As humans and especially as Christians, it’s easy to believe that we’re supposed to be happy—at least, most of the time. And when life is hard and includes suffering, this belief that we should be happy makes us think that something has gone wrong and we use this as evidence that either God isn’t there or he doesn’t care about us.
But we’re wrong about this. Life was always meant to include equal parts happiness and sadness. It was always meant to be both easy and hard, enjoyable and excruciating. And when our circumstances are hard, it is evidence both that God is there and that he loves you dearly. Because these circumstances provide the way to experience joy, which is the purpose of the earth-life experience and greatest gift God has for his children.
This episode is a talk that I gave to the youth in my church that in my area. Though the remarks were intended for a young audience, the ideas and principles I share apply to all of us who face difficult circumstances in our lives.
Thoughts from this episode:
1. God knows you best and loves you most.
2. We are not supposed to be happy all of the time, or even most of the time. This life was purposely designed to have pain and suffering and heartache so we could come and learn the things we were supposed to.
3. When we think we’re supposed to be happy and then we notice that we aren’t we think that something has gone wrong. And if something has gone wrong then one of two things must be true: either there is no God, or he doesn’t care about us.
And I want you to know that neither of these scenarios is true. He is there. He has always been there. And he loves you more than anything else in the universe. You are infinitely precious to him.
And that not only was earth life supposed to be hard, it is hard because God is there and because God loves you. It is hard because he LOVES us.
4. God designed our life experience with pain, with sorrow, with difficulty FOR OUR SAKES. He did it because he knew it was the only way for his children to learn and grow.
5. God is in the education business. He did all that work creating a world and creating our bodies, so that we could get an education. He did all of it so we could learn and grow in ways that we couldn’t living with him.
6. Joy is the opportunity to progress. The opportunity to become. And that is what we have been given by coming to a world of opposition. We have been given a chance for joy, which means a chance to not stay the same, but to become a little more like God and reach our eternal potential.
7. God is not disappointed in us. And difficult circumstances are not evidence of his disapproval.
If you are disappointed in the way things are going and the circumstances of your life, nothing has gone wrong. This is the way of it. This is the earth life experience and this is why you came.
8. God sets the class schedule for each of us and each one of us has a different curriculum. And the more you can let go of what you thought the happy story or the happy ending should have been, and accept God’s curriculum for you, the more joy you can have in any and every circumstance. Instead of expecting it to look a certain way, expect that whatever happens is designed by a God that loves you.
9. To find joy in every circumstance—even the difficult ones, even the heartbreaking ones—we need to remember three things:
a. Assume that everything is happening because God loves you, because he knows you best and loves you most.
b. Have faith that everything is working FOR YOUR GOOD, and that doesn’t mean that it will be easy. It means that it will be better. He always does for us what is better.
c. The more we can access God’s thoughts and think the way he thinks, the more peace and joy we can find in any circumstance. God sees more for us. And the more we can think about our lives like God does, the more joy is available to us along the way.
When things don’t go the way we want or the way we think they should, Our thoughts about those circumstances are what matter. Those thoughts can change how we feel. And if we can access God’s thoughts more often, we can have more joy.
10. The best ways to access God’s thoughts are through prayer and through the scriptures.
11. Because God is in the education business, he has made joy the ending for each of us. No matter what happens here, the real ending is always happy. Because he sent his son. Because you have a Savior.
And no matter how difficult and tragic the circumstances you will face and learn from throughout your lifetime—because of Christ it will all be made right in the end.
12. Even Christ came to progress and as we progress, we are following him.
Mentioned on the podcast:
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M. Russell Ballard, The Greatest Generation of Young Adults
The Book of Mormon
Genesis 3:17 – For thy sake
Lehi’s description of life: 2 Nephi 2:11-25
Stephen E. Robinson: “All the negative aspects of human existence brought about by the Fall, Jesus Christ absorbed into himself. All that the Fall put wrong, the Savior in his atonement puts right.”