The Joy of the Saints

The Book of Enos opens like this: “ Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.” Although Enos never really tells us what this “joy of the saints” might be, it seems to me that the entire story functions as an illustration of John 16:22, a verse in one of the stories in which Jesus explains his upcoming departure to his disciples:

And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

The essential element is, I think, not the source of joy but the nature of this joy: it cannot be taken from the disciples. So although they are about to see Jesus crucified, experience his second departure, and suffer themselves, their joy remains.  Why? Christ’s promises and the joy they engender cannot be taken from the disciples because they are anchored in his own eternal life – which no one can take.

How does this play out in the BoM? While Enos tells us that he was satisfied by the promises he obtained from God regarding his people, he does not otherwise describe a happy life. He makes no mention of a family, and his son Jarom does not distinguish himself. The interaction between the Nephites and the Lamanites seems to have been fruitless, and his experience of teaching his own people brings down this bitter description (Enos 23):

And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things — stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them.

But no one could take his joy from him, and so it is that at the end of his story he can write about joy, like this (Enos 26-27):

And I saw that I must soon go down to my grave, having been wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ. And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world.

And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.

And that is how the joy of the saints plays out in life: preaching the promises in confident expectation of a warm welcome by the One who makes those promises sure through his own eternal existence.



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