Has anyone ever told you to “Cheer Up!” ? You may have seen the unhappy side of something, and frowned, while someone else can see the bright side of things. They tell you not to be disheartened.
Maybe they have a solution, or can see an upside that balances the negatives.
Jesus told His disciples to “Cheer Up” when He had given them some challenging news.
“In the world you will have trials: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
He didn’t say “Cheer Up, because there won’t be any trials”. Jesus said there would be trials. The “Cheer Up” was because in all those trials we have Christ on our side and He has overcome the world.
The Apostle Paul said “Cheer up” to a shipload of men who thought they were going to drown. They had been at sea in a storm for days when Paul told them they would be safe.
“Be of good cheer: for there will be no loss of any man’s life among you, only loss of the ship. Overnight the angel of my God stood by me, saying, God has given you the lives of all who sail with you. So, men, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it will be just as I was told.” Acts 27:22-25
Being of good cheer, feeling positive about a situation, comes from seeing the upside in the challenge. It is not from the idea of having it easy, but of coming through the situation positively.
I recall talking with a newly-wed couple who were discouraged by tensions between them. They had doubts about the future of their marriage. I pointed out that such tensions are normal, since two different people have to adjust to life together. I also pointed out that tensions are very valuable in helping us become the person God wants us to be, since we see our selfishness and limitations and have to find God’s grace.
That changed perspective cheered them up and set them on a much happier experience of married life. They weren’t rescued from their tensions, but they understood the benefit they could derive from working through those tensions.
The best news, the thing that can cheer us up the most, is to know that we are right with God. This was the focus of another “Cheer Up” message from Jesus.
“People brought to Jesus a paralysed man, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2
Jesus announced a wonderful spiritual benefit for the man, that the sins he had committed were forgiven. The man may have thought he was paralysed as punishment for sin. The word that his sins were forgiven spoke deep into his life.
The religious types scoffed at what Jesus said, so Jesus also healed the man, who got up and walked. Yet, I suspect he was most deeply touched by the fantastic news that he was clean before God, forgiven.
Through history people consoled themselves with the truth that spiritual benefits were coming, after they endured this life. African natives who had found faith by Dr Livingstone’s preaching were among those captured by slave traders and shipped to America. They had no hope of rescue or return to their villages and homeland. So they found strength reminding themselves of eternal salvation in heaven, waiting for them when the ordeal of this life was over.
Negro spirituals celebrate crossing the Jordan, symbolic of leaving this life for heaven, and being caught up in Elijah’s heavenly chariot to “carry me home”.
As Christians, with God on our side and with eternity as our reward, we can endure all manner of challenges, knowing God is at work within us, and that God will bring good out of everything, and also that the issues of life will soon be forgotten as we celebrate being Sons of God in heaven for eternity.
Another time Jesus said “Cheer Up” was when He came to His disciples in the dead of night, walking on the water. They saw a figure coming toward them in the gloom, and were terrified.
“They all saw him, and were troubled. Immediately he talked with them, and said to them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” Mark 6:50
Here they were facing something outside their experience, filled with uncertainty and fear. Those who sailed the Sea of Galilee all their life had never seen such a thing. They had every right to be anxious and troubled.
So, what was it that cheered them up? It was the realisation Jesus was with them, and that the strange thing was the work of God, not some ghost or demon.
It is wonderfully cheering to discover that in all the bizarre and troubling things of life, God is right with us, and He is working through these moments, whether it’s a shipwreck or trials in our marriage. We might be taken way out of our comfort zone, or feel like we are facing death, but to realise this is God at work, and God is right at hand for us, we can have great comfort and cheer.
So friends, in all those disturbing and challenging situations you face right now, recognise that God has promised to be with you, and never to abandon you. God is at work and can work good out of all things. God is delivering you spiritual blessings that surpass all the trials of this life, but He also offers you His protection and angelic help in life’s situations.
Take stock of that and choose to settle your heart in faith in God, and Cheer Up!