I sit here today, in isolation, during this crazy time, worrying about the sisters in my ward and their families. Concerned that they have enough food and supplies in their homes and that they are safe and not sick. I wish that I could talk to each of them every day.
If we were able to have church this week, the General Conference talk we would be discussing would be the one called The Joy of the Saints by Elder D. Todd Christopherson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We chose this talk months ago and here we all are in a situation where it can really come in handy. I would encourage all of you to go read it or to listen to it at churchofjesuschrist.org or on Youtube.
But there were a few things that stuck out to me that I want to focus on at this moment. At the beginning of his address he says:
In this conference three years ago, President Russell M. Nelson spoke of joy.2 Among other things, he said:
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
“When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. … For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!”3
Saints are those who have entered into the gospel covenant through baptism and are striving to follow Christ as His disciples.4 Thus, “the joy of the saints” denotes the joy of becoming Christlike.
We can feel joy right this moment. We can look around and focus on what we have in our lives rather than what we lack. Of course this is hard and some of us have lost our source of income and we wonder how things will be in just a few weeks but I know that if we trust in God, focus on Him, continue to study His words and have daily conversations with Him He will lead us to better things through the hard stuff.
I remember almost 30 years ago, as a newly single mother with a job that was barely paying the bills, feeling joy in my life every day. That joy came because though things were extremely hard my focus was on getting to the temple. There was nothing I wanted more at the time and I did everything in my power over a 12 month period to get myself ready and worthy. When I look back on that time I know it was hard but the memories that stand out most tome are the feelings of love I had for my family and the people around me.
Elder Christopherson says
In speaking of the Savior’s Atonement, President Russell M. Nelson said:
“As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, ‘who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross’ [Hebrews 12:2]. Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!
“And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.”24
Similarly, the joy “set before us” is the joy of assisting the Savior in His work of redemption. As the seed and children of Abraham,25 we participate in blessing all the families of the earth “with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.”26
Can you tell where I’m going next? Yes, you’re right: Ministering. Jesus Christ was able to get through the worst suffering that any of us can imagine and He was able to do it because He was focused on the joy and well being of His brothers and sisters.
Ministering has become even more important now in this unusual situation. Many of our sisters may feel isolated and lonely. They might be afraid to go to the grocery store because of age or illness. They may be feeling unsure or overwhelmed or even depressed. Please reach out. I know that sometimes if we are feeling that way ourselves we might feel like we have nothing to offer someone else but you would be surprised what a kind voice on the other end of the phone can do for our mood. Think back to when you’ve had such a call.
Right now a text message might not be the best option. You may need to actually pick up the phone to convey the love you are feeling for that sister.
I would also suggest that taking some time on the phone will be important especially if you are calling a sister who you haven’t yet built a relationship with. She may be hesitant to ask for help and so taking some time to really listen to what is being said and what she may not be saying will be important.
And finally, please pray for your sisters. Heavenly Father knows what they need and He will help you to know too. If you get a prompting (a thought comes to you) to do a kind thing, don’t hesitate. All that is good comes from God. I think too often we worry if the thought came from you or from God. If it is good then assume it is God and move forward. You will almost always be right. One of my favorite quotes is from Sister Camilla Kimball, “Never suppress a generous thought.”
I hope that you will keep studying, keep reaching out and, as the Sabbath comes, do what you can to keep the sabbath day holy in your homes.
3 thoughts on “The Joy of the Saints”
Dear Miss Beth, thank you for your message today. We studied that talk in our ward several months ago, but something stood out to me this time that did not before: the Savior’s focus on joy to endure all that he did and make the Atonement happen. I have been extremely blessed during this time and constantly have a glow of peace and comfort in my heart. I am using that place to reach out and help uplift those around me. Last night while studying Come Follow Me, in the manual narrative it states, “…the vineyard belongs to the Lord. He has given each of us a small area to assist in His work – our family, our circle of friends, our sphere of influence.” I can get overwhelmed with the thought of needing to help everyone, and I don’t feel up to it, but to look around at my family, at my ministering sisters, at my neighbors – I can do that. Thank you for your messages and your faith. Be well!
Im posting this! I love EVERYTHING you share. Thank you so much! I wish you did a podcast… maybe thats next! 😉 Take care and keep writing! The world needs your positive and gentle outlook
You’re so nice