When I was 17, I went with friends to spend carnival in the city of Salvador. We rented a very cheap house and slept on the floor like most of the locals. Even though our neighbors were very poor, they were exceptionally nice to us. The simple life they lived and the love and friendship they gave freely were the secret to the happiness and laughter they shared. It dawned on me, for the first time, that love was the answer for many of the problems of humankind.
This year, I had a similar experience. I’d begun writing down all the things I’m grateful for during my morning devotions, and by the end of February I’d listed 180 items and was quite pleased with myself. Then March came along with a long series of difficulties and trials, and I wondered, What is there to be thankful for now? I looked around, desperate to find something positive to write, when that sweet small voice spoke softly: Be thankful that you are alive!
At first it sounded like some kind of a joke. Is that all? I asked back in disbelief.
Think again, He answered. If you were dead, you couldn’t do anything to solve these problems, so it is a blessing to be alive! Where there’s life, there’s hope that all these problems can be resolved with My help!
Jesus didn’t promise us that He would spare us from troubles, but that He would be with us through these difficulties. John 16:33 says: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” 1
If we know God is with us in every tribulation, we can have peace, regardless of what is happening around us. That’s the peace that passes all understanding that Paul talks about in Philippians 4:7—that feeling of gratefulness that God is in control even when we can’t see the solution.