"Be of good cheer," Jesus said. To a man struggling with a paralysis he said, "Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee." To the disciples being tossed about on a boiling sea, he said, "Be of good cheer. It is I. Be not afraid." Troubles are nothing new. They were here before you and I made our appearance and they will be here long after we are gone. Jesus had this prescription for people who found themselves in difficult situations.
To people of every age and condition who were facing troubles he said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." This is not easy. We have a granddaughter who has a serious illness. It's difficult for us to be of good cheer. I don't think Jesus was talking about the ordinary good cheer of a sunny disposition. He wasn't talking about a Pollyanna kind of outlook. This just isn't enough. People work up this kind of good cheer. Christ was talking about the good cheer that comes from God.
What gives life purpose? What keeps us from wandering aimlessly never finding our way beyond a veil of uncertainly? I think our belief and faith in a loving God makes the difference. Faith is the key to confidence. When something goes amiss in our lives it is faith that pulls it back into perspective. This is the anchor in the storm. We can know that whatever else is taken from us, we are still important and still have a purpose in the eyes of God.
When things look bleak we have to be able to keep this certainty before us. We have to be able to follow this faith. This is the way we contribute our portion of the triumph of us over ourselves. The paralytic could be cheerful only when he knew his sins were forgiven and who forgave them. The disciples could be cheerful only when they knew who it was walking on the water. We can be cheerful in a deep and satisfying way only when we know that his hand is the one on us.
Who is it who bids us to be of good cheer? Who is it that forgives our sins? Who is it who quiets the stormy seas? Who is it who overcomes the troubles of this world? We believe it is the fellow who walked down hill from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. We believe it is he who then, through the cross and the empty tomb, went to the mountaintop from where he still proclaims his message to those who will listen.
"Be of good cheer. I am here."
This week's question: Matthew 5:3 has Jesus saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." What does he say in Luke 6:20? Last week's question: An earthquake at Phillippi eventually led to the release of two Christians from prison there. Who were they? Answer: Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25-27)
(Robert Lind is a retired newspaper editor and publisher. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)