Rephrased, the declaration “men are, that they might have joy1, could read “the whole reason for your existence is so that you can receive joy”.
Is it really? I felt joy when my football team scored a winning goal! I know I felt joy when I received the news about a successful job application, or when we had a family holiday. Are those feelings the reason for our existence?
Not exactly. Those feelings of joy are real and important, but they are only reflections of a deeper and abiding joy that is given to us from our Father in Heaven. Not everyone’s team scores a winning goal. Not every applicant can get the job. For others, a family holiday is just not possible. However, everyone can receive true joy!
President Russell M. Nelson taught: “the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”2
BYU professors Kelly Ogden and Andrew Skinner wrote: “Second Nephi 2:25 should never be quoted without also quoting verse 26. They are inextricably bound together as two pillars in the great plan of salvation. Yes, Adam fell that men might be, but ‘the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children from the fall.’3 In other words, we are having this earthly experience because of Adam and Eve’s fall; it was purposely designed that way that we might receive joy; and that joy comes because of a loving Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
The Father constantly points us to His Son—and the joy that comes from making Jesus Christ the focus of our lives is real, deep and abiding joy. It is a fullness of joy.
The following examples are of people who felt a fullness of joy, even amidst difficulty, as they made the Saviour their focus.
Lehi and Sariah beheld that their “joy was full”4 not just because of their sons’ safe return, but because of the certainty of the Lord’s direction through His prophet.
Ammon said “my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy”5, because of the many souls that he had seen come unto Jesus Christ and become the Lord’s people. Alma had this same fulness of joy for the same reasons6.
Nephi and Lehi, despite being imprisoned, “were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory”7, as they heard the voice of the Father commending them for their faith in His Beloved son.
Finally, Jacob speaks of all the faithful followers of Jesus Christ, His covenant people, and the joy that will await them as they live the gospel, despite hardships, setbacks, opposition and trials. He taught: “But, behold the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the Kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the earth, and their joy shall be full forever”8
I testify that the very purpose of our life can be realised and that all of us can receive a fullness of joy as we “choose Heavenly Father to be our God”9, focus our lives on Jesus Christ, invite others to learn of Him, hear His voice ourselves, repent of our sins, and keep moving forward along the covenant path.