might ask “what kind of peace?” In a year like this one, it’s worth asking! The wonderful news for us to reflect on during this Christmas season is that knowing Jesus brings us peace, even in the hardest of circumstances. He brings us peace with God through His work on the cross (Romans 5:1). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He gives us peace with others, and “the ability to live in unity through the bonds of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). And He gives us personal peace, that with his presence we can endure even the most difficult trials (John 16:33).
Perhaps our Word of the Year can be “peace” after all. Finding peace is not different than it’s ever been, because it’s not hiding! This Christmas, let’s take heart in knowing that our Savior has brought the peace that we need. I pray that your Christmas season is filled with times of rich spiritual blessing, and that the Lord would bless you as the Hebrews prayed:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”