Two painters were once asked by a king to paint a picture illustrating peace. The first man revealed a painting of a lake still as glass. Its surface reflected the surrounding mountains and lacy birch tree branches. The second was a very different scene. A dark stormy sky overshadows cold craggy rocks. Over these rocks flows a thundering waterfall. A single slender birch tree clings to the rocks, her branches shaking and sprayed by the foam. Here rests a mother robin on her nest.
Which painting displays the true idea of peace?
“Outwardly, Christ endured one of the most troubled lives ever lived. Storms and turmoil, turmoil and storms, wave after wave broke over Him until His worn body was laid in the tomb. Yet His inner life was as smooth as a sea of glass, and a great calm was always there.” (1)
This is illustrated in Mark 4:35-41. “On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
Jesus led His disciples to sail across the sea, knowing (in His sovereignty) that it would storm. And knowing this, He went to sleep. Jesus did not fear even when the storm was fierce enough to cause grown men, fishermen who had grown up on the sea, to cry “we are all going to die!” (my paraphrase)
Contrast Jesus’ response to the response of His disciples.
The disciples responded with fear and doubt.
- They thought that God had left them.
- They forgot that God was in control.
- They didn’t see that the storm was allowed for a purpose.
- Their eyes were fixed on the storm and on themselves.
- They tried to get Jesus to react in fear.
Jesus responded with peace and faith.
- He knew God would never leave Him or forsake Him.
- He trusted in God’s sovereignty.
- He knew that God was allowing the storm for a purpose (to display His authority).
- His eyes were fixed on His Father.
- He reacted in peace, rather than the same frantic fear as His disciples.
How can we attain this sort of peace?
Philippians 4:6-7 gives us a command: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch this? Don’t worry, instead pray, giving thanks, and God will give you His peace.
Peace is not perfect stillness of surroundings. It is freedom from fear, anger, and anxiety; quietness of mind. (2) Just like Jesus sleeping in the boat when the disciples were frantic. Just like the robin resting on the branch surrounded by a waterfall. Peace does not come from surroundings. It is possible to be in the midst of a fierce storm, and have peace.
Peace is a “state of calm rising from a heart deeply and firmly established in God.” (1) As Isaiah 26:3-4 says: “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace Because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.”
It is not our own strength that this is possible! Trust me, I have tried. I have tried to carry everything on my own shoulders. It is not only impossible, but it is miserable.
Perfect peace, peace beyond comprehension, is found in God.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
1. Streams in the Desert, L.B. Cowman, June 13th (pg. 228)
2. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary “Peace”
*I also recommend this song. It is a great way to renew your mind with God’s Word. A good friend sent it to me a couple of weeks ago, and since then it has been constantly running through my mind.