The Paradox of Affliction and Joy

Like so much of life, the gospel is full of “paradoxes” – not inconsistencies, but oppositional forces – yin and yang situations.

One of these yin and yang moments of the gospel has to do with joy.

We, the faithful, can have joy, but this life isn’t always a joyful experience. It is kind of hard sometimes. We must have patience in our afflictions, in fact, if we want to have any peace and joy. Alma teaches this to his son:

“But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions.” – Alma 34:41

There will be a point when we can rest from our afflictions, but while we are still experiencing mortal life, then the joyful life is rife with affliction and adversity.

Often, the Lord comforts along the way, but joy is not about a life free of opposition or difficulty. In fact, it is through overcoming adversity that we often feel joy.

I like to think of it this way – think of hiking up a mountain or running a race. It’s hard work. You can’t do it without putting for real effort. You might sweat. You might get short of breath. You might feel uncomfortable and ready to stop.

But you put your mind over matter, push through it, and endure. Then, when you make it to the top of the mountain, or to the finish line of your race, you feel extreme joy and satisfaction. You have overcome the opposition, and you have succeeded. You are joyful because of the opposition not because of a lack of opposition.

We can apply this knowledge to our lives. Instead of balking at affliction or complaining during trials, we can remain grateful and we can seek comfort. We can take time to notice the little blessings on the way and remain full of hope for the joy we will experience when we can rest from these afflictions.


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