"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."—John 16:33.
Constantly aware of their own imperfections and shortcomings, it is not surprising that the children of God often feel greatly cast down and almost discouraged. The more we look into the perfect law of God, the more we feel our inability to measure up to its requirements. And as we look at the noble example of Christian character presented in the Scriptures, we seem to forget that, with the exception of the perfect example, they were all men and women imperfect like ourselves, and like ourselves earnestly struggling against the downward current of a fallen nature.
It was to such that Jesus said, Be of good cheer. He knew the imperfections of these his disciples; he knew how they would all shortly forsake him through fear, and leave him alone to suffer and die. Yet Jesus loved them, and declared that his Father also loved them. "The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God" (v. 27). As we read the loving words of counsel, encouragement and warning, and the fervent prayer of our Lord for these disciples, whom he was about to leave in the world, we are constrained to say, Behold how he loved them!
And then we find that his disciples of to-day—you and I—were also mentioned in that prayer when he said "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." Then too we see how his love reached out to all the world, when he added—"that the world may believe that thou has sent me." Though his own soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, his heart yearned with compassion for the beloved ones whom he was serving at the cost of his life. He knew the temptations, the persecutions, and the painful crucifying of the human nature, which they must all undergo before they would be prepared to be with him in glory, and he had compassion for them.
Though eighteen hundred years have passed since Jesus left his little flock to follow in his footsteps in the narrow way, his love has not grown cold. With deepest interest he watches our course, and rejoices with us as the time draws near for our union with him in glory. Every trial we cheerfully and lovingly bear for his dear sake—the Truth's sake, endears us the more to him, and brings us into closer union and fellowship. Though our copy of the Master's example is very imperfect, because of inherited weaknesses, it is accepted as perfect, because our desire and effort is to make it so, our deficiency being all covered by the Redeemer's merit—"Be of good cheer" therefore; "I have overcome." His perfection is imputed to us through faith. And now this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Without faith it is impossible to overcome.