In Alma chapter 41, Alma is speaking to his son about life after death. He teaches:
“And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.” – Alma 41:3-5
When we die, we will be restored in proper order.
If we do good work, then we will be restored to good; evil to evil.
What I find interesting here is when Alma says that we will be raised to happiness according to our desires of happiness.
Who doesn’t want to be happy??? I figure we all want to be happy, yet for some reason we have this idea that happiness can be achieved in any way our natures desire.
Instead, if we want to be happy, then we need to understand the universal laws that govern it. (***Universal laws = God’s laws. I just want to emphasize here that these God’s laws aren’t arbitrary rules of a power-hungry God. They are universal laws: intact whether or not we believe in them.)
The universal laws that govern happiness are righteousness and repentance. There are others, too (consecration, sacrifice, obedience, etc.) We can’t make up our own rules about happiness. We need to follow God’s laws. If we desire to be happy, then we will begin to shift our desires from worldly and natural pleasures to God’s laws and righteousness.
This isn’t to say that God is boring or pious. He wants us to experience beauty and happiness in this life. In fact, we learn later on in Alma about God’s nature – that it is the nature of happiness. (See Alma 41:11.)
Because God’s nature is the nature of happiness, we can expect that things that will bring us closer to Him will make us happier. Whereas things that distance us from Him will cause us pain. As Alma teaches his son, “Wickedness never was happiness. (Alma 41:10).
A lot of this stuff might seem repetitive, but it is so important to understand. God’s plan is the plan of happiness. We are here to have joy. We need to understand the distinction between lasting joy (the happiness God offers) and fleeting pleasure (Satan’s counterfeit).
A few days ago, I took a long walk. 14 miles in length. This walk also includes a bit of a mountain climb. I would guess about 4000 ft in elevation gain. It isn’t easy. The first 8 miles are an ascent up a giant mountain. The road is steep. It switches back and forth.
I could look at this walk like a chore; like something to be avoided. I could resent the sweat and pain in my lungs and then instead do something that is much more immediately pleasurable.
I could look at this walk like something I want to do, but struggle along the way. I could huff and pant, and keep up a very fast pace up the hill -without ever stopping to take a breath. I could choose to see this walk only in terms of the “goal” – arriving at my destination. I would experience joy when I arrive, but I think that I would also miss out on the joy along the way. In fact, if I have this mindset, there is a chance I might never finish – getting too exhausted and tired along the way.
Finally, I could look at this walk as something I want to do, and I could be patient. I could be committed to climbing the mountain and completing my walk, but resting assured that as long as I’m walking that I’ll make it. There will be points when I must push through fatigue and shortness of breath. Maybe I’ll take a break. If I do, instead of chiding myself for physical weakness, I’ll look out to the neighboring canyons and pine-covered mountains. or maybe I’ll notice a small red wildflower growing on the forest floor amongst aspen and hellebore and other alpine plants. Though moving slowly, I’ll be filled with joy even as I walk up the mountain – noticing the blessings along the way and imagining the blessing it will be to make it to the pass at the top of the mountain.
And then, when I make it to the top, I’ll see more than one valley beneath me. A 360 degree view. Though the walk up was hard, I’ll feel rejuvenated and invigorated by my accomplishment.
Life is a lot like a long walk up a mountain. It is hard. It requires effort. We might be tempted to think that we could experience the joy of the view at the top anywhere on the mountain. It is easy to misunderstand this experience and think that we need to climb up it as quickly as possible, passing all of the beauty and joy that God blesses us with along the way.
But there is only one way to the top of the mountain: up.
There is only one way to feel God’s joy and happiness. It is when we come unto Him. We do this through Christ and keeping the commandments. If we follow these universal laws, then we will experience in this life and in the life to come.