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President Russell M. Nelson

The joy Latter-day Saints feel has little to do with “the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives,” said President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“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,” he said. “Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. … For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!”

Speaking during the Sunday morning session on the topic, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” President Nelson said, “as conflicts between nations escalate, as cowardly terrorists prey on the innocent, and as corruption in everything from business to government becomes increasingly commonplace,” Church members can focus on joy.

“Life is filled with detours and dead ends, trials and challenges of every kind,” he said. “Each of us has likely had times when distress, anguish, and despair almost consumed us. Yet we are here to have joy? Yes! The answer is a resounding yes.”

President Nelson said Church members can feel joy, even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year.

“That is why our missionaries leave their homes to preach His gospel. Their goal is not to increase the number of Church members,” said President Nelson. “Rather, our missionaries teach and baptize to bring joy to the people of the world.”

Just as the Savior offers peace, He also offers “an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension,” said President Nelson.

Members can claim that joy by looking to the Savior, he said. “We can give thanks for Him in our prayers, and by keeping covenants we’ve made with Him and our Heavenly Father. As our Savior becomes more and more real to us, and as we plead for His joy to be given to us, our joy will increase.”

Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power, said President Nelson. “As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar. ... 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."

Focusing on joy can help Latter-day Saints endure those things that seem overwhelming, painful, scary, unfair or simply impossible, President Nelson said.

And as Latter-day Saints diligently focus on the Savior, and then follow His pattern of focusing on joy, they need to avoid those things that can interrupt their joy.

“Anything that opposes Christ or His doctrine will interrupt our joy. …,” said President Nelson. “If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness, we will never know joy. The unrighteous may experience any number of emotions and sensations, but they will never experience joy. Joy is a gift for the faithful. It is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ.”

The Savior taught us how to have joy, President Nelson said. “When we choose Heavenly Father to be our God, and when we can feel the Savior’s Atonement working in our lives, we will be filled with joy. Every time we nurture our spouse and guide our children, every time we forgive someone or ask for their forgiveness, we can feel joy.

“Every day that you and I choose to live celestial laws, every day that we keep our covenants and help others to do the same, joy will be ours.”

sarah@deseretnews.com @SJW_ChurchNews

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