That They Might Have Joy- Summary

Studying the gospel can be a most satisfying experience. After all, it is meant to be “good news,” and to bring us “tidings of great joy.” It is specifically designed to make us happy and give us hope. Who wouldn’t want to spend time in those joyful places?

In my experience those mission statements of the gospel are not empty promises. The ideas of peace and joy truly do pervade its verses, and the pattern of life for achieving them are well detailed. The common desire of all mankind is to find abiding happiness, and I am convinced that the gospel provides the best, even the only, path to achieving it.

We Are Meant to Have Joy

We very often try to mask our desires. We don’t want to appear selfish by daring to say we want something or the other. In fact we often see the path of discipleship as being one of restraining our indulgences. It is easy to see where the stereotype of religious people being stuffy and passionless arises from! But nothing could be further from the truth. True disciples are all about the pursuit of happiness.
Do we suppress our carnal desires, yes, but for the purpose that we may be truly happy. The short-lived, guilty indulgences that bring momentary happiness are always followed by abiding sorrow, and there is nothing “stuffy” in circumventing those pitfalls. Instead we pursue deep and living joy, and we pursue it vigorously.
Indeed that is God’s entire intention for us. He made us to be ridiculously, inexplicably, rapturously happy! You are supposed to feel good, you are supposed to feel fulfilled, and you are supposed to feel it always.
2 Nephi 2:25- Men are, that they might have joy
Psalm 149:5- Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds

The Joy We Seek Can Only Come From God

We are a creative and ingenious species, always looking to invent new things. That is good, it is by design, it is how we progress and improve as a race. But sometimes we take it to the point where we are trying to reinvent the wheel, looking for new solutions to an already-solved problem.
As God is the author of our very existence, He is also the final authority on what we were made for. The workmanship of a perfect creator will only ever be able to find fulfillment and completeness when it satisfies the ends to which it was created. I, myself, have found that my abiding joy comes as a result of living the purposes for which God has made me.
Though we may try to find joy in other paths, it simply cannot work. Our greatest joys will only occur when following God’s precepts. And to that end, God has cleverly placed a conscience in each of us, by which He guides us whether we know Him or not. I do believe that when we stand before God in the flesh we will finally recognize how He was behind every abiding joy we ever perceived in life.
Doctrine and Covenants 88:19- For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father

God Gives Us Joy That Doesn’t Make Sense

As part of this study I chose to examine the joy I have personally been feeling of late. I wanted to place its source, because it caught me off guard. I frankly didn’t feel like I was justified in feeling as good as I have.
As I conducted this study it dawned on me that inexplicable joy is one of the fundamental promises of the gospel. I should therefore expect unexpected happiness when I try to follow my Savior. This sort of peace and joy will never make sense so long as we view it by worldly metrics, because it does not emanate from a worldly place. The joy that God gives is spiritual, and therefore can only be understood spiritually.
Trusting in the dawning of that joy therefore requires faith. You won’t be able to calculate its coming, so you simply will have to hope that the promise of it will be fulfilled. I can give my testimony that it does.
John 14:18- I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you
John 14:27- Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you

That They Might Have Joy- Moses 1:39, John 17:3, 2 Nephi 2:25

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

COMMENTARY

This is my glory—to bring to pass the eternal life of man
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God

We understand God to be a being that has no restraints upon Him. He is not held back by a lack of power, or time, or by any external compulsion. He is, therefore, the freest being imaginable, and His pleasure is to perform whatever work He chooses.
And with that total freedom what has He chosen to do? To make us, His children, and raise us to life eternal. That “life eternal” is defined by Jesus as knowing God. This means to learn of God while here on Earth, but also to know Him perfectly when we dwell forever in His presence.
But for what purpose? Why does God consider it a personal glory to have us live in His presence and receive of His kingdom? And why should we want that ourselves?

Men are, that they might have joy
The answers to those questions are obvious. God wants us to dwell with Him because He loves us. And we want to dwell with Him because doing so will make us happy.
Even a small child understands that heaven means happiness, which is quite significant because there really is so very little that we know about heaven. And yet amidst all the many, many things that we do not know of it, we do know that it is a place of peace and joy. We know it fervently, so much so that we often use heaven as a synonym for happiness.
Not only that, but this idea of heaven=happiness holds firm across a plethora of different cultures and beliefs. It seems that if people believe in a creator, of any sort, then they also believe that dwelling with that entity is the most joyful existence possible. A joy that puts all worldly pleasures to shame.
God with all His power and all His freedom wanted to make us, His children. And then He wanted to make His children happy. It is as simple as that.
Joy, therefore, is the very reason for our existence.

That They Might Have Joy- Question

Last Sunday I attended a conference for all of our local church branches. I felt deeply filled as I listened to the sermons given. The topic of the whole conference was that of joy, and each speaker addressed a different aspect of it: joy within families, joy through creativity, joy as an abiding peace, etc.

I found myself wanting to do a study of my own on the subject. Each one of us wishes to obtain joy in life, and God has declared that this is what He wishes for us as well. However there are many different ideas in the world for how one attains it: from hedonism, to just letting go of expectations, to applying oneself to meaningful labor.

In this study I would like to examine what joy itself is. I would like to find whether it can be reliably pursued, or whether it just comes and goes on a whim. If it can be pursued, I would like to identify which methods can best secure it for us. Finally, I would like to consider what one can do in those moments where feeling joy seems impossible. As part of this study I will also examine what elements bring me joy in my personal life.

In the meantime I’d love to hear your own takes on the matter. What brings you joy in your life? What destroys it? How do you resolve not feeling joyful, even when nothing bad has happened? How do you resolve feeling joyful, even when you cannot think of a reason why?