Welcome to day one of the Joy and Thanksgiving scripture study series! Today, we found a few connections…So, here we go…
“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” – 2 Nephi 2:13
In this verse, Lehi makes a few connections the series he gives is as follows law→sin→righteousness→happiness→punishment and misery→God→Us and the earth Each of these items seem to be connected either because they are opposites or because they are connected through cause and effect.
Cause and Effect – for example, if we are righteous, then we will be happy – is pretty obvious. What is a little bit harder to understand is how opposition can possibly be a part of the plan of Happiness.
As I think about this series of connections, the point where we get to God seems to make the need for opposition to make more sense. Opposition is a simple fact – it is the way that it is. If we want to be like God, then we must experience opposition. Opposition is a fact even in God’s existence, and because Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of Knowledge of good and evil, opposition is a simple fact of our existence.
Now, we know that Adam and Eve didn’t experience this kind of opposition before the Fall, but that doesn’t mean that opposition didn’t exist. They were not aware of opposition until partaking of the fruit and gaining knowledge.
“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.” – 2 Nephi 2:23
Again, the connection in this verse is that the concepts are opposites. And all of these concepts and connections help to increase our knowledge. As we experience misery, we can also have a better appreciation for joy. We know what sin is, and we also know what Good works are: we are able to differentiate the two. However, this does not mean that experiencing sin is the requirement to being able to do good. It is simply about our knowledge. We can’t possibly know good works if we don’t know sin. Based on this knowledge, we make a choice. We make the choice to have joy and happiness. Conversely, we can make the choice to be miserable.
Sometimes, miserable trials happen to us. This may be a consequence of our own actions. Or it could be a consequence of another’s mistake. We may even experience pain and misery just because we are mortal. Whatever the case, we experience trials that may have a miserable effect on us. Just because we are experiencing pain doesn’t mean that we will automatically experience joy. But, because we are experiencing pain does mean that joy is possible. The key to turning the misery of these trials into joy is through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I think of Alma – the experience of his conversion. For three days, he was basically in a coma, and was racked with guilt and pain – the pain of a “damned soul.” He is able to escape it, though. He explains:
“And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.” Alma 36:17-19
Through the atonement of Christ, Alma no longer felt his pains. What is more amazing is what he did feel in place of all of that misery:
“And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” – Alma 36:20-21
Joy and pain are connected.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” – 2 Nephi 2:25
Because Adam fell, we all experience pain. We all are born into this mortal world, we will sin, we will be hurt by the sins of others, and we will experience difficulties like sickness and death. Sometimes it feels pretty bleak. But, this scripture helps us to remember, that because Adam fell, we also have the potential to have joy!
Think of a coin:
On the one side, we have heads (Joy), and on the other we have tails (Misery). They are inseparably connected. You can’t pick up only the joy side of the coin. You will also pick up misery. Adam had to fall and experience misery and the pain of the consequence of mortality if he wanted to experience joy.
And where on earth does the joy come from? We find out in the next verse:
“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” – 2 Nephi 2:26
Joy comes from our Savior. He has overcome the pains and consequences of Adam’s fall. He will provide us joy even when we experience misery. He is righteousness, happiness, and every good thing.
Remembering this can help us – as we struggle. Sometimes we have a hard day. Sometimes we have a few hard days. Even though they aren’t fun, we can remember to look to the Savior – who will bring some meaning and happiness to our suffering.
>What do you think? What did you notice as you studied? Please share!
For tomorrow’s reading assignment, click here.