Peace, Joy, and Happiness

Summary: Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Although this promise sounds wonderful, it’s not uncommon for people to wonder how do we get this peace during times when we experience pain, sorrow, heartbreak, worry, disappoint, doubt, and fear? In a world filled with negativity and wickedness, how can we possibly find peace, joy, and contentment in the midst of turmoil? This article seeks to answer these questions.

Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

The occasion for this statement was a farewell sermon Jesus gave to eleven of his specially chosen disciples whom he referred to as apostles. After Judas Iscariot had left the room to go report to the high priest, Jesus took some bread, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said [to the remaining apostles,], Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24,25).

Jesus said this because he knew that the time had come for him to endure the agony needed to fully atone for the sins of the world. This would be his last meal while living in mortality because in just a few short moments, he would go to the garden of Gethsemane and begin the process of offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. He had no doubt witnessed people hanging from nails on a Roman crossbeam and so he fully understood what awaited him. And although he intellectually understood the suffering he would endure in Gethsemane’s garden, when he finally experienced it, he was “sore amazed” (Mark 14:33).

As Jesus ate his food that evening, his heart was heavy and “he was troubled in spirit (John 13:21). Because of these feelings this was a very somber and sobering time for him, However, the rest of the men who were with him had no idea what was about to happen. This was the Passover meal they were eating, to celebrate Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, so they were no doubt in a festive mood. As such, Jesus must have felt very alone in a room full of happy people.

Yet in just a few hours the cheery mood of the apostles would quickly turn to fear, and in less than twenty-four hours they would be in shock as their Master’s lifeless body was lowered from the cross and placed in a tomb. Peter, above all others, knew that Jesus was the Messiah whose coming the prophets had foretold, and he and the other apostles were overjoyed to be part of his closest associates. They had a front-row seat to all of his mighty miracles and they could ask hm personal questions whenever they wanted.

It was because of this knowledge that Jesus knew that they were completely unprepared for what was about to happen. And when it did happen, it would shake their faith so deeply that it would cause them to doubt everything they though they knew about him. He could have explained to them why his death was necessary but they weren’t yet capable of grasping his words. Jesus hinted at this, saying that he was going away, and. “Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards” (John 14:36).

After they had all eaten and were relaxing, Jesus tried to prepare them to withstand the fear and doubt they were about to experience, and so he gave them one last sermon that was meant to comfort and spiritually strengthen them to endure the dark days that would last until he had risen from the grave and appeared to a gloried, immortal being.

This was the context for why Jesus said to them “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”

Yet, what Jesus told them also applies to us as well because everyone has times in their life when we don’t understand why supposedly bad things happen to us or to others. The Book of Mormon describes God’s plan for our salvation as “the plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), yet there are times when we experience pain, sorrow, heartbreak, worry, disappoint, doubt, and fear. At times like these, it’s only natural to wonder why these things happen to us, to those we love, and even to others we don’t know.

Perhaps the greatest source of heartache comes because of death. If it’s someone we dearly love, the grief we feel can almost be overwhelming, but we can also become deeply saddened when we see the of loss of life of others that have been caused by war, senseless violence, natural disasters, or because of sickness or accidents. It’s at times like this that the words of Jesus to his closest disciples provides us with a sense of comfort during our dark days. He promises that he can provide us with the kind of peace that the world is incapable of giving.

However, although this promise sounds wonderful, it’s not uncommon for people to wonder how do we get this peace?

There are many people who believe in Christ and who faithfully serve him, yet when challenges come into their life, they don’t feel a sense of peace while going through times of deep sorry and uncertainty. Many Christians believe that we are living in the last days, and the scriptures tell us that during this time there will be wars and rumors of war, that the world will be in commotion and that even nature itself will react with violent upheavals, unleashing catastrophic calamities upon the earth.

We also believe that as righteousness increases in the world in preparation for Christ’s anticipated coming, evil will likewise increase in the same proportion. We’re told in the scriptures that Satan will rage in the hearts of men, that the Saints will face great persecution, and that men’s hearts will fail them. It’s also been foretold that things will become so bad that it’s possible for even the most righteous to be deceived.

In the twentieth century the entire world was plunged into two world wars and there have been many smaller wars and armed conflicts ever since. As members of Christ’s restored church, we’ve been told that we were held in reserve to come forth at this particular time when the conflict with evil would be the greatest.

With all of this negativity and evil going on all around us, how can we possibly find peace, joy, and contentment? How do we find happiness in the midst of turmoil? How do we receive “the peace of God which passesth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) when peace has been taken from the earth?

The simple answer is to have faith in Christ, but what does that really mean?

To have faith in someone means trusting them. This is the kind of faith young children have in their parents because no matter what their parents say, young children totally believe them. This kind of faith doesn’t question or doubt, and it’s this same attitude of trust that identifies a true believer in Christ. Believing in Christ doesn’t just mean saying we accept as fact that Jesus died for our sins and that he will save us into the kingdom of heaven. Believing in Christ means that when he tells us something, we accept whatever he says as being totally and completely true, even – or especially – when we don’t understand how it can be.

