Be of Good Cheer :: January 2023

From the close of one year to the opening of another the one constant in life is change. However, there are some things that never change. One is that God is always God, and another is that His word is always true. Nothing in our experience is without God’s foreknowledge. I’m reminded of our studies in the book of the Acts of the Apostles where God said to Paul, “…, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. (Acts 23:11) Paul was told that God had a mission for him that would require him to be in Rome. By God’s word, Paul was assured of his getting to Rome, yet he would spend the entire journey at the mercy of his captors.

What God didn’t say was, there will not be some ups and downs along the way. Like Paul, we may have suffered personal abuse, storms, shipwrecks, and a few poisonous bites but, glory to God we are overcoming. Sometimes we are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then there are those moments of complete darkness. While being transported as a prisoner on a ship to Rome, Paul and his comrades were hit with a violent storm. There was a period when they had no control nor any references to where they were or where they were going. “And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.” (Acts 27:20) This represents the moments in our lives when we are compelled to walk by faith and not by sight. No one wants these challenges and rightly so. It is during such times that remembering that God does not lie becomes essential to our comfort.

When the storm rendered Paul and the 275 other souls onboard to a point of total disparity, Paul spoke the most powerful words of his journey, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (Acts 27:25) Do you believe God, or are you more inclined to believe-in-God? Some believe-in-God but have no true connection with God. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19) Such belief-in-God subjects one to the storms of life. To believe God is a matter of faith proven by trust. Paul was told that he would testify in Rome. No storm, mob, shipwreck, or viper could change that. However, to make the journey without undue stress, “faith,” was, and is the answer. Because Paul believed God, he could live the words, “be of good cheer,” and boldly continue his journey.

Let’s do the same as we take on another year. Surely there will be trials, tribulations, and treachery, but what is life if we are not there to weather the storm in the ship of our faith, Christ Jesus our Lord?  We are simply traveling to our port of departure as many have before us and many, God willing, shall after us. For the time being remember our Captain’s words, “Let not your heart be troubled:(be of good cheer) ye believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1) The disciples were told of Him whom they believed in and challenged to elevate their understanding of Him whom they must believe and also obey (walk by faith). Jesus closed this passage of Scripture with these words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:14)