In 2 Nephi 2:25 the prophet Lehi teaches, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have JOY." This short verse flies in the face of one of the most elemental teachings of mainstream Christianity, namely, that Adam's fall took away our joy and condemned us all to live in a fallen world which is less joyful and harder work than we might have experienced in the Garden of Eden. After the fall, Eve is told, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children" (Genesis 3:16). Similarly, Adam is told "cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life" (Genesis 3:19). How is it, then, that the fall of Adam and Eve is for the purpose of giving us joy? It almost inspires the familiar expression, "with friends like that, who needs enemies?"
However, father Lehi also teaches that we must experience the pain and difficulty of mortal life to achieve the joy of the life our Heavenly Father has and offers to us: "it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility" (2 Nephi 2:11).
In plain English, we must know the bitter to know the sweet. We must know pain to feel pleasure. We must know sorrow to really experience joy.
In the past year, our family has known an uncommon level of sorrow with the tragic death of a beloved son at age 24, a loving mother, and a stalwart and supportive grandmother. At the same time as we mourned each of their deaths, we celebrated their unique lives and the love we shared with them. The sorrow we felt at their deaths sharpens and magnifies the joy we feel at having loved them.
Many of you have known the pain of divorce or the death of a spouse. In either case, you know the acute pain of loss. How much more joyful will you feel when you are happily remarried? How much more joyful will we all be when we are reunited with loved ones on the other side of the veil, never more to part?
Do we have any choice of whether we experience joy or sorrow in our fallen world? Our answer to this question is a resounding yes! The original Greek word that is translated as "gospel" in the New Testament literally means "good news." What is the good news? The good news is that there is a plan of redemption through Jesus Christ, and the fall does not permanently enslave or destroy us. The pain caused by sin, death, and our fallen natures will ultimately be swallowed up in the pure love of Christ. And we have choices about whether sorrow or joy will predominate in our thoughts and feelings.
Father Lehi also taught: "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Nephi 2:27).
Please don't misunderstand. We do not believe that all pain comes from sin. We also believe that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Our choice is in whether to maintain our hope in Christ or succumb to discouragement and despair. Choosing to adopt the thought that an early death was part of our son's path through the eternities does not take away the pain of missing him and longing to see him in this life. The hope of a joyful reunion on the other side of the veil does not take away the pain of missing him now. However, these beliefs foster the hope that this sorrow has purpose and that we were meant to live joyfully partly through knowing the pain of loss. God lost one third of His children permanently (D&C 29:36). He lives in a fullness of joy not withstanding the sorrow he has experienced through painful losses.
One of the most important things we can do is to be relentless in choosing joy amid pain. Joy is discovered as we choose to be stubbornly grateful for all of God's gifts, regardless of the trials he has allowed us to pass through.
We have a wonderful friend who spent 15 years in the mid-singles community and never lost hope of finding joy in eternal marriage. Last year she was married and sealed in the temple to the man of her dreams -- a man who has also worked very hard at being relentlessly positive. Within weeks of their marriage, this sweet woman was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer and given a terminal diagnosis. While this obviously hurts and worries both of them, they have chosen JOY. They choose the hope that she may still live many more years on this Earth. They also choose to believe that this trial is part of their path to eternal joy. Given the facts of their lives, both of them could be in the depths of despair. But that is not the path they have chosen. They have chosen the path of joy -- and they are stubborn and sticking to it. This is what the Lord meant when he admonished us to "endure to the end" (2 Nephi 31:20).
We are pleased to share our interview with this sweet couple. We heartily suggest that if you are relentlessly joyful, relying on the Savior, you will be able to live a joyful life, notwithstanding the losses and crosses of mortality.
If you have experienced the loss of divorce, we invite you to register for our FREE WEBINAR: Life Design After Divorce coming up THIS Thursday, February 23 at 6:30 MT by Zoom. Come be supported in your efforts to be stubborn with your JOY. Click REGISTER to gain access. We hope to see you there!
Our featured interview this week is Stubbornly Joyful with Eric & Syra Pabst (with listen and watch options) and our featured video is Marriage - Pros & Cons. Our Shorts are The Happiest Way to Live and Life Design After Divorce (a 40-second video about our FREE WEBINAR this Thursday. Convenient links to all provided below.
FEATURED THIS WEEK
LILY Pod Episode 108: Stubbornly Joyful with Syra & Eric Pabst (90min) LISTEN OPTION
LILY Pod Interview: Stubbornly Joyful with Syra & Eric Pabst (90min) WATCH OPTION
LILY Tube Video: Marriage - Pros & Cons (11min)
LILY Tube Short: The Happiest Way to Live (1min)
LILY Tube Short: Life Design After Divorce FREE WEBINAR (1min)
Discover what LILY Coaching can do for you. Simply email email@example.com to set up a FREE consultation with Jeff or Cathy. We have private and group coaching options available. We look forward to working with you personally!
Get a copy of "Intentional Courtship" on Amazon to heal from relationship loss and create more real love in your life HERE: Intentional Courtship
If you enjoy this letter, forward to a friend. Our goal is to support as many mid-singles and later-married couples as possible!