Be of Good Cheer

We live in a very negative society. The news almost focuses on things that have went wrong. The stories that our friends tell us are almost always about something tragic. With all the negative stories out there, it is a wonder that we are all not depressed most of the time. However, we must realize that there is good news mixed in with the bad news that can cause to be of good cheer.

 

For example, I read about wedding where a man tripped on the brideís train as she walking down the aisle and how some of the family members were bickering. Now one could focus on the negative things that happened, but instead we could also focus on something beautiful that happened, which was far greater than a bit bickering and tripping. A man and women that loved each other were married that day.

 

As Christians, we certainly should be able to be of good cheer most of Christian lives especially when we can see the big picture. No matter, what bad things may be going on in our lives, no matter how badly someone may be treating us, we can know that God loves us and will be there for us in our time of need. Now I am not saying that we will not experience difficult time or that we will not be depressed at times, what I am saying is that we will can lift ourselves out of that bad times by focusing on the good things that are happening and by focusing on God Almighty and what He offer us.

 

Consider what Paul wrote in:

 

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.8  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.10  But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

Paul is teaching us why we should be people that rejoice and how we can be people that rejoice. Obviously, we should be people that rejoice always because we are in the Lord. We are saved people with the hope of heaven as our home. We can know will all confidence that God loves us and will always be there for us, which is why we should not be anxious about things that are happening in our lives.

 

If we start struggling with rejoicing Paul tells us we need to pray to God and turn our problems over to Him. When we do this, it will bring us peace because we know God is listening to our problems and to our request and that He will answer our prayers in a way that will work out for the best.

 

When can remind ourselves that God will be there to strengthen us in our time of need, then it will make it much easier for us to deal with the problems of life and make it to where we can find something to rejoice about. Notice what James says:

 

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

 

This may sound foreign to us, but James says we should count as a joy when fall into various trials. Why? Because it produces patience. When you look through Bible, you will see over and over again that the trials that people went through almost always caused them to grow stronger in their faith in God. So, while trails are not pleasant, we can find joy in them and be of good cheer knowing that we can use them to increase our faith in God. As Paul said:

 

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

 

Since problems always seem to pop in our lives, letís look at examples of problems that some had in the Bible and see what can learn from them.

 

Our fist example comes from Moses:

 

Numbers 11:11 So Moses said to the LORD, "Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?12 "Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,' to the land which You swore to their fathers?13 "Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, 'Give us meat, that we may eat.'14 "I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me.15 "If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now -- if I have found favor in Your sight -- and do not let me see my wretchedness!"

 

Moses was at his wits end. He was overwhelmed because he had been given the great responsibility over these people and all they did was complain. He was so sick of it he wanted God to end his life if things were going to stay the same.

 

Some that may have been in Moses shoes may have just given up and walked away or taken their own life, but Moses did not do this. Even though he we was feeling overwhelmed he went to God in prayer and told him the problem. Notice Godís response:

 

Numbers 11:16 So the LORD said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you.17 "Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.

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God will not allow us to bear more that we can handle. In this example, he shared Moses responsibility with 70 other men. We can rest assured that if we are having a similar struggle that if we pray to God and pay attention that He will provide us some form relief as well. One thing we can learn from what God provided Moses is something that we can implement in our own lives. If we feel overburdened with responsibilities, we must learn to share some of the responsibilities with other people. It does not matter if we talking about your duties at your work place or work for the Lord. If get overwhelmed you are not be effective working for anyone. So, let us learn to go to God with our problems and learn to share some of our responsibilities with others when there are more than we can handle.

 

Our next example comes from Joshua when he was not able to defeat Ai.

 

Joshua 7:4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai.5 And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.7 And Joshua said, "Alas, Lord GOD, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all -- to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!8 "O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies?9 "For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?"

 

Joshua was expecting an easy win against this small group of people at Ai, but when it did not happened Joshua starts blaming God for their defeat. Sometimes God is the first person the people blame when things go wrong, but if they would take a closer look at their circumstance, they may find out that something else is the blame. This is Joshua found it when he prayed to God because God tells him what the real problem is:

 

Joshua 7:10 So the LORD said to Joshua: "Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?11 "Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.12 "Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.

 

So, sin was what was keeping from defeating Ai. As soon as they took care of the sin, then they were able to defeat Ai. When problem happen in our life, do not every blame God for it, instead realize that God is there to help you and make it to where you can be of good cheer even during the problem time. As we work our way through our problem we need to determine is it sin in our life that is causing the problem. If it, we need to take care of it.

 

Another example of a man who found himself in trouble was Elijah shortly after he killed all those false prophets of Baal. Jezebel was after him and he felt all alone.

 

1 Kings 19:4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"

 

Even when God was in His presence he said:

 

1 Kings 19:14 "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

 

How many times have you felt like Elijah and thought you were alone with your problem and that no one else seemed to care. Though Elijah felt this way, he was not alone because God was right there with Him. Besides, God tells him:

 

1 Kings 19:15 Then the LORD said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria.16 "Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.17 "It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill.18 "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."

