“Be of Good Cheer”
A ROARING tempestuous wind rushes down on the ship, violently seizing the vessel. Like a cork bobbing crazily, the ship is tossed about in the raging sea. At a time such as this, how could anyone be of good cheer?
Faced with just such a circumstance during a sea voyage to Rome, the apostle Paul told imperiled men: “Be of good cheer.” (Acts 27:14-22) The apostle was confident that not even one life would be lost because he believed the divine promise made to him: “Have no fear, Paul. You must stand before Caesar, and, look! God has freely given you all those sailing with you.”—Acts 27:24.
Though not in danger of experiencing shipwreck in a turbulent sea, we today live in a world filled with turmoil and trouble. Many people are disheartened, depressed, discouraged, and they feel helpless in the face of mounting problems. Can we be of “good cheer” at a time such as this?
Because of God’s promise, the apostle Paul was of good cheer during a seemingly hopeless situation. Therefore, it logically follows that our being of good cheer depends on what the Creator has in mind for us. The earth’s potential for superabundantly satisfying all man’s needs proves that Jehovah God wants us to be of good cheer. Even idol-worshiping men at Lystra (Asia Minor) were told: “[God] did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts to the full with food and good cheer.”—Acts 14:17.
Yes, despite unpleasant aspects of life, there is much that can bring us pleasure. Included are such common things as a fine meal, a gorgeous sunset, a walk through a beautiful park and a hike in a forest. Furthermore, while our present circumstances may not be ideal, we have God’s assurance that he will bring an end to wickedness and will remove from mankind all sorrow, anguish, sickness and even death itself.—Rev. 21:4.
When we do not allow the problems of the present to blind us to the many good things around us and the marvelous future that God has in store for his servants, we can be cheerful. As Proverbs 15:15 says, we can enjoy a “feast constantly.” Negative aspects of life fade into the background when personal blessings and God-given hope occupy one’s thoughts.
A cheerful attitude also helps an individual to put up with hardships. Since one does not brood about them, difficulties are easier to bear. Cheerfulness prevents a person from magnifying the faults of others and tends to make him more tolerant of their shortcomings. Because a person’s thinking is not unduly negative, he is less inclined to gossip and to grumble. This can affect the individual’s health for good, as it keeps in check such hurtful emotions as hatred, anger, jealousy, revenge and ill will. In his book Cancer, Dr. J. E. Hett points out that love, cheerfulness and gentleness promote a person’s well-being. This harmonizes fully with the Bible proverb: “A heart that is joyful does good as a curer.” (Prov. 17:22) Moreover, the happy, contented person can cheer up others.
There is wisdom in shifting one’s thinking to positive things. The Bible encourages: “Whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” (Phil. 4:8) When such things become the main topic of our conversation, listeners will be built up, yes, cheered up.
Surely, it is well worth the effort to cultivate and to maintain a cheerful disposition, as it contributes to one’s own welfare and that of others. The apostle Paul’s advice during a dangerous storm at sea is good counsel for us in these troublesome times. So, “be of good cheer.”