"Be of good cheer." The Lord has commanded us to be cheerful despite our difficulties. He understands the nature of our mortal experience better than anyone, so He is in the unique position to recommend a cheerful attitude to live a hopeful, happy life.
But how are we to do that? It is hard to watch the nightly news without a severe case of heartburn. Things are bad and there is not much hope that they will get better. Books and articles and blogs and newscasts warn us of a world spiraling into darkness and destruction. Even the accounts of the Second Coming of Christ are immersed in prophetic pictures of disasters and suffering.
But Christ, who knew all about this, said:
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33.)
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.)
Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you . . ." (D&C 68:6.)
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.)
This recurrent emphasis comes to us from the Lord because He knows that much of mortality makes cheerfulness difficult, and without the Lord’s injunctions, we might never smile at all. How can we be of good cheer in a world going mad with sin and degradation? Life is often so corrosive and exhausting that many people forsake any hope of happiness.
And yet the Lord said, "Be of good cheer."
Why? What is there about life and the plan by which it operates that can inspire good cheer even in a world of rampant misery? Quite simply, this: Christ overcame the world, and, in the process, He seized control of every manifestation of unhappiness. We are told that a time will come when
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
In the end, the good guys win, the Lord prevails, and joy reigns eternally in the lives of God’s children.
“Because Christ’s eyes were unfailingly fixed on the future, He could endure all that was required of Him, suffer as no man can suffer except it be “unto death,” (Mosiah 3:7.) as King Benjamin said, look upon the wreckage of individual lives and the promises of ancient Israel lying in ruins around Him and still say then and now, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.) How could He do this? How could He believe it? Because He knows that for the faithful, things will be made right soon enough. He is a King; He speaks for the crown; He knows what can be promised. He knows that ‘the Lord … will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. … For the needy shall not alway[s] be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.’” (Ps. 9:9, 18; Jeffery R. Holland—“An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” Oct 99, CR).
In each of the four scriptures quoted at the beginning of this article, the Lord accompanied the instruction to "be of good cheer" with an indication of why such cheer is possible. He announced that we should be of good cheer because (1) He has "overcome the world," because (2) He is "in [our] midst" and has "not forsaken" us, (3) because He is "with [us] and will stand by [us]," and because (4) He will "lead [us] along" and give us "the riches of eternity."
“Rejoice and be Exceeding Glad”
It was because of the victory of Christ that He could say, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven." (Matthew 5:11-12.)
Elder Jeffery R. Holland understood this reality. He declared:
“It is not without a recognition of life’s tempests but fully and directly because of them that I testify of God’s love and the Savior’s power to calm the storm. Always remember in that biblical story that He was out there on the water also, that He faced the worst of it right along with the newest and youngest and most fearful. Only one who has fought against those ominous waves is justified in telling us—as well as the sea—to “be still.” Only one who has taken the full brunt of such adversity could ever be justified in telling us in such times to “be of good cheer.” (Jeffery R. Holland—“An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” Oct 99, CR.)
Thus, Paul said, "I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation." (2 Corinthians 7:4.)
James wrote, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions." (James 1:2, JST.)
Early Christians were able to take "joyfully the spoiling of [their] goods . . . knowing that [they had] in heaven a better and an enduring substance." (Hebrews 10:34.)
Encompassed by problems that could have submerged them under waves of continuous misery, these people were consistently cheerful because of the conquest of Christ.
It is through this joy that comes as we partake of the love of God as manifest in the life and mission and atonement of Jesus Christ that we are ultimately and eternally empowered to be of good cheer.
The Victory is Assured: Therefore We Can Be of Good Cheer
So be of good cheer! The victory is assured. Christ overcame the world and won the crown. Heaven and joy are not impossible goals. The path is narrow, "but it lieth in a strait course . . ." (2 Nephi 9:41), and the Lord will save "a great multitude which no man [can] number." (Revelation 7:9.)
One day our lives will be appraised. Our final evaluation and the notice of our salvation and our opportunities for the happiness of heaven will be announced by the Lord Himself and no one else at the judgment bar, for "he employeth no servant there.