At 7:30, she took him from my arms. He laid his chin on her shoulder, and looked back at me. His eyes were misty, and his brow was furrowed. I felt my own heart ripping and my nostrils flaring as I choked down the emotion.
It was a long hallway, but I watched till the lady in the blue uniform turned into the room where our son, Jeshua, was to have surgery.
He was five years old at the time. It was not a serious surgery at all. But, you know how it feels when your kids have health problems that require more than a teaspoon of cough medicine.
Jeshua was nervous. I tried to comfort him with encouraging words. “Son, I know you are afraid, and that is alright. But, this is a time to be brave. Being brave sometimes means you feel scared when you have to do things, but you do them regardless.” I reminded him other times, too, to be brave.
Later in the day, as he gradually revived from the anesthetics, his first words were, “I was brave, wasn’t I, Daddy?”
I slobbered a response with, “Yes, Son, you were very brave. You did good. I am proud of you.”
In that moment, I understood how important it had been for me to tell him to be brave. My encouragement was words he could hand on to.
But, Jeshua’s question opened my eyes to something often repeated in God’s Word. It involves words of encouragement to us. Check out those passages that encourage us to be strong and of good courage. Read where He tells us not to be afraid. Research those good Bible stories about common country people like you and me who were brave during adverse circumstances. Particularly consider where the Lord says to be of good cheer.
First, “Be of good cheer; your sins be forgiven you.”
There are always those who fret over whether God is willing to forgive their sins for salvation as well as sins they commit thereafter. But, the truth of the matter is that God is willing to forgive our sins when we prayerfully demonstrate willingness to confess and repent.
One of the most assuring verses of Scripture states, “Who is a God like unto thee that pardons iniquity…He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” No one is like God who is willing to pardon us our sins and “cast them into the depths of the sea.” To know that and to be assured of it is great encouragement.
Second, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
My Grandpaw used to tease me when I spent the night at his house. “The Boogerman stays around this house at night, Ronnie. Why don’t you go outside and chase him away,” he would say.
I never would go out by myself. I was too afraid. But, if Grandpaw went with me, I would. He would take me by the hand, and we would walk together out the back door into the yard and around the house to chase the Boogerman away. I would do it because I had a person of authority with me.
The reason God’s people need not be intimidated by the adversities of life is because we have The Person of Authority, Jesus Christ, with us. After all, the Lord proved that He had the authority over disease, distress, and death. Yes, we may have dark times to transpire in our lives, but, because of the Lord’s presence with us, we need not be afraid.
Third, “Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”
Think about it. The Lord overcame every adversity. He overcame every temptation. He even overcame death. The Lord never let someone else ruin His life. He never let Satan back Him down. People opposed Him. The forces of hell opposed Him. But, He overcame them all. And, He shares that overcoming effect with us, too.
God tells us to be brave and courageous, for Christian courage reflects trust and dependency on God.
Some day you might ask, “I was brave, wasn’t I, Father?” What will He say?
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.