During a “spiritually powerful testimony meeting” recently, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles listened intently as a woman declared great joy because of the Father’s plan of salvation.
“Immediately obvious to me was the fact that this woman was not simply speaking familiar words,” he said. “The light that shined in her eyes, the spiritually dignified tone of her voice, her bright and peaceful countenance — everything about her affirmed the truthfulness of what she was saying.”
The woman was filled with and radiated joy, the Apostle shared with students during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on Dec. 4.
“Indeed, she was becoming more like the Savior and receiving His image in her countenance, a part of which was becoming joyful.”
The enduring joy felt by the woman is not a blessing reserved for a select few, Elder Bednar taught. Rather, every person striving to remember and honor sacred covenants and follow the commandments can receive this gift, according to God’s will and timing.
“Because of Heavenly Father’s plan and the Savior’s Atonement, challenges and afflictions invite us to lift up our eyes to Jesus Christ, the true source of joy,” he said. “The precious perspective provided by the restored gospel allows us to learn lessons that prepare us for eternity through the adversities of mortality.”
Joy can endure through times and experiences both good and bad "because of our knowledge of the Father’s plan and of the Savior’s Atonement,” he said.
In his devotional address, Elder Bednar explained the difference between temporal fun and eternal joy and how true joy can be obtained.
“Since becoming president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson frequently has extended an invitation to the people of the world that includes the promise of joy: ‘Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life,’” said Elder Bednar.
Drawing from the Guide to the Scriptures, Elder Bednar spoke of joy being a “condition of great happiness that results from righteous living.”
“Interestingly, our gospel perspective helps us to understand that joy is more than a fleeting feeling or emotion; rather, it is a spiritual gift and a state of being and becoming.”
There is a distinct contrast between righteous joy and worldly fun, Elder Bednar said.
“Joy comes from exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, worthily receiving and faithfully honoring sacred ordinances and covenants, and striving to become deeply converted to the Savior and His purposes,” he said. “Fun is the result of amusement, playful and often boisterous action or speech, or pleasurable diversion.”
While a day spent on rides at Disneyland is considered fun, joy comes through worthily preparing for and participating in the ordinance of the sacrament.
“Joy primarily is spiritual; fun primarily is temporal,” he said. “Joy primarily is enduring; fun primarily is temporary. Joy primarily is deep and rich; fun primarily is shallow. Joy primarily is whole and complete; fun primarily is partial. Joy primarily pertains to mortality and eternity; fun pertains only to mortality.
“How important it is for us to never confuse or trade the enduring, deep joy of devoted discipleship for temporary and shallow fun.”
Enduring, eternal joy comes through the Redeemer, Jesus Christ and His gospel — through having faith in the Lord, repenting, being obedient, serving and keeping a gospel perspective about the trials encountered in mortality.
“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, obedience, service and a gospel perspective about the trials we encounter in mortality all invite us to come unto the source of enduring joy — Jesus Christ,” he said.
Recognizing many additional truths could be discussed, Elder Bednar invited students to identify, study and prayerfully ponder additional principles that enable the spiritual gift of joy.
Prior to Elder Bednar’s address, BYU President Kevin J Worthen addressed students. With emotion in his voice, he encouraged students to be “more aware of and more caring for the well-being of every individual in our community” and invited students to “pay attention to the thoughts and feelings you experience and then to act on those impressions.
"You and others will be blessed if you do."
For students heading into finals and the Christmas season, the timing of the words of Elder Bednar was encouraging.
“It was a good reminder that we are the controllers of our joy,” said Kierra Maiden, a student from Logan, Utah, studying elementary education. “Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and it is a good reminder to be grateful to be here, and to find joy. We get to choose to connect with that eternal joy.”
For Caleb Naumu, a student from Huntsville, Utah, studying global supply chain management, his takeaway from the devotional was a sense of responsibility.
“We are often going through the motions without joy,” he said. “If we are feeling that way, we can focus on Jesus Christ, and through doing the little principles we will feel better, we will feel joy.”
Naumu said he recognizes that he still has responsibilities and tasks associated with being a student, but that in the busyness he can focus on the “more important things.”
Aleah Bucknum, from Wenatchee, Washington, felt impressed to be part of “changing the conversation” she has with others.
“Rather than talking about stress and the things I have to do, I can talk about being grateful and about joyful things.”