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.



About mogget
  • David McKnight

    I’ve been reading your blog and wanted to see if I could offer you a free copy of my soon to be released novel Tongue of Fire in exchange for a fair and honest review on your blog. The plot synopsis is as follows:
    The charismatic new preacher at the local mega-church is drawing followers by the hundreds. There’s only one problem. He’s a Mormon, and nobody knows it.
    John Peterson tries to follow the Spirit, but it tells him to preach, and preaching only seems to get him into trouble. His strident defense of the Mormon Church has gotten him fired again, forcing his family to move for the third time in as many years. Looking for a fresh start in Mayfield, John agrees to keep his head down. But when the owner of the local mega-church loses his pastor, he invites John to preach without asking the name of his church. After a spiritual prompting, John decides to preach, but as his following explodes, his new-found fame threatens to expose his religion and shatter his family’s hopes for a new life.
    The town of Mayfield is growing impatient with high school football coach Paul Connelly. The former pastor was hired to help save the football program after the greatest scandal in school history, but after four straight losing seasons, his time is running out. With John Peterson’s meteoric rise, the town appears to have found a new moral authority, and an excuse to find a new coach. When Paul discovers that John is a Mormon, he finds the key to restoring his moral standing—all he has to do is expose and destroy John Peterson.
    You can see the cover art at the Tongue of Fire facebook link and like the page for further updates and news.
    Thank you for your time!
    David McKnight

  • mogget

    OK, David, as it happens your plot is somewhat like my life. So I’ll take a shot at it. Stand by for an email…


  • Martin

    Great post, Mogget. In my mind, this is the essence of Christianity: to find hope and joy even in the worst of circumstances.