“In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalms 16:11
Last summer I had the amazing experience of teaching at EFY. I was an amazing experience! The theme last year was Choose Joy. (here is a link to the theme song, I think you’ll love it!) Since then, I have been doing some consistent study on the idea of finding joy. My life has it’s ups and downs and not every day is filled with joy. There is pain, sadness, and set back. The quest for joy fills much of my time as I try to overcome some of the challenges God has put in my life.
If you want more joy in your life, this will help.
I recently found a talk from Elder Richard G. Scott with some powerful insights into finding joy. I’ve included some quotes from him and some of my thoughts.
Take Time to Find Joy
“Do you take time to discover each day how beautiful your life can be? How long has it been since you watched the sun set? The departing rays kissing the clouds, trees, hills, and lowlands good night, sometimes tranquilly, sometimes with exuberant bursts of color and form. What of the wonder of a cloudless night when the Lord unveils the marvels of His heavens—the twinkling stars, the moonlight rays—to ignite our imagination with His greatness and glory? How captivating to watch a seed planted in fertile soil germinate, gather strength, and send forth a tiny, seemingly insignificant sprout. Patiently it begins to grow and develop its own character led by the genetic code the Lord has provided to guide its development. With care it surely will become what it is destined to be: a lily, crowned with grace and beauty; a fragrant spearmint plant; a peach; an avocado; or a beautiful blossom with unique delicacy, hue, and fragrance. When last did you observe a tiny rosebud form? Each day it develops new and impressive character, more promise of beauty until it becomes a majestic rose. You are one of the noblest of God’s creations. His intent is that your life be gloriously beautiful regardless of your circumstances. As you are grateful and obedient, you can become all that God intends you to be.” (Richard G. Scott, “Finding Joy in Life”)
Wow, if you are like me, I read that quote and thought…nope. I’ve basically never done any of those things. Maybe looked at a few sunsets, but probably not in the way he is describing!
The key to what Elder Scott is saying is that finding joy takes time. In the world of today, slowing down is crucial to finding joy. When we are moving, moving, moving, and never take time to stop, ponder, and feel God in our lives it is hard to feel joy.
I am convinced that Satan is working to get us moving at such a speed in life that we lose connection with God. The way to overcome that is to slow down. Whether that is looking at sunsets and seeds like Elder Scott or simply resting and meditating, slowing down is an important activity you can take this week to find joy.
But what about pain?
Sadness, disappointment, and severe challenge are events in life, not life itself. I do not minimize how hard some of these events are. They can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining center of everything you do. The Lord inspired Lehi to declare the fundamental truth, “Men are, that they might have joy.” That is a conditional statement: “they might have joy.” It is not conditional for the Lord. His intent is that each of us finds joy. It will not be conditional for you as you obey the commandments, have faith in the Master, and do the things that are necessary to have joy here on earth.
God knows that we will experience sadness, difficulty, and pain. But somehow it is not conditional for God that we have joy. I love the line from Elder Scott that, “His intent is that each of us finds joy.” That is what your Father, the Creator of the Universe, wants for you. To find joy. The pain of our life should not be the center of everything, but rather the joy.
How do we get there?
Your joy in life depends upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His holy Son, your conviction that their plan of happiness truly can bring you joy. Pondering their doctrine will let you enjoy the beauties of this earth and enrich your relationships with others. It will lead you to the comforting, strengthening experiences that flow from prayer to Father in Heaven and the answers He gives in return.
A pebble held close to the eye appears to be a gigantic obstacle. Cast on the ground, it is seen in perspective. Likewise, problems or trials in our lives need to be viewed in the perspective of scriptural doctrine. Otherwise they can easily overtake our vision, absorb our energy, and deprive us of the joy and beauty the Lord intends us to receive here on earth. Some people are like rocks thrown into a sea of problems. They are drowned by them. Be a cork. When submerged in a problem, fight to be free to bob up to serve again with happiness.
The proper perspective is an important part of our joy. Things that are consuming our thoughts and bringing us down now will soon be gone. As I look back on my life I can’t remember many of the stresses and unhappiness of my teen years. They were so important then and are now lost to time.
For others, the impact of pain lasts much longer, but even pain that lasts decades can be overcome. We can find joy and happiness no matter our circumstances.
You can start today.
Elder Scott gave us an assignment.
Make a list of things you can do for happiness, such as:
· Ponder the scriptures to understand the plan of happiness.
· Pray with faith in Jesus Christ.
· Love and serve others.
· Receive the temple ordinances. Return to bless others.
· Listen to the prophet and obey his counsel.
· Be grateful for what you have.
· Smile more.
Your list will provide keys to contentment and joy.
You can use his list and add more ideas to your own.
This week there are three things I learned about joy.
1. Slow down to experience more joy.
2. Put things in perspective.
3. Make a list of things that bring joy and do them.
Let me know how it goes for you!