“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Peace in the Eye of the Storm, by Randy & Gini Kittle


People from northern Florida to Maryland continued to evacuate the coastline as the few who stayed behind prepared for hurricane Hugo to crash into the Atlantic seaboard. In a few short hours great waves would pound the shoreline while winds approaching 200 mph flatten almost everything that dare to oppose them. And yet, a hundred miles out to sea, in the very midst of this powerful and devastating storm is an area about twenty miles wide with little wind and few clouds — the eye of the storm. As powerful as this picture of a perfect calm in the middle of a raging storm may be, it is only a weak reflection of the gift of peace God gives to His believers in the midst of the storms of life.

The same God who walks with us in the quiet, lonely places of life will also rule the hurricane force winds of our tribulations and give us His peace. We know this from our own experience. We have been hidden with Christ in the very middle of the storms of life.

After our first two babies had died — our first, a son, from a brain tumor at 3 ½ months old, and three years later our second, a daughter, from hypoplastic left heart syndrome when she was two days old — many people thought we were crazy to try once again to have children. However, we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we serve a sovereign God who is faithful to complete His promises. One of those promises is that He will grant us the desires of our heart.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Only the Lord himself knew how much we treasured the hope of raising a family together. And so, with His promise as our provision, we went forward in the peace of God.

The Gift of Peace
During our third pregnancy the gift of God’s peace was amazing. We didn’t really know it at the time, because we were so fully resting in it … but others constantly reminded us. “How can you be so strong to try again?” they would ask, adding “I wouldn’t have the courage.” After a while the comments seemed almost funny. We weren’t trying to climb Mount Everest or swim the English Channel, just have a baby! Many who were close to us seemed filled with fear and doubt. Once we were expecting they would regularly “share” with us their concerns … “shouldn’t you have this test” … “what if such-and-such happens” … continually sowing questions and concerns. But these seeds were never able to sprout, for the peace of God was guarding our hearts. It wasn’t that we had a great gift of faith, it was that God had granted us His great gift of peace. We were simply trusting in Him and His faithfulness with a peace beyond measure.

The peace that kept us resting in His love when everything around us was a whirlwind was the gift of God’s peace that He delights to give to His children. God strengthens us in times of weakness by giving us the gift of His supernatural peace.
“The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).

Do not be confused; there is both a
fruit of peace and a gift of peace. When we become believers, the Holy Spirit plants the seed of the fruit of peace within our hearts. As our understanding of the faithfulness and steadfast love of our Lord deepens, this seed sprouts and grows until it brings forth the fruit of peace within our hearts.

But there is also a gift of peace that God supernaturally imparts to His children — a superhuman strength of character that only He can give. When the enemy comes in with his agenda to kill, steal, and destroy, the Lord answers on behalf of His beloved with a “higher way” — a way of peace and love.
“When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). It is as if God sees us in the middle of the storm the enemy has brought to sink us, and then He reaches His omnipotent hand in to shelters us. There is no better place to be than in the palm of God’s hand. God hasn’t promised to remove us from the storm, but to be with us and remove the storm from us. The Lord is still speaking into storm-tossed lives today “Peace, be still!”

Since this peace is a gift, its magnitude is not dependent upon the one receiving it, but upon the one who is giving it.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11). Even new believers, still “wet behind the ears,” can have great peace in the midst of tragic trials because God knows the measure of peace they need. When God gives us the gift of His peace, we will find within us deep wells of stillness, calmness, and serenity that are beyond our abilities and our understanding. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives …” (John 14:27). God’s gift of peace doesn’t just lift us out of the current trouble, it points us in the right direction, for it is a calm assurance attached to a blessed hope.

Surpassing Understanding
Some of our close friends told us they couldn’t understand how we could be so calm. We couldn’t really understand it ourselves, nor could we explain it to them because it wasn’t our peace, it was God’s gift … a peace that passes understanding. Their comment was probably the first time we began to see that God was granting us a gift of peace. One day as we walked together we realized that with all we had been through, it wasn’t natural for us to have such a deep and abiding peace … it was supernatural. All about us the winds of adversity were blowing: fear, doubt, haunting questions, human reasoning; but we were right in the very midst of all the emotions and we had perfect peace. Why? Because God placed us under His wing by giving us His peace which sheltered us from all the evils of the enemies tempest which swirled around us.

