Have you ever been discouraged? Are you facing discouragement right now? Have you ever felt as though your life were a failure? Have you been frightened about the future? Or do you feel that life is not fair?
Even the apostle Paul was discouraged at times. After he had spoken his final words to the elders at Ephesus, emphasizing that he wanted to finish his race well, he bid them an emotional goodbye. Then, while staying in Caesarea with Philip the evangelist, a prophet named Agabus wrapped his hands and feet in Paul's belt and warned Paul that if he went to Jerusalem, the Jews would bind him and deliver him to the Gentiles (Acts 21:11).
But Paul went to Jerusalem, and just as Agabus had prophesied, he was indeed arrested and incarcerated. So there was Paul, sitting in prison—again. Trouble could have been Paul's middle name. It was always something with the apostle, and he was discouraged. He was concerned about his future. The Bible tells us, "But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, 'Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome' " (Acts 23:11). The word "cheer" is not really the best definition of the original word used here. The fact is that cheerfulness was the outcome of what Jesus actually commanded. A better translation of this verse would be, "Be of good courage, Paul."
This reminds us that God's presence gives us courage. People will help us at times. People will encourage us at times. And God will work through people. But don't look to people for answers. Look to God. Because ultimately it will come down this factor: God is with you. That is something you can be sure of.