I was actually listening to the audio version of the Book of Mormon while mowing my lawn and Alma 28:8 stuck out to me:
“And this is the account of Ammon and his brethren, their journeyings in the land of Nephi,
their sufferings in the land,
their sorrows, and
their afflictions, and
their incomprehensible joy…”
I love the juxtaposition of the items listed here, and the last one is so jarring that it catches your attention. This verse reminds me of life in a nutshell; the suffering, sorrow, and afflictions are par for the course. Then there is this incomprehensible joy, but what do we understand about it?
I believe that joy as mentioned in the Book of Mormon has a connection to being Born of God and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. No matter where we stand on earth, we’ll have the suffering, sorrow, afflictions, and periodic happy moments but this incomprehensible joy is something known only to those who find God and partake of the fruit of the tree of life. The word “joy” is mentioned more in the Book of Mormon than in any of the other standard works. Here are a few of my favorites:
“…and as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy…” (1 Nephi 8:12)
“Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth. Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.” (Alma 27:17-18)
“And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” (Alma 36:20)
“…and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience…” (Mosiah 4:3)
“…the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul…” (Alma 19:6)
“And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.” (3 Nephi 17:17)
“And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;” (3 Nephi 28:10)
“I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy;” (Alma 33:11)
“What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.” (Alma 22:15)
“…they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.” (Helaman 5:44)
The word incomprehensible means: “That cannot be comprehended or understood; That is beyond the reach of human intellect; inconceivable.” (Webster’s 1828) I think the idea of incomprehensible joy is something profound. Something that is incomprehensible is beyond human intellect which means we won’t get there in our thinking or experience, not even with all the human minds in the world. Our perception has to pierce the limits of human understanding, and there must be a meeting of the mortal and the divine.
God has ordained a path for this, and the gate to that path is baptism. God wants this to happen, he wants to open the heavens and commune, but he will not force it on us. The creator of the universe, the one who holds it all in place by virtue of the faith that is in him, respects the agency of the very least of us. The idea of that is just staggering to consider.
God could have created any number of ways for us to commune with him, he could have demanded anything of us for the privilege of this communion. Many celebrities and politicians are practically untouchable without paying thousands of dollars for their time. Mortal men and women, just as frail as ourselves and we look to them with awe and sacrifice so much for their presence.
Our Father, the creator of all, asks us to go down into the water. He asks us to drop our weapons of rebellion and the things that poison and harm us and come to him for healing and light. Human intellect is too blind and constricted; it holds a grain of sand and thinks it has the world.
God is accessible to all of us, not based on what we possess, but what we are willing to let go.
Though we may know suffering, sorrow, and afflictions in this life, it can all be swallowed up in incomprehensible joy.
Thanks for your insight. I too was struck by the words ‘incomprehensible joy’ in amongst suffering, sorrow and afflictions… I quickly reminded myself that we are here on earth to experience incomprehensible joy… when we focus on Our Saviour and His Atonement during good and especially during hard times we will indeed have joy. Thank you