Monday Morning Thoughts: ‘Be of Good Cheer’

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A verse of scripture was in my mind when I got up this morning, so naturally, I had to look it up to see where it was. It’s from Mark 14 where Jesus says, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” I knew Jesus spoke these words, but I wasn’t exactly sure when and where He said them, so I had to look them up. What I found was a story that is familiar to us all.

Matthew 14:22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

This passage tells us four things that can be a blessing to us today:

1) Jesus deliberately sent His disciples into the storm

The first thing that stands out to me is that Jesus deliberately sent His disciples into the storm. The Bible says – “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side…” Did Jesus know a storm was coming? Sure He did. He’s God and therefore He knows everything. But if Jesus knew a storm was coming, why did He put His disciples in such danger? Did He not love them?

I’m sure that the disciples must have been asking some of the same questions that night. “Where is Jesus? Why did He send us out here? Why isn’t He here with us? And why doesn’t He come to help us?” Which brings us to the second important truth in this passage.

2) Jesus was praying for His disciples as they entered the storm 

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.” Long before the disciples knew a storm was coming, Jesus was already praying for them. What did He pray for? I believe that He prayed that through this storm – they would learn to trust Him more. Notice that I said ‘learn’ to trust Him more.

Faith is like a muscle that has to be developed. None one gets all the faith they need in a single blessing. Our faith in Christ grows as we encounter the storms of life.

Think for a moment of an athlete and how they train in order to be better. Every day they push their bodies to the limit so that that their muscles will get stronger and their skills more developed. If you’ve ever trained as an athlete, you know that these daily practices aren’t fun. Their grueling and sometimes those training want to quit. But if they stay with it and continue to train, over time they become a better athlete.

The Bible says – “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” (Hebrews 12:11-13)

What we’re going through right now isn’t fun. It’s painful. And, if we will face the truth, it may become even more painful before it’s all over. But look carefully again at these verses. The pain we’re going through has a purpose. God has allowed this storm to come into our lives in order to make His church stronger. We’re all in the gym where God is exercising our faith.

3) Jesus went to His disciples during the ‘fourth watch of the night’

“Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.” Do you know what the fourth watch is? It’s somewhere between 3 am and 6 am. That means the disciples have been in the storm most the night. They had been fighting the waves and screaming for help for hours. Why did Jesus wait so long to come and rescue them? I can think of at least two reasons:

a) Jesus had to show the disciples that they couldn’t manage the storm on their own

Don’t forget, some of the disciples were experienced fishermen. Therefore, no doubt, for a while they thought that they could handle the storm on their own. But then, as time went on and the storm became more severe, even they realized that there was nothing that they could do to rescue themselves. If God didn’t help them, there was no help.

b) Jesus had to show the disciples that He can handle every storm

“Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.” Get this picture in your mind. The storm is still raging. The winds are still blowing and the waves are still crashing. Jesus must have been drenched from head to foot. But nevertheless, He was walking on top of the waves. He was conquering the storm!

4) Jesus reassured His frightened disciples by saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

Mark 14:25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

What would you call Jesus walking on the water? I would call it a miracle. Nothing short of a supernatural miracle can explain what the disciples saw that night. But think about that for a moment. It took a terrible storm in order for a supernatural miracle to occur. If Jesus had stopped the storm with the first drop of rain, the disciples would have never seen a miracle. If the disciples had safely reached the other side ‘without the help of Jesus’, they would not have witnessed the supernatural. It took a terrible storm in order for the disciples to see the real Jesus.

 

We will look at this passage again tomorrow, but for today, let’s jump ahead and see how the story ends. “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” (Mark 14:33) I don’t like anything about this storm we are in. And to be honest, sometimes my heart feels some fear when I think about how severe this storm may become. But knowing that Jesus is praying for us while we are in this storm encourages me. And realizing that this storm is going to produce a time of worship like none of us have ever experienced, excites me. So, until then, let’s not give up. Let’s not let fear or discouragement drown us. Let’s not believe there’s no hope. Let’s believe that Jesus is on the mountain, praying over us today and that the right moment, we’re going to see Him walking on the waves!

 

This is an old song, but it is one that God has used many times in my life to bless me. I pray that it will encourage you today. (Lyrics below)

 

DO I TRUST YOU

Sometimes my little heart can’t understand
What’s in Your will, what’s in Your plan
So many times I’m tempted to ask You why

But I can never forget it for long
Lord, what You do could not be wrong
So I believe You even when I must cry

Do I trust You, Lord? Does the river flow?
Do I trust You, Lord? Does the north wind blow?
You can see my heart, You can read my mind
And You’ve got to know, I would rather die
Than to lose my faith in the One I love
Do I trust You, Lord? Do I trust You?

I know the answers, I’ve given them all
But suddenly now, I feel so small
Shaken down to the cavity in my soul

I know the doctrine and theology
But right now they don’t mean much to me
This time there’s only one thing I’ve got to know

Do I trust You, Lord? Does the robin sing?
Do I trust You, Lord? Does it rain in spring?
You can see my heart, You can read my mind
And You got to know I would rather die
Than to lose my faith in the One I love
Do I trust You, Lord? Do I trust You?

I will trust You, Lord, when I don’t know why
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die
I will trust You, Lord, when I’m blind with pain
You were God before and You’ll never change

I will trust You, I will trust You
I will trust You, Lord
I will trust You, I will trust You
I will trust You, Lord

I will trust You, I will trust You
I will trust You, Lord

 

 

 

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