A contest was held that invited artists to paint a picture of perfect peace. The judges eventually narrowed down the number of competitors to two men who had beautifully portrayed this concept on canvas. The first created a scene of a still, lone lake high in the mountains. The second depicted a thundering waterfall with the branch of a birch tree bending over the foam. On the fork of that limb, wet with spray, a robin sat undisturbed on her nest. The first picture spoke of tranquility, but the second won the prize. It showed in dramatic details that absolute calmness could be found in the midst of turbulent surroundings.
It is easy to remain unruffled when everything is quiet and serene, but to experience peace while the storm is raging-this is the type of peace that Jesus offers His followers. Before He went to the cross, He told His followers, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jo 14:27). Christ has given a wonderful gift of peace to each and every believer. The day you trust Christ, God gives calmness to your soul (Isaiah 26:3). Paul writes, “Therefore having been justified (declare righteous in the sight of God) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro 5:1). Peace is the tranquility of heart and mind that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is mental and emotional contentment based upon our relationship with God. The Greek word for “peace” implies binding together and implies that everything is in place as it ought to be, because “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God" (Ro. 8:28).
Inner peace, through an implicit trust in the love of God, is the real evidence of a mature Christian’s faith. Only with this kind of confidence in his heavenly Father could Horatio Spafford experience such heart-rending tragedies as he did, and yet still have peace. Spafford had known happy days as a successful attorney in Chicago. He was the father of four daughters and an active member of the Presbyterian Church. Then, a series of calamities began, starting with the great Chicago fire of 1871 that wiped out the family’s extensive real estate investments. Spafford decided to lift the spirits of his family by taking them on a vacation to Europe. In November of 1873, Spafford was detained by urgent business, but he sent his wife and four daughters as scheduled, planning to join them soon. Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel and sank in 12 minutes. All four of his daughters were among the 226 who drowned. Mrs. Spafford was among the few who were miraculously saved. Horatio Spafford stood hour after hour on the deck of the ship carrying him to rejoin his grieving wife in Wales. When the ship passed the approximate place where his daughters had drowned, Spafford received sustaining comfort from God that enabled him to write, “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Yet, far too often we let things of this world, things that are out of our control, steal the peace from our life. I call them joy or peace robbers. You know it is worrying about things that you can’t control. It is trying to control your life instead of giving your life into God’s hand. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Although this peace is available to each believer, we must appropriate it by trusting in God and His Word. We must be willing to trust God and put our life in His hands and obey.
A relationship with Christ will not stop our world from falling apart, but those in Christ can have peace even in the midst of tremendous storms, and this peace with God will bring eternal security (Heb 8:12 7 10:17). When a Christian is convinced he is eternally secure in Christ, he is free from focusing on his own goodness and merit, and is able to serve the Lord with the unqualified confidence that nothing can separate him from his heavenly Father. The peace that a believer has in Christ not only strengthens his faith, but also strengthens his service.
-Pastor Mike Kotrla