Jesus told his disciples “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” That promise also applies to us, but do we believe that? When our heart is full of sorrow and our mind is troubled, do we truly believe that Jesus can fill our soul with peace? If we doubt what he said, then as soon as we don’t find the peace we’re expecting, we’re likely to say, “I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t see how he could possibly give me peace at a time like this.”

This can easily happen if we don’t know Christ. During the short time that Jesus spent seeking to strengthen, comfort, and prepare his disciples before making his way to the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed unto the Father in their behalf saying, “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

Trust is not something we take blindly. It has to be earned and the way that happens is by being with someone long enough to know if they’re always true to their word. And the same principle applies to Jesus. In order to know if he is someone we can trust, because he always keeps his word, we have to come to know him, not just intellectually, but personally. In the Protestant faith they talk about Jesus being their “personal savior” and in order to know whether or not we can trust Jesus, we have to develop a close personal and intimate relationship with him because that’s how we come to truly know him. But how do we do that?

During the three years that Jesus spent preaching the gospel, the twelve men whom he called as apostles, traveled with Jesus everywhere he went. They ate with him, worked beside him, watched him, asked questions of him and were personally taught and schooled by him. They not only knew him personally but intimately, meaning that there were things about him that no other living person knew. With that kind of knowledge, there was nothing about Christ’s character that was hidden from them. And because of this, they came to know with certainty that they could trust him totally and completely.

Yet, at the same time, Jesus had also developed a close, personal relationship with each one of them. For this reason, as Jesus talked with them after having eaten his last supper in mortality, he told them, “Ye are my friends… Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:14,15).

Friends associate with one another because they like each other. In most cases they have the same interests, likes, dislikes, and often have very similar personalities. Friends enjoy doing things together, going to places together, and just “hanging out” and talking with one another. Real friends watch out for each other and are more than willing to be of help when one of them is in need.

Jesus wants us to trust him, but the only way we can really come to do that is by knowing him, personally and intimately. However, the only way we can do that is to become a friend to Jesus. He told his disciples, “Abide in me, and I [will abide] in you” (John 15:4). Jesus wants to be our friend, but friendship is a two-way street. If we want Jesus to be our friend, then we have to be a friend to him, and the way we do that is by liking him enough to enjoy doing things that he enjoys doing, going to places that he likes going to, and sometimes just taking the time to have a warm, personal conversation with him. This is what it means to abide in him, and if we will do that then he will abide in us.

But that can only happen if we like being with him and that happens when what he’s interested in is what we’re interested in, and when what he likes and dislikes are the same things we like and dislike. Being a friend to Jesus also means watching out for his interests, defending him from ridicule and scorn, standing up for the values he teaches, and being willing to do what he asks of us. As Jesus told his disciples, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 15:14).

Paul explained, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). While we live in this mortal tabernacle of clay, we have a very limited understanding of God and his ways, which can cause us to ask, “Why am I suffering? Why is this happening to me or to others? Where is God? If he is truly a loving Being, why doesn’t he stop all suffering? Does he even care?”

These kinds of questions come as a result of not knowing God. When we come to truly know God the eternal Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, we come to understand the answers to these questions and, more importantly, we come to learn how he cares for us. Without knowing this, we often don’t recognize the blessings God does give us, especially when they don’t come in the way we’re expecting. Unless we come to know Jesus personally and intimately, we can’t truly know his ways, and when that happens, we tend to judge him according to our standards rather understanding the principles that govern his behavior.

Jesus told his apostles, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7). When sore trials come upon us, it is the Holy Ghost who comforts us, but it is Christ who “will send him unto you.” This is God’s gift to his friends.

Jesus wants us to trust him but real trust can only come when we understanding how the Lord fulfills his promises, and to help us understand God’s ways he sends us the Holy Ghost who not only comforts us, and fills our aching heart with the peace Christ promises, but he also enlightens our mind, thereby giving us the understanding we need to trust God. And with understanding comes wisdom. As the Palmist has said,. “For the LORD giveth wisdom [because] out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). Happiness, joy, and peace comes from having wisdom, and wisdom comes from gaining understanding, and understanding comes from God. The Psalmist explained, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (Proverbs 3:13).

There will be times when the load seems heavy we are called to bear, which can be discouraging, but Jesus says to his friends, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”. (Matthew 22:29,30, emphasis added). A heavy load is easier to bear when someone is helping us carry it, and that’s what friends do for one another. Life in mortality is not meant to be easy because we grow stronger as we struggle through trials, challenges, and troubles. As Jesus told Joseph Smith, “know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).

Yet, even though it’s necessary for us to endure pain and sorrow, as our friend, Jesus wants to be there to help us. Although he can’t take away all pain and suffering, because that would rob us of the opportunity to grow, yet he has compassion on us and will do what he can to ease the burdens that come upon us.

There is a Protestant hymn entitled “What a friend we have in Jesus” and in it we read these words:

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
what a privilege it is to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

It is in this way that Christ brings us peace in times of turmoil, joy in times of sorrow, and happiness in times of suffering. This was the message he gave to his apostles to prepare them for the trials that were about to come upon them, and it is the same message he gives us today. In a world full of problems, this is how we find peace, joy, and happiness.



Related articles can be found at The Nature of God