A few meandering thoughts as Spring transforms the world around me. I saw a couple of Robins this week, Dogwood bursting forth in wild bloom as are the Redbud trees; won’t be long before it will be safe to put our tomato plants outside. I found myself smiling for no apparent reason, an expression of joy.
A scripture from the Book of Mormon came to mind, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy”; but define Joy.
My guide to the scriptures has a fairly simple definition, “A condition of great happiness coming from righteous living”. There were references to living in obedience to the commandments and the atonement offered by Jesus Christ which brings a fullness of joy leading me to believe that joy has an eternal nature as well as a lesser form, one which permits us a glimpse of things yet to come while in mortality. Maybe joy has levels in conjunction with the levels of glory; not so far fetched a thought.
I was reading the over view of chapter 41 in Alma regarding the resurrection which explained that men come forth in a state of endless happiness or endless misery as a result of choices made in mortality.
Interestingly, a young girl referenced this very scripture while bearing her testimony this morning. She related how one of her friends had asked if there were some pills which might make her smile all the time, feel good regardless of how bad life’s challenges were.
“Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.”
I contemplated the list of commonly associated synonyms offered in my thesaurus; ones which stood out as least compatible where pleasure and thrill, going by modern interpretation. Others listed were more in line with my perceived meaning of joy; delight, happiness and bliss conjured a vision of the sublime rather than things carnal.
My exploration of joy’s meaning may have been sparked by an item I read on Facebook the other day, a quote from a rather unhappy individual, “We fell sorry for people who don’t drink, cause when you wake up in the morning that’s as good as you’re gonna feel for the rest of the day”. That didn’t fit with my idea of having a great day, much less experiencing joy.
There are many who believe pleasure comes from doing things which are not good for you and often times in direct conflict with eternal principles; however, it’s what sells products and life style enhancements.
It’s difficult to watch nearly any form of entertainment coming out of Hollywood without wincing for the general absence of obedience to the laws of God. There’s a steady parade of debased carnal passions displayed as if these momentary distractions were within reach and would make us happy. No, they offer little if anything worth a shout for joy; quite the opposite. What we reap we sow; isn’t that what Job recorded ?
Thrill seekers, folks living on the edge, doing hazardous stunts which endanger life and property simply to see if it can be accomplished experience an adrenaline rush. All the same, do these bring joy or are they ‘funny money’ for the soul, a hollow promise which can’t be redeemed in the long run?
Returning to the council found in Alma 41, the answer to finding joy is given in summation.
“Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.”
When I was young I learned to appreciate simple things; a beautiful sunset, Queen Anne’s Lace in full bloom while walking along the edge of a field, thunderstorms and the cool breeze which preceded the eminent downpour; all these were gifts from God to be enjoyed, to bring us joy. Part of that joy was in being able to express gratitude; my acknowledgement, a “Thank you, Sir”, for every breath of life which supports me from moment to moment is a gift from above.
What a marvelous thing this mortality is, a chance to learn about the Great Plan of Happiness ; may we take full advantage of each moment for tomorrow is promised to no one. May you find joy in abiding by God’s commandments is my prayer, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Edited March 7, 2010
This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.