Friday, June 15, 2012

Why we can be of good cheer (part 3)

Continuing on with this series of posts on what reasons the scriptures tell us we have for being of good cheer...

Next we have Paul imprisoned in Jerusalem:

10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
 11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. (Acts: 23:10-11, emphasis added)

Why is the prospect of testifying in Rome a reason for Paul to be of good cheer after the hubbub made over his testimony in Jerusalem?  It means that he will somehow escape from the Jews who want him dead, and their machinations will be ineffectual.  It means his work as an apostle and missionary isn't done yet, even though it may have looked to him as though it were about to end very soon.

How might this help us be of good cheer today?  Perhaps it can remind us that when we are determined to bear testimony of the gospel no matter what, the result will be one of two things: 1) we may be killed for our testimony, in which case we will have sealed our testimony with our blood and rest with God, or 2) we may be saved by the Lord to testify to others in the future. 

If that sounds really serious, that’s because it is serious.  It’s a very serious and profound kind of cheer that you can’t really appreciate until/unless you have cultivated a deep faith and trust in God.  (I’m not sure I have fully grasped it myself.)  It’s not the kind of shallow cheer that promises smooth sailing for the rest of your days, but the kind of cheer that reminds you that no hurricane will be strong enough to break your anchor cable.

Speaking of boats, on another occasion, Paul is on a boat headed for Rome and there is a terrible storm for many days:

21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
 22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
 23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
 24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cæsar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
 25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (Acts 27:21-25, emphasis added)

Clearly, knowing that no one would die as a result of the storm would be a good reason for all the ship’s passengers to be of good cheer.  Knowing everything is going to work out even when it looks really bad is a great source of cheer and gives strength to do what is required to make it through.  How wonderful to know that it was a direct message from an angel.  

As a side note, I believe that the angel would not have said to Paul “God hath given thee all them that sail with thee” if Paul hadn’t been praying for the rest of the ship passengers as well as himself.  I can believe this of Paul.  Perhaps the ship’s company didn’t pick up on this, but we can. 

This suggests that we can be of good cheer because of the people who pray for us.  There may be people who care for us enough to pray for us even though we may not feel like our association with them is enough to merit their concern for us.  (Heck, I am always floored whenever my mom mentions to me that she prays for me.)  We can put our names on the temple prayer roll and have many saints pray for us; we can be of good cheer knowing that the Lord answers the prayers of the righteous.

So, to review.  We can be of good cheer because:
8. Our work is not yet finished.
9. Things will work out.
10. Righteous people are praying for us.


catania said...

Recently, my family has been going through a bit of a difficult time. I don't want to get into that, but I want to share a bit on the point you made: be of good cheer - Righteous people are praying for us.

When I received some bad news from my dad, my first instinct was to pray. Before praying, I felt a little overwhelmed. My sister and I are the only active, practicing Mormons in our family. Of course, I love my family, and they are good people, but I had this longing, that there would be more faith in my family. I couldn't see how we could get through these trials without more people praying in faith.

As I went to pray, I had a distinct realization. I was not alone in my prayer. I had done a lot of temple work for my family who had passed on. I knew then (when I did the work) that many had accepted the gospel. And I was reminded, again, that there were people who had accepted the gospel and were praying on behalf of our family.

This experience - knowing that I was united with my family in prayer - was super comforting and helped me to be of good cheer.

Michaela Stephens said...

Good point, Catania; there are people on both sides of the veil who are praying for us. Thanks for sharing your experience.