Years ago, a major art gallery sponsored a competition for painters and they were offering prizes for the best painting on the subject of “Peace.”
The painting that won was a real surprise. The scene was the ocean in a violent storm. The sky was ominous, the lightning was cutting across the sky, and the waves were crashing into the rock walls of the cliffs by the shore.
Where was the peace?
You had to look twice to understand what was going on. There, about halfway up the cliff, was a birds’ nest tucked into a tiny hollow in the rock. A mother bird was sitting on that nest with her little babies tucked underneath her, sleeping soundly.
That was peace!
Peace is not just the absence of a storm, but rest in the middle of the storm. Many of us could use that kind of peace right now, and it is the kind of peace that you can have right now if you’re resting where you ought to be.
“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” — Dolly Parton
On the South coast of China, on a hill overlooking the harbour of Macao, Portuguese settlers built a massive cathedral. But a typhoon proved stronger than the work of man’s hands, and some centuries ago the building fell in ruins, except for the front wall. High on the top of that jutting wall, challenging the elements down through the years is a great bronze cross.
In 1825 Sir John Bowring was shipwrecked near that place. Clinging to the wreckage of his ship, he at last caught sight of that great cross which showed him where he could find safety. The dramatic rescue moved him to write the words of a familiar hymn:
In the cross of Christ I glory;
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
If you’ve ever been caught in a hurricane, you know it’s one of the most powerful natural forces known to man. Wind gusts of up to 155 mph; rain up to 5 inches an hour; the ability to create waves 10 storeys high, with surges up to 25 feet wide. It’s been known to level entire cities in minutes.
Two components of a hurricane are especially interesting.
One is the eye — that relatively calm centre in which sinking air inhibits cloud and thunderstorm development.
And immediately surrounding the eye is the eyewall, which contains rising air and powerful rain clouds. In sharp contrast to the calm eye, the eyewall houses the most powerful elements of the hurricane, including the strongest winds and heaviest rains.
If you could hover above this force of nature, you’d see the strongest part of a hurricane takes place near its centre, while the centre remains relatively calm.
There’s a lesson here for all of us:
God doesn’t take away all our troubles — at least not as quickly as we’d like Him to — but He promises us peace in the midst of them.
One of the last things Jesus told His disciples before leaving this world was, ‘In this world, you will have trouble’ [John 16:33].
And He was right, wasn’t He? We all experience stress, occupational demands, deadlines, expectations, personal pressures ganging up on us and constantly trying to rob us of the peace we desperately desire.
No one is immune to stress, frustration, and the feeling that we’re in the eye of the storm.
What is all this but the absence of peace?
And the answer can’t be found in a pill, a possession, or a pleasure.
All those things wear off or wear out.
When you’re at peace with God you’ll be at peace with yourself, and when you’re at peace with yourself you’ll be at peace with others.
So the Thought for Today is that although it might feel like we’re in the eye of a storm, with this coronavirus spreading, we can know peace if we trust in God.