The folks with whom I attend church are a joyful people. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t want to be with them, either in church or in heaven. But when I see their faith in action, I often think, “Where that person is going, I want to be.”
In the Bible, the Psalmist declared, “In thy presence (meaning the Lord’s) is fulness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).
God’s plan of salvation, sometimes called the plan of happiness, is designed to take us to the presence of the Father and the Son, there to experience a fullness of joy. We are children of our Heavenly Father. Happiness may be part of our very nature, as it is part of God’s nature.
In a world where religion and devotion to God are considered by too many to be irrelevant or restrictive, if considered at all, it may be surprising to find a doctrine which declares that “men (meaning men and women) are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
But there it is, in the joyful scripture called the Book of Mormon, whose pages are filled with witness of Jesus Christ, Savior and Redeemer. Could it be that we were created to experience happiness and joy in this life and in the next?
Clearly happiness does not mean the absence of adversity. We all know people who have been refined and have become more fit for heaven, as it were, through trials. Some people are embittered by adversity, while others are of good cheer and cultivate godlike attributes in the midst of trial.
The resurrected Jesus spoke to all of us when he said to his apostles in love: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:10-11).
Interestingly, Christ’s promise of a fullness of joy was spoken after He had suffered the agony of Gethsemane and overcome the cruel torture of Calvary.
The prophet Joseph Smith, no stranger to persecution for his faith in Christ, declared: “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”
We are wise to learn and to keep the Lord’s kind commandments. He would no more give us a bad one than I would give my grandkids bad directions to my home. Our happiness now lies in following the gospel of Jesus Christ — in having faith in Him, believing Him, coming unto Him, and becoming more like Him.
I am a senior citizen and have observed among my happiest peers that their joy most often is expressed in terms of family and loved ones. Vacation trips often are taken to where the grandkids are. Some even retire to a place where their children are near. There is joy in righteous family life.
The Apostle John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). And families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father’s plan.
Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said, “This is the church of happy endings.” But it is evident that joy should be our daily walk, and not just some far-off reward for slogging through life.
In a wonderful way, we can choose to be joyful now and look forward to a fullness of joy in the eternities.On Faith columnist Alfred Gunn, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Gig Harbor, can be reached by email at email@example.com.