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Jesus Christ is Joy

Audio: "Jesus Christ is Joy"
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Thank you for the wonderful music that invites the Holy Ghost to testify of Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, do you know how incredible you are?

With faith in Jesus Christ, you open the heavens. [1]

My prayer is that our combined faith will keep the heavens open for us to feel our Redeemer’s love.

Something I’ve learned from this opportunity to speak is there isn’t a minimum age requirement for employees to speak at a devotional. I’m closer in age to more students than co-workers. Only six years ago I was finishing my undergrad degree. During my first semester, to decide on a major, I took accounting, computer science, and chemistry. Balancing financial statements came more intuitively than balancing chemical equations and programming so I chose business.

After my first year at school, I served a mission in Chile. My mission president encouraged us to come to know Jesus Christ. I’ve felt great purpose in coming to know Him not only on my mission, but every day of my life.

When I returned to school, I found a sweet spot in marketing as an overlap of creativity and analytics. Both are skills I still use in my work.

Earning a degree is a rewarding challenge. During the homestretch of this semester, see the upcoming Easter season as a testament of the help offered to you by the Living Christ. Remember, “heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.” [2] I am too.

My message today is that Jesus Christ is joy. You can experience His joy, even during the discomfort inherent in challenges. I’ll share how I’ve seen joy as power from Jesus Christ to endure and learn from discomfort.

I discovered joyful endurance during a time when I wanted to quit. In July 2022, I was half-way through a 13-mile Spartan race. Spartan races are obstacle courses organized by the company Spartan. The courses test physical and mental endurance through a series of 20 to 30 obstacles set up on trails ranging in length from 3 to 13 miles with 500 to 3,000 feet of elevation gain.

I was on a course at Snowbasin Resort on Mount Ogden in Utah. Kelsey Winn, a writer for Spartan, describes:

Snowbasin was home to the 2002 Winter Olympics. . . If it’s a challenge fit for Olympians, it’s certainly fit for Spartans. . . Mount Ogden. . . will have you climbing a 3,000-foot vertical to its summit in one of our toughest treks yet. The trails here are designed for epic ski conditions, so get ready for the staples of the course: intense elevation, technical terrain, and leg-burning hills. [3]

While I was staring up one of these “leg-burning hills,” my entire body felt tired from the hills, obstacles, heat, and altitude. Reaching the top seemed like an impossible climb. “It would be so easy to quit,” I thought.

My coach, who was racing with me, said, as if he read my thoughts, “You can do this. Focus on the next step.” His words took my focus from the top of the hill to my feet. Taking one more step was possible. I couldn’t control the hill’s height or slope, but I could control my choice to climb. The choice to climb became a joyful discovery of my ability and motivation to endure.

Michael Dunn, in a BYU devotional, put it this way:

One of the reasons we . . . feel so compelled to climb and conquer [mountains] is because of the fundamental . . . truth that, as eternally progressing beings, we are predisposed to take on challenges . . . Mountains stretch us, break us down, and can sometimes even bring us to an exasperated halt. At the same time . . . they have this transformative ability to rekindle hope . . . and hone our faith, step by courageous step. This mandates a never-before-thought-possible ability to push ourselves to unthinkable heights, for it is only in testing our limits that we find out how limitless we are. It is only then—when we push ourselves beyond our perceived capacity—that we discover within ourselves the courage, fortitude, and faith to continue the journey. [4]

Life is a series of metaphorical mountains. As we summit these mountains, we discover the joy of being eternally progressing children of God who have access to His power to endure.

President Russel M. Nelson taught about the divine power of joy we can access:

[Jesus Christ] offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension. For example, it doesn’t seem possible to feel joy when your child suffers with an incurable illness or when you lose your job . . . Yet that is precisely the joy the Savior offers. His joy is constant, assuring us that our ‘afflictions shall be but a small moment’ and be consecrated to our gain . . . the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. He is the source of all joy. [5]

Powerful joy is possible because Jesus Christ’s Atonement is real and we are in control of our focus on Him. At the beginning of devotional, we heard Paul’s words: “Jesus . . . for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross.” [6] President Nelson expanded on Paul’s teaching. Listen for why and how Jesus Christ focused on joy:

In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy! What was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families. [7]

Jesus Christ focused on joy to endure the suffering associated with His atoning sacrifice, making it possible for joy to be set before each of us. Endurance can be a fascinating adventure of discovering His joy. I’ll share three discoveries of Jesus Christ’s joy I have experienced:

  • The joy of seeing the extraordinary ordinary
  • The joy of a personal reunion with Him
  • And the joy of becoming a conduit of His love.

I discovered the joy of seeing the extraordinary ordinary during a time when Heaven seemed distant. During a morning workout, the weights felt light compared to the heavy question on my mind of why God felt far away. While driving home from the gym, I had the thought to notice what surrounded me. And when I did, I saw God. He was in the sunrise, grass, and birds. He was in my family and friends. He was in the complexities of my physical body: the heart, eyes, and hands that all functioned without conscious thought. He was in the Book of Mormon, Bible, and words of living prophets. These ordinary things became extraordinary as I more clearly saw God in them.

One of my favorite paintings is titled Calm and Stars. [8] As you look at this painting, imagine being in the place of the man holding the paddle.

Imagine the wonder of being surrounded by thousands of stars, brilliant in the sky above and watery reflection below, and then, feeling even more wonder at realizing that you are with the Creator of the stars and sea. What would He talk about? I believe He would look up and speak about His “worlds without end,” and then, with His focus now completely on you, teach the profound truth “you matter to me . . . The purpose for this magnificent universe is to save and exalt [you]. . . Heavenly Father created the universe that you might reach your potential as His son or daughter. . . [you] are everything to God.” [9]

He would teach us that we are extraordinary.

