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Joy: The Key to Our Survival

What is Joy? =a state of happiness or felicity, the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation

Google= a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, jubilation, triumph

According to the worldly definitions, all must be right in order to feel such joy. Happiness is directly linked to feelings of joy, thus portraying that our joy is dependent upon our circumstances, privileges, opportunities and our own actions. It also invites us to believe that its momentary, situational and short-lived, like when you cross the finish line of a race first.

President Nelson has taught us a better way to understand the true meaning of joy.

“If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness, we will never know joy. The unrighteous may experience any number of emotions and sensations, but they will never experience joy! Joy is a gift for the faithful. It is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ.”


When the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening —or not happening —in our lives.

Lehi’s life is a great example of choosing and feeling joy amidst the pain and trials of life.

· He was chosen to prophesy to his fellow neighbors in Jerusalem and invite repentance.

· He was chosen to take his family into the wilderness not knowing where to go or how they would survive, leaving behind all of their precious earnings and living in a tent.

· He was chosen to watch his older sons be disobedient and even resentful towards him and his younger sons in an effort to halt their progression.

· Yet, in 2 Nephi 2:25, he teaches his children on his death bed that………

Of all people to exclaim the gift of Joy that is received when focusing on the Savior and His commandments, Lehi was the chosen one to do so.

President Nelson, when given the talk, showed interest in the selected word, joy, as his voice cracked a little and had a definite question at the end.

“Life is filled with detours and dead ends, trials and challenges of every kind. Each of us has likely had times when distress, anguish, and despair almost consumed us. Yet we are here to have joy?

My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

I have seen countless examples of this in my own life. Friends/family who struggle with infertility, death, loss of spousal trust, loss of work, personal health challenges, debilitating anxiety/depression, hopelessness, fear, mental illness the list can go on. Yet amidst those significant hardships I have seen the difference in the focus on these individuals. When the focus is on the trial itself, rather than the hope, healing and comfort the Savior can provide in such circumstances, joy isn’t recognized through conversation, actions or facial brightness. The opposite is true! When the focus is on learning how the Savior would have you use this difficulty to grow yourself or guide others to the light of the Savior, joy can be seen, felt and heard while conversing with these individuals.

There are times that I wonder why? How can you make the choice to focus on the Savior when you’re so overwhelmed?


One example that struck me hard was a friend of mine delivering her baby while on vacation in Florida with her husband 17 weeks early. Her complicated pregnancy up to that point would have never projected such an early delivery, so travel was approved by her doctor here in Utah. While chatting back and forth with her on Marco Polo as she stayed in Florida and her husband came back and forth to attend to their other children and be there with her and their new struggling baby girl, I could see the light and feel of her faith. While she was definitely nervous of the upcoming weeks and all the challenges that would afford their life with this precious daughter of God, she never showed a lack of purpose and joy IN the trial. She taught me a great deal of joy that can be felt IN the moments of our hardest challenges. I’m happy to report that this sweet girl made it through the hardest times of her young life and is no living with her whole family reunited once again in Utah. Coming into this world early does afford a lifelong challenge, I’m hopeful along side her parents, that joy will continue to be felt regardless.


Another example is of my nephew. He was 5 when Jeremy and I were married and I knew something was special about him even then. As I watched him grow up, I watched how he treated others, especially his closest sister. He was respectful, loving and gentleman like. While he did portray competition and occasional rudeness and fighting with his younger brothers, I could tell his heart was always bigger than what others might have allowed him to have. He was on the Hope Squad at school, a team of kids who are trusted by their peers, chosen by their peers, to be a resource in mental frustration starting with stress over school to potential suicidal thoughts. He was chosen to help the special needs children in seminary class better understand the gospel through simple examples and connected well with them.

None of this is to say that he hasn’t struggled. He was on the high school basketball team and spent most of his time on the bench because of who he was, not how he played. He wasn’t “mentally aggressive” enough according to his coach. He also refused to practice during times that were deemed as ‘no practice’ time according to the school district or give up being in choir to attend mandated practices by the coach.

In his family, the children start working when they are 14 years old moving pipe, picking cherries and mowing lawns. Naturally there are consequences that some teenagers might not appreciate with this kind of work. Sacrificing sleep to start work at 4am and sacrificing time with friends so you can catch up on your sleep. His family has taught him the value of hard work and to save for his mission.

A few months ago he received his mission call to serve in Peru. His excitement could be seen and felt in all that he portrayed. He has always had a light, but it has only become brighter since then. A few weeks ago, tragedy struck his upcoming mission dreams as a full sheet of drywall fell off a truck and crushed his fibula, breaking it in multiple places. His recovery after surgery will be long and hard, and his mission may be reassigned/postponed. Yesterday when seeing him for the first time since his accident, I saw the SAME light that he has always had. I was buoyed up by his smile and continued commitment to be joyful amidst his trials!


Eliza R Snow “None but saints can be happy under every circumstance.”

That’s it! Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!

His joy is constant, assuring us that our “afflictions shall be but a small moment” and be consecrated to our gain. 2 Nephi 2:2 Lehi speaking to Jacob about the hardships of being born in the wilderness witnessing the rebellion of his older brothers Laman & Lemuel.

One scripture that was divinely given to me when I was struggling through what I felt like was a devastating trial many years ago was Mosiah 24:13-16……….

With this understanding that God does know ME and he knows YOU too individually, He has helped to mold who we are and the challenges that we will face to be a guide for others. Yet we must continue to heed President Nelson’s counsel,

the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.


Choosing Gratitude to Ensure our Joy

Elder Uchtdorf believes there’s more than these short-sighted definitions of joy. In 2014 General Conference, he teaches us about the difference between being grateful for and grateful in.

Elder Uchtdorf, then a member of first presidency taught us in 2014 General Conference that gratitude leads to a life of joy.

“It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding. Commandments are opportunities to exercise our agency and to receive blessings. Our loving Heavenly Father knows that choosing to develop a spirit of gratitude will bring us true joy and great happiness.”

Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.

This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.


The Savior’s Desires Us to have Joy

In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!

Yesterday was a wonderful day for our family! Cody chose to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The joy that was felt as friends/family/neighbors came to support him was overwhelming that even I cried! I couldn’t help but feel the joy that comes when we’re in the right place at the right time making the right decisions. Looking around and knowing some of the trials in most of the people’s lives in the room, I could still feel of their joy as they joined us in a true celebration of Joy!

Our Savior has an abundance of Joy that He would like for us all to possess, and we truly can have it!

the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

John 16:20-21 Christ speaks…….

We were all born on this Earth under extreme amounts of pressure, some more than others. Some were born in traditional nuclear families, some born in loving families made up of different backgrounds, some were merged by loving parents who desire to care for them. We’re all here and we ALL get to experience this Joy! The gift of life is enough reason to Joy!

Psalm 16:11 … In [His] presence is fulness of joy.”

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