Continuing on with this series of posts on what reasons the scriptures tell us we have for being of good cheer...
Next is an instance in D&C 61. The background for this revelation was a situation in which the elders of the restored church were traveling down the Missouri river in canoes and many dangers of were encountered, along with Brother Phelps receiving an open vision of the destroyer riding upon the waters, as well as some disagreements and ill feeling. They had to take the time to make peace and reconcile with each other, and along with the dangers, must have felt somewhat cast down and forsaken by the Lord. Thus the following verse as revelation to Joseph Smith must have been particularly appreciated:
And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you; (D&C 61:36, emphasis added)
This can help us be of good cheer, showing that even if we feel like the Lord has forsaken us, He hasn’t. We are all liable to get into situations that are so unpleasant, when perils threaten and it seems that everything we do just makes it worse, when there is screaming and crying, slamming doors, sulking, and so on. We may ask ourselves, “Why would the Lord ever want to stay with me in this situation?”
Just because we can’t feel Him near doesn’t mean that He isn’t. He doesn’t give up on us (“I have not forsaken you”) and can be with us, even if we can’t tell He’s there (“I am in your midst”).
I especially like that in the above verse the Lord addresses the elders as “little children” because it is an indication that He knew they were trying to be meek and teachable like little children. Little children get into trouble occasionally, but that doesn’t mean one gives up on them.
Next instance of cheer.. When the Lord gave the law of consecration, He also included this particular verse:
And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours. (D&C 78:18, emphasis added)
Sometimes in our spiritual progression, our desires exceed our abilities and what we hope for exceeds what we are prepared to do. Some obedience comes easy and some comes very hard. From time to time we will find ourselves saying with Nephi, “Oh wretched man that I am” and sorrowing over the sins and temptations that seem to beset us so easily, when we wish we could rejoice.
I believe that the above verse is meant to help us in that kind of discouraging time. In it the Lord acknowledges that we can’t bear all things now. He gives us a reason to be of good cheer by assuring us that He will lead us along. He will give more training, more practice, more experience, and even chasten us until we can bear the full and eternal weight of glory. Following His lead calls for our best efforts, but isn’t impossible. And not only that, but the news that the kingdom, the blessings, and the riches of eternity are ours is very heartening, like the promise of an extra wonderful vacation in store after you get back alright from scout camp. And too, the promise that it is already there for us can buoy us up especially when we think we have lost it somehow.
So, to review. We can be of good cheer because:
11. The Lord has not forsaken us.
12. The Lord is in our midst.
13. The Lord will lead us along.
14. The kingdom, the blessings, and riches of eternity are ours.