Philippians 4:7 promises us that
“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” There is nothing else like the peace of God; it is beyond our understanding. This should not come as a surprise to us, for God is infinite and the gifts He gives are infinite in nature. Although we cannot fully comprehend His peace, we still can receive it from Him. It is a peace that surpasses understanding — not gives understanding. Many reject the peace of God because they expect it to grant them supernatural understanding of their circumstances. But the peace of God is not to give understanding, it is to get rid of the need to have understanding. How often people forfeit the peace of God because they are still clinging to the need to understand and explain to others what has happened! As long as we look to have all the answers before we will receive peace, we will be caught in the never-ending spiral of more questions. When we do this, we are operating out of our “soul power” and not out of our spirit. If we lean on our soul’s ability to understand and explain what’s happening, we are trusting in our soul’s strength to defeat the enemy — not the Lord’s. When we let peace come from our spirit, instead of trying to get it in our soul, this peace is “beyond” our understanding — beyond any question the enemy can bring. Within us will be a genuine peace we can testify of … but are never really able to explain because it surpasses understanding.

Overcoming the Wall of W-H-Y
A few years ago Randy had a vision that illustrates this principle. In this vision he saw a pilgrim on a journey. As the pilgrim came over the crest of a hill there was a sight that took his breath away. From the horizon on his left to the horizon on his right, as far as he could see was a wall several stories tall that looked very foreboding. Blocking his path was a tall, strong wall that had no door through which to pass. Written on the wall in gigantic proportion were the letters W-H-Y. As he stood staring at the wall, the look on the pilgrim’s face became very discouraged. Had he ventured so far and through so much just to end his journey here? Questions came swimming through his mind.

From the top of the wall came a voice, “I am the gatekeeper, if you have proper understanding, then I shall allow you to pass.” The gatekeeper asked the young traveler a question “Why is it that bad things happen to good people?” As the pilgrim stumbled about trying to give a clear answer, the gatekeeper brought another question, “If God is all knowing, why did He create Lucifer?” In the midst of his frustration and anger, a dove came and landed on his shoulder and said,
“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, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). After the pilgrim allowed the peace of God to soak his heart, he opened his eyes and began to see the wall for what it really was, an artificial defense of the enemy — a paper wall of false resistance. Once he saw this, he stepped through the wall and it tore to pieces like a sheet of tissue paper.

The peace of God overcomes understanding … it overcomes the wall of WHY!

Not a Hollow Peace
When the trials of this world buffet our lives we often seek refuge in other “storm shelters” beside God’s peace. Notice we said “when.” It is not if they come, but when they come. In the seventh chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus tells the parable of the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. In verse 27 it says “For when the rains and floods come …” In this parable the rain, floods, and storm winds beat against both the house built on the rock and the house which was built on the sand. Believers whose lives are resting on the Rock which is Christ will still have storms in this world. The Lord allows some of the storms of life to blow upon believers because He is wanting to shake loose and remove the superficial things we hold on to. It is often only when going through the tempest that we let go of the things we are clinging to. When we “lose our grip” we will find that God remains faithful … holding onto us. We are not lost; we do not sink — our letting go has only let loose of those things we needed to be free from.

One of these faulty towers of false peace is trusting in a stoic, nonemotional outer shield to turn back the difficulties that come our way. But the peace that God granted us when we went through our third pregnancy was not a peace based on detachment or lack feeling. We didn’t hold back our hopes and dreams of what this little one would be like as they grew up. We still felt the pain and grieved and wept over our past loss. But our circumstances hadn’t changed God’s character — nor His promises! We could trust in His character and His promises with hearts filled with dreams and hopes for our little one and our lives together.

