Commentary: Peace amidst the storms
By Maj. Olga Westfall, 94th Airlift Wing Chaplain's Office
/ Published September 08, 2011
DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- What comes to your mind when you hear the word, "peace?" Is it a place at a quiet lake, a solitary place at a beach or somewhere in a beautiful garden? Do you picture yourself somewhere where it's quiet, safe and pleasant?
Sometimes life throws us in all kinds of troubles, storms and challenging situations. How do you maintain your peace then? What helps to maintain peace no matter what might go wrong in your life?
When I go through difficult times, I like to read the book of Psalms. I identify with the writers of the book in their emotional and spiritual situations, struggles and feelings of "ups' and "downs."
One of the psalms that has been an inspiration for millions of people through generations is Psalm 23. The first part paints a beautiful and peaceful picture: we read about green pastures and still waters.
But suddenly the picture changes in vol. 4, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Do you find yourself sometimes going through your "valleys of the shadow of death?"
It is pretty scary if you are alone in that valley. However, the psalmist says that he is not afraid because God Himself is with him. You see, God did not promise to take us out of the storms of life but he promised his presence with us when we are in a midst of them.
Life might be hard and storms might be furious, but there is no need to be afraid if we trust God to be with us.
We find true peace not when everything is easy and "smooth sailing." It might be quite the opposite. You might be going through rough times and hardships but in the midst of them you can have that inner peace that only God can give.
There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked; he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror. Peaceful towering mountains were all around it.
Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains too, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall.
This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest.
There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest in perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The King chose the second picture. Do you know why? Because, explained the King, peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.
Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of "peace."