Oh Be Joyful!

I spoke on the phone the other day with one of my best friends. Ben and I have known each other for almost 20 years now. We went to Jr. High and High school together. We were roommates at BYU our freshman year. We were in the MTC (Missionary Training Center) together and returned home from our missions at almost the same time. Ben and I think much alike. We’ve always just clicked with one another. Even though our paths wind through separate valleys I feel that our friendship enjoys a quality that neither time nor distance can dim. Ours is a friendship that I believe started in the premortal realms and will continue throughout eternity.

Ben entered the MTC before I did but not by too much time. I remember seeing him for the first time in the MTC. I felt so joyous that I felt nearly faint. The emotion was partially our friendship and partially the spirit and atmosphere of the MTC. Those who lived there know what I mean. I had just spent the previous school year living with him and had seen him not too long previously but the atmosphere and spirit of the MTC, for me, made our reunion very sweet. That experience always reminds me of a similar one we read in the Book of Mormon.

“And it came to pass that as Ammon was going forth into the land, that he and his brethren met Alma, over in the place of which has been spoken; and behold, this was a joyful meeting. Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth. Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness. Now the joy of Alma in meeting his brethren was truly great, and also the joy of Aaron, of Omner, and Himni; but behold their joy was not that to exceed their strength.” (Alma 27:16-19).

The brothers four, sons of King Mosiah, returned home from 14 year missions only to run into their good friend Alma. Ammon was so overjoyed that he fainted. Maybe he just fainted easily but Ammon was very happy to see his friend Alma. He was full of the joy that only the “truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness” enjoys. This is not a momentary happiness, a spark of pleasure, it is an eternal joy that can only fill the humble followers of Christ. I like the particular phrase used in the scriptures – the “humble seeker of happiness.” This is the happiness of which the wicked know nothing. It is a joy that I think few of use experience very often in mortal life. Temple marriage, births of children, service, and reunions with loved ones can elicit such joy but that joy is relatively rare.

I look forward to the eternal day when such bliss and joy will ever surround us. I am grateful that we are allowed to taste such felicity in this life even if it is brief. I pray that we might be filled with the radiant joy Ammon felt as a missionary and in his reunion with his dear friend. Ammon was one filled with joy. At one point his brother expressed some concern over Ammon’s expressions of joy: “His brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting. But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God…. Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.” (Alma 26:10-11,16).

It is in and through Christ that we can be filled with such sparkling joy.

“O Be Joyful In The Lord All Ye Lands
Serve the Lord with Gladness
And come before His presence with a song
Be Ye sure that the Lord He is God
It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture
O go your way into His gates with Thanksgiving
And into his courts with praise!
Be thankful unto Him
And speak good of His name
For the Lord is gracious
His mercy is everlasting
And His truth endureth
From generation to generation…
O be joyful in the Lord all Ye lands
Glory be to the Father
Glory be to the Son
And to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning
Is now and ever shall be
World Without End!” (Text based in part on Psalm 100; text from here).

I am grateful for good friends, like Ben, who help bring joy into my life. I am grateful for a wonderful family who are for me pure happiness. I am mostly grateful to my God and to my Savior Jesus Christ for the Heavenly joy they provide in this life and who promise us a fullness of joy in the next life.

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