When our daughter Ashley was dying, I (Randy) had tried to find protection from the cold winds of adversity in a shelter of “outer reserve.” Once we discovered her problem, I was believing she would be healed, but somehow I thought this meant I couldn’t accept her and love her as she was. Because of this, I guarded my heart and refused to let it “connect” with her. When she died the next day, my heart was not only broken because of losing my child, I was devastated due to the regrets that flooded my heart. I hadn’t held her, kissed her, sung to her; I realized that I had guarded my heart with a stoic hardness so I wouldn’t feel the pain. To avoid feeling the hurt I had avoided feeling the love. Oh how I wish I had loved and lost instead of never taking the chance to love, for you never truly lose when you choose to love.

We must not think that our lives as believers are to be void of feeling — far from it. The emotions, are quickened, and brought into a fullness and depth only possible for a child of God. The peace and quietness of the soul which abides in Him, is not that of indifference or presumption, but of sweet rest. All our feelings are submerged in the sweet love of God.
“Peace is love reposing,” someone has said. The normal frustrations, the troublesome annoyances of life are left in quiet resignation and perfect submission, because we know all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. We trust that He knows the future, that He has a wonderful plan for our lives, and we rest in the tranquillity of God himself. Never substitute lack of feeling for faith…for detachment can never bring peace, just the delayed unrest of a heart filled with regrets!

A Safe-Place Called Denial
Another one of these man-made shelters from life’s storms is denial. Romans 4:17 tells us that we are to “… calls things that are not as though they were.” In faith we are to declare those things that are, as of yet, not apparent. Unfortunately, some people — ministers included — have read this Scripture with hearts suffering from “spiritual dyslexia.” Those who suffer from dyslexia have a problem with reading things reversed or backwards. They may see “58” as “85,” or the word “was” as “saw.” Those suffering from spiritual dyslexia believe this verse tells us to “call things that are as though they are not.” Instead of declaring what God’s is doing, they deny the circumstances that exist. Instead of declaring that God is healing (or has healed) their fever, they simple state that they don’t have a fever. Who cares if they are red-hot, flushed, and the thermometer hanging from their mouth reads 104º … they declare it’s not true! This is not faith; it’s fantasy! Declaring the things that we are believing for is one thing, but denying how things currently are is delusional.

We will find no true peace in denial…for underneath the sound of hyper-faith statements lies a heart that knows they “ain’t so.” Denial is doubly dangerous, for not only is it merely a false peace that cannot last, but when we trust in its “protection” we fail to receive the gift of peace the Lord is offering. Once the delusion of denial is broken, the illusion of peace will also suddenly evaporate, and we will be left troubled and storm-tossed by the circumstances of life.

God’s Perfect Promise
At the end of the summer we went to the hospital and a few fatiguing hours later our daughter Anna was born. What joy flooded that delivery room as God’s promise had been literally birthed into completion. The next morning, however, the enemy showed up in his normal fashion … declaring that God was not faithful. The nurse came into the hospital room to tell Gini that she had heard a small heart murmur when she was examining the baby. It may not be anything to worry about but she had called the doctor. Less than two years earlier this had been what they said when they discovered our first daughter’s heart condition. Alone in the hospital, I (Gini) called out to God for an answer. Quickly He responded by giving me Psalm 128 as a promise: How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion, and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!

God wasn’t just answering the enemy’s attack. He was extending His promise to me. I would not only have a child; I would have grandchildren someday! When the doctor arrived, he confirmed the Lord’s faithfulness, “she’s perfect” was his conclusion.

We would all like peace that soars above the storm clouds. But God has promised us a far greater gift — to be with us and give us a peace beyond the circumstances of life. When the billows of adversity roll into your life, don’t put your hope in denial or hardness of heart. They are unable to bring you safely through. If you will allow God to give you His peace, it will guard your heart and go beyond the haunting questions of the enemy. God is well able to give you His gift of peace no matter how difficult your circumstances in life seem to be. So, when the squalls of life begin to blow, be still and rest in the Rock and His sure promises … and He will give you the gift of His overcoming peace.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

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