Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Where Does A Writer Find Peace?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

Are you tired of hearing news reports of violence around the world juxtaposed with carols that sweetly echo “sleep in heavenly peace?” Are you ever tempted to respond “Bah Humbug” when someone cheerily wishes you a Happy Holiday?

About a hundred years ago, author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was also despondent on Christmas Day.

His wife Frances had just been killed in an accidental fire. His son Charles had joined the army without his father’s blessing and now was severely wounded on the field. And to top it all, it was 1863 and with the Civil War raging, no one much felt like celebrating Christmas.

Henry wrote down these struggles: “I heard the bells on Christmas Day, Their old, familiar carols play, and wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 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, good-will to men!"

How can we write and speak about peace when there is only turmoil—both outwardly and within?

By turning to the Source of all peace—Jesus, known as “the Prince of Peace.”  His parting words to his disciples were “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.”John 4:27

In the Scriptures, the word peace means more than the absence of hostility or enmity. The Hebrew word translated ‘peace’ is shalom, which conveys wholeness, the perfecting of all that is broken or incomplete.

This kind of peace is what brings healing to our heart and soul. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” (Colossians 3.15)

Perhaps you are also struggling this Christmas, wincing when you hear bells ring and others rejoice. How can you find peace in the middle of your own storm?

“Christ is our peace.” (Ephesians 2.14 CEB)

Christ is our peace. Not circumstances. Not world events. Not even our children’s safety. Our peace comes from the One who promised peace and freely offers it to us. The question becomes, can we accept what He sends our way?

Longfellow came to realize this before he finished writing his Christmas Day poem. And so he concluded with renewed hope, “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, good-will to men." (hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863)

Peace in our world is rare. But it is possible to discover this shalom and dwell in it. I’ve read the last chapter and God is victorious! Have a peaceful Holiday Season.


Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is passionate about embracing life — both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she delights in weaving grace and mercy into ordinary life situations. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning, Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing Best Award for Devotional) , Ordinary Graces Live These Words Refresh! and Role of a Lifetime.  A member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), Lucinda received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for The Write Conversation.Whether co-directing  "reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing,"  pouring into young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at http://www.encouragingwords.net/ 


  1. Lucinda,

    Thank you for these pointed stories that in a world of turmoil, there is only one place to find the peace: Jesus. Terry

    1. Terry, May you and yours experience Peace in this Holy Season...

  2. That's one of my favorite Christmas songs. I love that Jesus gives peace. I don't know how I'd live each day without him. Thank you for your beautiful reminder of Jesus' peace.

  3. Lucinda, very timely and what an incredible and tragic story behind the words of that hymn/poem. It certainly gives the song an even deeper, more powerful meaning.

    1. Yes, words are powerful. Love this song too... Blessings!

  4. I love this carol and the story behind it. The nation was in the middle of the Civil War and everything did look bleak. But he tells us what we should look to, even when the country seems like it had gone crazy. God's throne never trembles.