John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” The Greek word translated cheer means to have courage, cheer, and comfort. Jesus is telling us, His disciples, to not be overcome with fear, dread, worry, depression, and unbelief; but rather to have courage, cheer, comfort, and faith. Why? Because He has overcome the world. He reigns victorious. He has overcome death, Hell, and the grave. All authority is His in Heaven and earth. This is the glorious truth of our standing in Christ.
It is easy to have good cheer when all is well; but what about when there is tribulation? Jesus said in this world we will have troubles. We are essentially in enemy territory. We are citizens of heaven, and Jesus is our King; but we live in a fallen world. This world system is ruled by the prince of darkness, which makes Christians at odds with it. Jesus said, “They hated me - they will hate you also.” However, Jesus said to be of good cheer, even in the midst of this tribulation. So… cheer up! (Dt 24:5)
Jesus often told believers to be of good cheer or good comfort (Mt 9:2, 22, Mk 6:50, Acts 23:11). His disciples did the same (Mk 10:49), as well as Paul the Apostle (Act 27:22, 25, 36). In all of these Scriptures, the people being spoken to were in the midst of some trial, sickness, or tribulation - yet they were told, “Be of good cheer!” You see, according to the truth of The Bible, being of good cheer is not based on the absence of trouble; but rather, it is based on the truth that we are overcomers, even in the midst of trouble. We have a blessed hope, Jesus Christ, the Righteous.
In the 1980s there was a popular song called, “Don’t worry - Be happy!” I’m not saying this was a Christian song, but it contained a Biblical truth: Don’t worry (Let not your heart be troubled - Jn 14:1); Be happy (Be of good cheer - Jn 16:33). However, I have found that the world’s interpretation of this song is more along the lines of, “Whatever. Who cares. Whatever will be will be. Don’t worry about it.” The Christians view of this song should be quite different. It should not be a lazy, indifferent, “throwing up of the hands”; but should be a true, lasting, comfort and peace based on faith and assurance that God holds us in His hands. Therefore, as Christians, we can truly not be worried and be happy - no matter what our outward circumstances may be at any given moment.
One reason Christians often are no happier than their unsaved neighbors, is because they are caught up in pursuing what the world says makes you happy. The world’s happiness revolves around having bigger houses, newer cars, the latest gadgets, being part of the “in” crowd, being number one, sex, drugs, drunkenness, pornography, endless entertainment, lots of money, and the like. However, the Bible has a totally different concept of what true happiness is. If the Christian would stop chasing what the world chases and believing what the world believes, they would live a happier, more joyful, more peaceful life.
The Bible says God’s discipline makes you happy (Job 5:17), the world disagrees. The Bible says enjoying the labor of your hands makes you happy (Ps 128:2), the world says enjoying the labor of another’s hands is happiness. The Bible says happy is the people who’s God is The Lord (Ps 144:15, 146:5, Prv 16:20, 28:14), the world says happy we’ll be if God was eliminated from our society. The Bible says happy is the man that gets wisdom (reading The Word) Prv 3:13, 18. The world says happy is the man perpetually entertained. Happy is he who has mercy on the poor (Pv 14:21). Happy is he who keeps the Word and does it (Pv 29:18, Jn 13:17). Happy is he who endures (Jm 5:11). Happy is he who suffers for the sake of righteousness (1Pt 3:14, 4:14). Happy is he who testifies of God’s goodness (Act 26:2).
This is true happiness. This is true joy. Jesus spoke these things that our joy might be full (Jn 15:11, 17:13). Our good cheer is rooted in the truth of God’s Word; not a feeling or a circumstance. Don’t let this be just a pep talk. This is the victory that overcomes the world - even our faith. You can truly be of good cheer. You can truly have fullness of joy. It is rooted in the truth. Stand on it in 2012. Don’t be carried away by the flood of deception, depression, fear, anxiety, and fatalism in the world. Be at peace. Trust in God. Don’t worry - be happy!