Are the Righteous Sad?
© 31 May 2011 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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A scriptural thought about happiness and sadness.


My morning scripture study for the past few months has been marking every phrase denoting emotion or motivation. As I near the end of the Book of Mormon I’ve learned a bit about happiness and joy, sadness and misery.

“‍They knew not what to think‍”

One typical passages relating the emotions of righteous people is recorded in Mosiah 25:8–11:

For they knew not what to think; […] they were filled with exceedingly great joy […] they were filled with sorrow, and even shed many tears of sorrow […] they did raise their voices and give thanks to God […] they were filled with pain and anguish.
Time and again this pattern shows up: the righteous people are both joyful and sorrowful at once.

Conversely, the wickeds’ emotions are painted much more simply. They spend a lot of time angry, some time cursing god and wishing to die, and some time rejoicing in victory. Partly I suppose this portrayal is due to the fact they weren’t the ones keeping the record, but it’s a pretty clear difference nonetheless.

In the surprisingly famous Along with “‍let sleeping dogs lie‍”, this won out as the passages that are better known than the name of the author who wrote them. Not “‍Why wasn’t I born old and ugly?‍”, nor “‍My guiding star always is, Get hold of portable property‍”, nor even “‍cows are my passion.‍” Such is the perversity of life. words of Charles Dickens, “‍It was the best of times, it was the worst of times‍”. At least, it was for the righteous. For the wicked, “‍It was 1775; people were confused‍” might have been a better opening.

“‍That they might have it more abundantly‍”

John records Jesus saying his objective is that we “‍might have life, and that [we] might have it more abundantly.‍” The more I looked for emotions, the more that apparently unrelated passage came to mind.

God wants us to be like Him, and he is Alive! All the way, infinitely alive, able to feel more than the joy of the happiest and more than the pain of the saddest all in once, all the time. And as we approach Him, so to do our emotions approach His emotions. We feel more, with less distinction. Our depth of feeling increases even as the extremes of reacting diminish.

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