Everyone longs to be happy. The ancient prophet Lehi states that “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 2:25). If we are here on earth to be happy, why are so many people unhappy?
Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Quorum of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seems to have the answer to my question. He discusses happiness in an article titled “Can We Live `after the Manner of happiness’?” (Ensign, September 2016, 64-67). He takes his title from another scripture in the Book of Mormon: “And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27).
Elder Nielson poses the question is, “Is it possible to live `after the manner of happiness’ … when confronted with the challenges of daily life?” His article then proceeds to explain how to do it.
“In our premortal life the Father explained His plan to us He told us we would come to earth and receive a body. We learned that we would have appetites and passions that would be difficult to control and that we would sin. We also learned that to return to the Father, we had to be clean.
“We had a serious dilemma: by entering mortality we would certainly sin, but how could we also be clean? The Father promised us He would provide a Savior who would come and atone for our sins. We `shouted for joy’ (Job 38:7).”
In the rest of His article Elder Nielson explains that the way to happiness is to put both powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ into our lives. The first power is the power of redemption. Jesus Christ took our sins upon Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and then died on the cross on Calvary to atone for the sins of all those who will repent. He has already borne the penalty for our sins. All He asks of us is that we sincerely repent and turn to Him.
Many of us repent of our sins but cannot forgive ourselves.
Elder Nielson explains, “We profess a belief in the Savior and in His Atonement, but we may have doubts that the Atonement will actually work for us. So we carry our own sins. We worry, we doubt, and sometimes we despair. That is not God’s plan for us.
“From the very beginning, the Father told us the Savior would atone for our sins if we would repent. Let Him do it. There is no reason for you to carry your own sins. If you will allow the Savior to do this, you will be free to act for yourself (see 2 Nephi 2:26; 10:23; Helaman 14:30)."
The other power of the Atonement is the enabling power. This power enables us to carry the burdens we carry in life and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Nielson explains, “We know that through the infinite Atonement, the Savior has paid for our sins. But we must also know that as we make our way through life, the `enabling power’ of the Savior’s Atonement can make our burdens light and allow us to live `after the manner of happiness.’”
Elder Nielson then quotes Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Do we also understand that the Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully? I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone – through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.” (See Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign, May 2014, 90.)
Concluding his article, Elder Nielson states, “When you face burdens in life, the key to access the Savior’s enabling power is to submit cheerfully and with patience to the will of the Lord. Allow the enabling power of the Savior to make your burdens light.”