 

Though there were 7000 others that shared his cause, even if there were none, Elijah still will not been alone because God was on His side. Even if you find yourself in a situation where it seems that no one cares and no one is sharing your cause, God will always be there so you are never really alone. You can also rest assured that your problem is not unique because someone somewhere had dealt with the same problem or one worse. As Peter says:

 

1 Peter 5:9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

 

As we get back to our example with Elijah, we learn that God basically tells him to stop drowning in your self-pity and get to work. If all we do is mediate on a problem and do not do anything to deal with it our get our mind of it, it will consume us. So, the best thing we can do is to get busy and continue living our lives for God.

 

Being of good cheer is something we can train ourselves to do. Consider this short poem called :

The Deacon's Thanksgiving

Old Deacon Bedell was the cheeriest man you'd meet with in many a day;

He 'lowed that the Lord had a pretty good plan for running the world, and he'd say:

"I'm thankful that things are about as they are - they could be a mighty sight wuss;

An' the things we've complained of the loudest so far have proved to be blessin's to us."

 

When other lamented the drought, he'd reply: "It's better than havin' a flood,

An' we ought to thank God when the weather is dry that we don't have to waller in mud!"

Yet, when it was stormy he'd never complain, but say with immutable trust:

"The Lord in His goodness has sent us the rain to lay this discomfortin' dust."

 

When adversity smote him, it fell like the dew on a mountain's impervious crest,

For his simple philosophy held to the view that everything worked for the best

And for other's misfortunes he always could find such sweet consolation to give,

It seemed that he envied the halt and the blind, the lives they were destined to live.

 

One day he was caught in a threshing machine; it cost him a leg, but he said:

"That's getting off cheaper than some I have seen, I'm thankful it wasn't my head!"

And always thereafter he stumped on a peg, or patiently went with a crutch,

 

Declaring: "I'm saving a lot on that leg - My socks only cost half as much."

 

When his end was approaching, he said with a smile, as they folded his hands on his breast:

"I've worked pretty hard a considerable while, and I'm thankful to get a good rest."

So, he went through the world strewing smiles on his way, and the neighbors surviving him tell

That, no matter what happened, it seemed every day was Thanksgiving to Ezra Bedell.

 

- Author Unknown -

 

Like this poem illustrates, we need to find the good in every situation. The more we can we can focus on the positive the better off we will be. As:

Proverbs 15:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

 

Also:

 

Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.

 

Feeling bad about things and staying in a sad state can completely break your spirit and even make you ill. However, when you learn to laugh and find joy in the middle of trouble it always lightens the load and helps you to see the brighter side of life. Having a merry heart is certainly good for the heart and our disposition on life.

 

Even Jesus told Paul to be of good cheer even though he was in prison:

 

Acts 23:11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome."

 

Paul learned to see that even more good things could come from his imprisonment:

 

Philippians 1:12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

 

When we look hard enough we can always find a reason to be of good cheer. For example, think abut the song "Count Your Many Blessings" If we find ourselves feeling low about the problems we are going through start counting all the blessing you have received in your life and those blessings that are promised to us when remain faithful and I can promise they will far outweigh the problems you are having to deal with.

 

Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

 

Everyday God blesses us with good things and we need remind ourselves of this and rejoice in our Lord daily knowing that He is involved in our lives every single day. I want to share with you one last poem that gives us a good thought about being of good cheer:

 

Drinking From My Saucer

by John Paul Moore (1970)

 

Iíve never made a fortune, and itís probably too late now.

But I donít worry about that much, Iím happy anyhow.

And as I go along lifeís way, Iím reaping better then I sowed.

Iím drinking from my saucer, Ďcause my cup has overflowed.

 

Havenít got a lot of riches, and sometimes the goingís tough Ė

But Iíve got loving ones all around me, and that makes me rich enough.

I thank God for His blessings, and the mercies Heís bestowed.

Iím drinking from my saucer, Ďcause my cup has overflowed.

 

I remember time when things went wrong, my faith wore somewhat thin.

But all at once the dark clouds broke, and the sun peeped through again.

So Lord, help not gripe about the tough rows Iíve hoed.

Iím drinking from my saucer, Ďcause my cup has overflowed.

 

If God gives me strength and courage when the way grows steep and rough

Iíll not ask for other blessings; Iím already blessed enough.

And may I never be too busy to help others bear their loads.

Then Iíll keep drinking from my saucer, Ďcause my cup has overflowed.

 

If we will open our eyes to what God does for us everyday, we too will see that our cup has overflowed with the love of God. When we really mediate on how awesome our God really is and what He does for us and will do for us, we will have not problem being of good cheer. There are many verses I could close this lesson with, but the one that comes to mind is the well-known Psalm 23:

 

Psalm 23:1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

 

Adapted in part from a sermon at La Vista Church of Christ.