My last article explained the difference between happiness and joy. While it was published after general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was actually written before general conference. I was amazed during general conference at some very pointed references to the word joy, which went right along with my thinking as I wrote that article.
In my article, I tried to point out that the things that bring joy to my heart are things that are gospel-related, or Heavenly Father’s creations. I came to the conclusion that happiness is temporary or short-lived, but joy is permanent because it is based on eternal principles.
We can feel enduring joy when our Savior and His gospel become the framework around which we build our lives. … Joy is not fleeting pleasure or even temporary happiness. Joy is enduring and is founded on our efforts being accepted by the Lord (Elder Terence M. Vinson, “True Disciples of the Savior,” (Oct. 2019 General Conference).
Elder Vinson’s point is that if true joy comes from following the Savior and living the gospel with total commitment, then we shouldn’t be putting off our total commitment to the gospel. Why would we want to put off that joy? Why would we want to be counterproductive to our own joy?
Elder Vinson was not the only one who spoke of joy in general conference. Elder Christofferson’s whole talk was about joy. I highly recommend thoroughly studying his talk, as it is an excellent road map to achieving eternal joy.
It is in turning to Him, obeying Him, binding ourselves to Him that trial and sorrow are turned to joy. … Now, as accountable beings, we find joy in overcoming misery in whatever form, whether it be sin, trial, weakness, or any other obstacle to happiness. … [T]he joy “set before us” is the joy of assisting the Savior in His work of redemption. … The fruits of our service to one another in the Church are part of the joy “set before us.” 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. … With President Russell M. Nelson, I testify that joy is a gift for faithful Saints “who have endured the crosses of the world” and who are “intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “The Joy of the Saints,” Oct. 2019 General Conference (citations omitted)).
I’ve thought a lot about how sorrow is turned to joy. We all have sorrow in our lives at some point. I’ve had my share. My sorrow isn’t the same as my neighbor’s, and it isn’t the same as yours. Each of us has our own cross to bear, and it isn’t productive to compare sorrows one with another. Productivity comes in learning how to bear our individual sorrows and turn them into joy. We do that through our faith in Jesus Christ, and we hope for better days to come. We put our hopes and dreams in the Savior. Through Him, we can return to our heavenly home, to loving Heavenly Parents. Through Him, we can be united with our families in the eternities. Through Him, we find eternal joy.
In a paradoxical way, afflictions and sorrow prepare us to experience joy if we will trust in the Lord and His plan for us. … Sorrow coupled with hope in Jesus Christ holds the promise of enduring joy. … Trusting God may not always feel safe at first, but joy follows. … If we are faithful in keeping our covenants, we too will one day arrive safely home and will bow before the Lord and shed tears of joy for the multitude of His tender mercies in our lives, including the sorrows that made space for more joy. … I witness that Jesus is the Christ. He is the source of all joy. His grace is sufficient, and He is mighty to save. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. He will not let us perish” (Elder L. Todd Budge, “Consistent and Resilient Trust,” Oct. 2019 General Conference).
My study of the difference between happiness and joy has given me new perspective on how I approach living the gospel. As Elder Vinson said, it is in our commitment to the gospel that we begin to find that peace and joy we all desire. By throwing ourselves into the work of the Savior, we begin to find ourselves. We become more like the Savior. A note on my personal calendar to call a sister in need doesn’t bring joy to my heart, but the actual call to that sister does. By procrastinating that call, I am procrastinating not only the service I give, but also my own joy. Wallowing in my sorrow serves only the interest of self-pity, but when I pull myself up and serve others, I can and will find joy.
Committing to the gospel of Jesus Christ, following the Savior, striving to become more like Christ, serving our brothers and sisters—this is how we find peace in our lives and eternal joy.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.