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The skies are gray today. Snow flurries blur the landscape outside the window. Temperatures hover in the mid-teens. The cold creeps through the soles of my shoes and my wool socks—the price I pay for working at my desk, which sits on the floor above our house’s crawl space.

A winter chill blows through my soul too. Financial concerns, family issues, work problems—their icy flakes drift through my mind, blurring my perspective, my focus.

Help, Lord.

Almost immediately a verse comes to mind, one I learned as a child: “In the world,  you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV). Jesus spoke those words to his disciples the night before his crucifixion. I repeat them—once, twice, three times.

How right you were, Lord. In this world, we have tribulation. People I love receive cancer diagnoses. Others get laid off at work. People I don’t know die in terror attacks, drive-by shootings, home invasions, and car accidents. Thousands of refugees flee their war-ravaged homelands. Floodwaters swamp homes and lives. Fires consume buildings and livelihoods. Oh yes, in this world we have tribulation.

Fortunately, our compassionate Savior didn’t leave his disciples in that troubling frame of mind. He added, “But be of good cheer.”

A half-smile pulls at the corner of my mouth. There’s always a “but” with you, Lord. Hours away from an excruciating death yourself—a horrifying event that would bring devastating grief and bewilderment to your disciples—you looked them straight in the eye and said, “Be of good cheer.”

Was there a twinkle in Jesus’s eye when he said it? He knew the grief that would overwhelm his beloved followers, but he also knew the joy that would follow three days later.

“Be of good cheer” is an old-fashioned expression. Most modern Bible translations use “take courage” or “take heart.” It’s not a matter of putting on our happy-face mask to hide our grief-ravaged soul. The word cheer is related to the Greek words for boldness, confidence, and hope. We might use encourage or edify. In essence, Jesus was saying, “Don’t allow tribulation of any kind to dismay or defeat you. I’m more powerful than all of it—even death—so you can remain full of confidence, hope, and peace no matter what happens.”

How do we reach and stand firm on that solid ground? We cling to these truths God gave us in the Bible:

• Our destination is heaven (Revelation 2:7).
• We will live forever with God (Revelation 2:11).
• Jesus will provide delectable, satisfying spiritual food to sustain us (Revelation 2:17).
• Jesus will give us a new name, reflective of who we are in Christ (Revelation 2:17).
• Jesus will give us whatever authority and power we need (Revelation 3:5).
• Jesus will proudly list our accomplishments one day (Revelation 3:5).
• We will reign with Jesus (Revelation 3:21).
• We will lack nothing in heaven (Revelation 3:21).

Gray days will come. But we can prevent them from overcoming us. We belong to the Overcomer. Listen to his words: “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace” (John 16:33 MSG).

So be of good cheer, sister. You are an overcomer too.

Next Step: Read the passages from Revelation listed above. Which one is most impactful? Write it on a sticky note or index card and memorize it.

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Denise Loock

Author Denise Loock

Denise Loock is the author of two devotional books that highlight the scriptural truths of classic hymns and gospel songs, Open Your Hymnal and Open Your Hymnal Again. She is the founder of Dig Deeper Devotions, a website that encourages Christians of all ages to dig deeper into the Word of God. She also speaks at conference centers, luncheons, and retreats.

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