We all have trials and tribulations, as part of our mortal probationary period. During hard times, it may sound like an oxymoron to be ‘of good cheer’ when things seem to be going badly. Yet, the Lord expressed on several occasions that, with Him, we can be of good cheer.
In John 16:33, the original Twelve were told to be of good cheer. This was at a time when Jesus’ betrayal, the Garden, mock trial, and His giving of His sinless life on Calvary; then the scattering of those apostles to spread the gospel under uncertain circumstances. How could they be of “good cheer”? Because, Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
That has been a subject for me to think on since I was a little girl. Even at a very young age, I figured, “If Jesus says to be of good cheer, even during my really hard times, then it cannot mean what I ‘think’ it means.” It continues to be a subject for me to study and better understand. Gratefully, I have a better focus now – even though I waver at times – or it takes a bit to catch up to the Savior’s concept when things are dreary!
President Thomas S. Monson once said “The future is as bright as our faith.” Well, then, that should offer me comfort when things are not as bright. The key, I believe, is seeing the silver lining. In knowing the sun is still there, behind the dark clouds. In knowing, like Annie did – in the play of that name – that ‘the sun will come out tomorrow.’
Meanwhile, we can find consolation and a certain sustaining power through the Savior and His saving love and principles. The “good cheer” offered us is not shallow or on the surface only. Not at all. It’s deep inside our hearts. It is connected to our connectedness to Him.
On the American continent there was a time during which, should the prophecy of Christ’s coming into the world not be fulfilled, the members would forfeit their lives. In 3 Ne 1:13, Jesus came to them and told them to be of good cheer, because “On the morrow come I into the world.”
These two examples teach us what we need to understand: good cheer comes because we focus our thoughts, our heart, our lives on Jesus Christ. We cannot fail to be of good cheer if we are continually working on the process of growing more goodness and understanding of the Savior and His guiding principles.
We can have good cheer when we realize that this temporal life will offer challenges and trials – because it gives us a chance to exercise our ability to shake off the ‘natural’ reaction. We may practice acting instead of reacting. We may learn to focus on the Savior, and shift our paradigm enough to deal with the lessons we are given to learn. We can ‘get it’ that events in our life are just that – events. They will come and they will go. How we learn from them, and how we grow from them will help us with the next event that comes along. That is worth cheering for, right?
Like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “Expecting a trouble-free life because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian.”
Unexpected blessings and heavenly compensation may come in amazing ways- in ways we never ever have thought could be – as we seek to ‘be of good cheer’, keeping our eyes on the Savior of the world. It is something we become. As we become more beautifully cheerful, we see “These learning experiences must bet be misread as divine indifference. Instead, such tutorials are a part of the divine unfolding.” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Be of Good Cheer” Oct GC. 1982)
And what a gift it is to unfold as we are divinely led and taught!
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, professional speaker, author, and songwriter. Her undergraduate study at BYU was musical theater. She has a Masters degree in communications. She has taught for CES programs for almost 30 years.