The Joy of the Saints by D. Todd Christofferson
Content by Sarah Moran
For too many reasons to list, 2019 has been the most difficult year of my life - and the year isn’t even over. I went into General Conference feeling alone, worn out, wounded, and unable to meet the daunting task of dealing with the my challenges. In short, I was broken. I had just one question I desperately needed to be answered at conference. How could I find happiness when life felt so decidedly unhappy?
Happiness and joy were mentioned over and over during conference and each time I was struck by how much our Heavenly Parents are aware of us and want us to have joy.
One pattern I’ve noticed in the scriptures is that the verses that speak about joy are often preceded by verses that speak about trials. It was helpful for me to remember that joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin. As Lehi taught us, there must be opposition in all things. For example, when Nephi and his brothers went to Jerusalem to get the brass plates from Laban they were threatened with death, all of their riches were stolen, the brothers' relationship was filled with contention, and while they were in Jerusalem their parents were in the wilderness worrying about and mourning for their sons. We read in 1 Nephi 5 that when they returned, Lehi and Sariah were “filled with joy.” This is just one time in the scriptures where we can see this pattern of struggles coming before joy. Even when we feel broken we can find comfort and hope in the fact that there is joy waiting for us in the future.
There is much we can learn about joy in the scriptures but perhaps the most well-known reference to joy is in 2 Nephi 2:25 - “Men are that they might have joy.” I wish that five-letter word in the middle of the phrase was italicized. Might. Adam’s fall doesn’t guarantee us joy and life will not automatically be joyful. We’ve been given this life as a time to find happiness. Of course there will be trials. There will be days where we feel pushed to our very limit, but this life is a time to experience joy. Joy is a choice; it doesn’t just happen! We should seek joy and be willing to do the work that is necessary to find it.
Cultivating true joy takes effort, but joy is not out of reach (even during the most difficult year of your life) because joy can be found in both progress and in perfection. Challenges and hardships make it possible for us to know what happiness and joy really are. Ultimately it is only when we let go of “what if” and see the joy in “what is” that we’ll learn that every day can be a happy day--even a day filled with joy!
I AM STATEMENT
I am a daughter of Heavenly Parents who finds joy by becoming Christlike. I am striving to keep the commandments, rely on Christ, and serve others. I am joyful in good times and in bad.
FAITH IN ACTION
Helping to bring others to Christ will bring us joy. This isn’t just about missionary work. We can bring souls to Christ through ministering, through building family relationships, through temple and family history work, and through being a true friend. Who in your life could use a little more joy? Maybe you need more joy. Find a way to serve, to love, or to teach and watch the joy increase in your life and in the lives of those you love.
Elder Christofferson promised us that, “Even in times of discouragement or stress, we can minister patiently if we are focused on the joy of pleasing God and bringing light, relief, and happiness to His children, our brothers and sisters.” This week, find the joy in ministering and commit to doing one thing to bring “light, relief, and happiness” to the people you minister to. Share a favorite scripture along with what makes that passage meaningful to you, offer to help them in their home or with their calling, or let them know what you love and admire about them. Not only will you bring them joy, but you’ll find joy for yourself when you serve as Christ would.
Being joyful is a choice we can make each day as we lean on Christ and seek His grace. Hebrews 4:16 reminds us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” We will all have to endure trials and tragedies in this mortal life and joy is something we can experience all the time despite any challenges we are facing. As a family, discuss times when you have turned to Christ for “help in time of need” and found joy during a time of sorrow. How did your perspective change? What are your thoughts or feelings about the Savior and what He has done for you?
The idea that joy is meant to endure really stuck with me. I loved the reminder that we can have joy, even during times of struggle or sadness, when we choose the right, turn to the Lord, and serve the people around us. Download this bookmark and print it on cardstock to help you remember to choose joy every day. Use it in your scriptures, your wide-margin conference compilation, or anything else you're reading!