By Warren Olson
Several years ago, an art contest was held in which artists were told to paint a picture that embodied the word “peace.” Hundreds of paintings were submitted, and the day came when a winner would be chosen from the three finalists.
The judges took a look at the first finalist, a picturesque landscape of a flushing meadow of green grass and purple flowers stretching as far as the eye could see. They then moved on to the second finalist, an oil canvas painting of a tiny, pristine tropical island in the middle of a beautiful turquoise ocean.
When they reached the third painting, the judges were confused. There they stared at a horrid picture of a terrible storm. Lightning was striking; tree limbs were snapping; a torrent of rain was falling, driven by the wind as if it was coming from the side.
Then the judges looked down in the bottom left-hand corner of the painting, where the artist had painted a bird along with her four babies. The mother had her wings spread out over the young hatchlings, who were warm and dry despite the tempest that surrounded them. The painting was awarded first prize by the judges.
When most people think of peace, they think of comfortable circumstances that lead to an attitude of serenity. But peace is not the absence of conflict in our lives. Rather, it’s a perspective that no matter what challenges come your way, you can say, “It is well with my soul.”
This is exactly the kind of attitude that the apostle Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9,
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Someone who lives with the peace of God in his or her life isn’t someone who never encounters difficulties. Instead, a person who enjoys the lasting peace of God is someone who focuses on the “surpassing power” of God that’s inside of them.
Storms are going to come your way. In fact, the Lord Himself promised us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” But the very next phrase Jesus uttered is what gives us hope in the face of those storms: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This kind of encouragement isn’t just a one-way street. In fact, encouraging others should be a part of everyday life for the believer in Jesus Christ. So as you are encouraged by others, you then contribute your part in the encouragement cycle by supporting others as they face life’s struggles.
Whatever challenges you’re facing today – family difficulties, health issues, financial struggles – trust in the surpassing power of the Spirit of God inside of you to raise you up above your situation and have peace in the most impossible circumstances!