Elder Neal A. Maxwell gave a talk years ago entitled “Be of Good Cheer.” One might ask, in this day and age, “How does one go about being of good cheer? How is it possible?” This talk gave me much to think about.
Elder Maxwell says:
Jesus has given that same instruction [to “be of good cheer”] to others before, when the stressful circumstances in which they found themselves were anything but cheerful. For instance, he told the original Twelve to be of good cheer when, on the surface, there was nothing to be cheerful about….[H]ow could Jesus expect the Twelve to be of good cheer? Because, the Savior said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33; emphasis his.)
With such discouraging, depressing, despairing events soon to transpire, Jesus Christ gave instruction to his apostles that must have seemed impossible as they moved through those events. They likely did not understand His final phrase, “I have overcome the world.”
Elder Maxwell continues:
Because Christ had overcome the world, the Atonement was about to be accomplished! Death would be irrevocably defeated! Satan would have failed to stop the unfolding plan of salvation! All mankind would be given—through the grace of God—immortality! Additionally, for those who would earn it, there would be the richness of eternal life! These were among the resplendent realities and the fundamental facts which justified the Twelve’s being of good cheer—not their grim, temporary circumstances! The precious perspectives of the gospel give to us this gospel gladness!”
Ah! Now we see. And gradually the Twelve saw, too.
It isn’t always easy to consistently be of good cheer. There are days when temptations and trials and afflictions threaten to get the best of us—days when we feel we have been given more than we can bear. And yet:
Thus we see, brothers and sisters, how we are justified in being of good cheer for ultimate reasons—reasons to be distinguished, however, from proximate circumstances. If, for instance, our attitude towards life depends upon the praise of men, the level of interest rates, the outcome of a particular election or athletic contest—we are too much at the mercy of men and circumstance. Nor should our gratitude for the gift of mortal life depend upon the manner in which we die, for surely none of us will rush eagerly forward to tell Jesus how we died!
Instead, Jesus calls upon us to have a deliberate trust in God’s unfolding purposes, not only for all humankind but for us individually. And we are to be of good cheer in the unfolding process.
Keeping an eternal perspective is absolutely essential in getting through this mortal life, intact and with good cheer, learning the lessons that our Heavenly Father would have us learn. Life isn’t always easy, but it isn’t always hard, either, and those respites can give us a breathing space to stop and remember our blessings and our knowledge and to remind ourselves of eternity. The things of eternity are far more important than the things of this world. It is just that right now we are in the midst of the things of this world and so it requires effort and focus to remember that this is not all that there is.
Elder Maxwell’s talk is encouraging and instructive. It gives me hope and reminds me to do my part—and to be of good cheer in the process.
– By Mary A.
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