This was the talk I gave in church yesterday. I think it went well. You never know. Everyone will always tell you that you did a good job, but I decided to believe that they were sincere. I think it did go pretty well. At the very least, I know I did my best. And that is all I can do.
One neat thing was when I stood up to give my talk, my friend who was holding my little guy said that as soon as he heard my voice over the microphone that he turned around and looked at me. I remember seeing him look at me and that brought a smile to my face while I was trying to give my talk.
side note, leaders in my church are often referred to as Elder or President, so that is what you will see written here.
Finding Joy in Life
We are here on this earth for a divine purpose. We came here to be tried and tested. Not to be “endlessly entertained” or to be in constant “pursuit of pleasure”. So, if, as the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi declared in 2 Nephi 2:25 “men are that they might have joy”. How do we obtain that joy while dealing with the trials and difficulties that come our way? Because although we are meant to have joy, we also know “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Ne 2:11)
In Elder Scott’s talk: Finding Joy in Life (ensign 1996), he said, “Sadness, disappointment, and severe challenge are events in life, not life itself.” While these events or challenges in our lives are difficult and at times seemingly never ending, we cannot let them “become the confining center of everything [we] do”.
What trials or challenges might any of us here currently be facing? Difficulty in school or work? Challenges in our marriage or family? Illness? Death of a loved one? Could our patience be waning as we continue to wait for the righteous desires of our heart to be fulfilled? Are any of us weighed down by sin? Could some of us here be questioning our faith in God or struggling to live, and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ?
With these trials we are facing, how in the world are we supposed to find joy in this life? Do we wait until our trial is over? No. We can experience joy now.
Pres. Faust said, “Happiness is not given to us in a package that we can just open up and consume. Nobody is ever happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rather than thinking in terms of a day, we perhaps need to snatch happiness in little pieces, learning to recognize the elements of happiness and then treasuring them while they last.” (Our Search for Happiness", Ensign, Oct. 2000)
Elder Scott said that our joy in life depends upon the faith we exercise in our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and in our level of faith in the ability of God’s plan of happiness to bring us joy.
It doesn’t depend on whether or not life is going on as we had planned. Because if you don’t know already, you will soon discover that life does not usually go as planned.
As the scripture states: “men are that they might have joy”. From this we learn that our joy is conditional upon our actions. We must choose obedience and we must choose faith in God if we are to experience the fullness of joy the Lord has in store for us.
Elder Scott compared our trials to a pebble. If we hold a pebble close to our eye, it seems like a huge, insurmountable obstacle. But, if we cast the pebble on the ground we can see it in its proper perspective. In this perspective we can prevent this pebble or trial from “overtak[ing] our vision, absorb[ing] our energy, [or] depriv[ing] us of the joy and beauty the Lord intends us to receive here on earth.” Are we like “rocks” or “corks” when thrown into a sea of problems? Do we sink like a rock and drown? Or do we fight to be free and bob up like a cork, determined to overcome our challenges?
Elder Scott also said, “The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not.”
We can also find joy in life as we pray in faith, search the scriptures, and as we learn from others who “have made peace with their challenges and live with joy amid adversity”.
Learning from the people of Alma in the Book of Mormon, has given me strength and has taught me to have patience and faith in my trials. The people of Alma were a righteous people who had made a covenant with the Lord to follow Him. Yet, in Mosiah 23: 21 we learn that the Lord saw fit to try “their patience and their faith”. While they were in bondage to Lamanites the people of Alma cried to the Lord for help. As they did so, the Lord promised them, “I will also ease the burdens…that even you cannot feel them upon your backs… and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions…And…the burdens…were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:13-15).
The people of Alma did not “concentrate on what [they] didn’t have or [had] lost”. Counting the blessings we have rather than the ones we don’t have will bring us joy. Elder Scott reminds us that the Lord has promised to share all he possesses with those that love and obey Him. Elder Scott also encourages us to seek out the “compensatory blessings in our life when, in the wisdom of the Lord He deprives you of something you very much want.” This might be added patience and strength much like the people of Alma received. Or it could be a strengthening of testimony as when we see that the Lord does visit us in our afflictions.
We can also find joy in this life as we give willing service and focus on others allowing ourselves to forget our own problems.
Being creative also brings satisfaction and happiness. President Uchdorf teaches us, “We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.” Our creativity does not need to be limited to playing a piano or painting a picture. We can create family memories or happy homes. (Happiness Our Heritage talk)
In the women’s conference I attended yesterday, (Saturday), the theme was “living after the manner of happiness”. President Riding counseled us to trust in God, because as the scripture in Proverbs 16:20 states, “whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.”
“God’s love brings peace and joy” (Elder. Scott). When we trust in God we will feel of His love, and will feel joy. With my most recent seemingly never ending trial of my faith—waiting for a child to come to my family, I found that the times when I placed my trust in God, I was happy and felt joy. God does visit us in our afflictions. He does love us and wants us to be happy.