For anyone who may feel, as I felt, that God was distant, look for Him in all that surrounds you: His creations, His words, and the good people He puts in your life. Then, welcome His love and joy as you see the extraordinary around you and in you.

Being surrounded by God’s extraordinary creations reminds us that we are living His plan of salvation. This plan is specific to each of us because at its center is Jesus Christ’s individualized Atonement “to bring to pass [our] immortality and eternal life.” [10] Our lives our blessed with joy when we choose to have a glorious reunion and eternal life with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father by the decisions we make now.

As a student, I attended a worldwide devotional for young adults given by President Nelson where he described a personal reunion with Jesus Christ. Listen to his description:

In a coming day, you will present yourself before the Savior. You will be overwhelmed to the point of tears to be in His holy presence. You will struggle to find words to thank Him for paying for your sins, for forgiving you of any unkindness toward others, for healing you from the injuries and injustices of this life.

You will thank Him for strengthening you to do the impossible, for turning your weaknesses into strengths, and for making it possible for you to live with Him and your family forever. His identity, His Atonement, and His attributes will become personal and real to you.

But you don’t have to wait until then. Choose to be one of His true disciples now. Be one who truly loves Him, who truly wants to serve and lead as He did. [11]

We are spiritually reunited with Jesus Christ now by inviting His influence through the Holy Ghost. “We know that if we can be worthy of the presence of the Holy Ghost, we can also be worthy to live in the presence of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.” [12] The daily joy He sets before us is access to His strength, commandments, mercy, comfort, and gospel to improve our lives.

While teaching about His gospel, Jesus Christ said, “Whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.” [13]

“Whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.” [14]

In this teaching, endurance is not about the circumstance being endured, but the person’s enduring beliefs and characteristics. The person is one who believes in and is becoming like Jesus Christ through repentance, covenant keeping, and discipleship. Enduring beliefs and characteristics are developed by how we choose to respond to life’s circumstances. Choosing to respond with righteous characteristics and beliefs unites us with Jesus Christ.

A couple of years ago, I had shoulder surgery that limited the use of my dominant arm for a few months. My initial response was frustration; however, I found joy in prayerfully working with Jesus Christ to replace my frustration with His patience.

To determine and strengthen our enduring characteristics and beliefs, here are some questions to consider:

  • First, “What would you like said about you at your funeral?” [15]
  • Next, when I stand in the presence of God, who do I want to have become?
  • And what insight can I find from my patriarchal blessing about who I am to be?

Recently, President Nelson taught about our choice to live the enduring identities Child of God, Disciple of Jesus Christ, and Child of the Covenant. [16] Choosing to live these identities leads us to strengthen Christlike characteristics and belief in Him. His joy is felt when we humbly and faithfully trust that His grace is sufficient for any aspect of life we strive to improve. [17] Such as being more compassionate with family, a better listener at work, or more diligent in caring for body and mind. Joy is felt in the process of improving our lives by becoming like Jesus Christ.

During our efforts to improve, we naturally look around at where we are compared to others. Comparison has been called the “thief of joy.” [18] As we focus on the gap between where we are and where we want to be, comparison creeps in, steals joy, and leaves discouragement in its place.

Last semester, I took a Beginning Swimming class on campus. One day we had a competition. As I swam my first event, the 100-freestyle, I was very conscious of my position compared to the other swimmers. I was way behind. When I looked back while taking a breath, I saw swimmers going in the other direction. They were so far ahead I couldn’t catch up. Discouragement flooded my thoughts. Then, an impression came: “Focus on what you have gained.” Swimming was helping me gain more shoulder mobility. I learned new strokes and made new friends. I finished the swim with joy because I saw how far I had come.

Perhaps you feel like I did during the swimming competition. When you look up, you see those you consider as being “ahead” of you. They have better grades, a cool job at a great company, or a stronger testimony. If this comparison has stolen your joy and discouragement is flooding your thoughts, “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [your] faith” for encouragement. [19]

To discouraged saints in the Book of Mormon and to Latter-day Saints, including you, Jesus Christ says,

“Blessed art thou . . . because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.” [20]

“Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me.” [21]

“Lift up thy head and rejoice . . . for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God.” [22]

Jesus Christ wants you to see with joy, as He does, your gains in daily living and learning. Look at how far you have come and how He has helped you get to where you are.

Because of the improvements we make, Jesus Christ trusts us to use the compassion, patience, and diligence He has blessed us with to strengthen and support others. He transforms us into conduits of His attributes. Joy is set before us in opportunities to be conduits of His love. This joy is relief during endurance.

One summer, I moved across the country, from Washington to Connecticut, for an internship close to New York City. I was the only intern from the West coast and didn’t know anyone in the area. I felt a twinge of jealousy for the interns living close to family.

At the beginning of the summer, I went to the Manhattan temple. As I sat for a minute in the temple’s hallway, a temple presidency counselor walking by stopped to talk with me and I told him about my internship. He asked if I would like to serve as an ordinance worker while I was in the area. I told him I’d love to. For the rest of the summer, I woke up early on Saturdays to catch a train into the city and a subway to the temple. Whenever I started to feel lonely or homesick, I looked to the joy set before me of serving temple patrons, their ancestors, and the Lord in His house.

Another example of how supporting others brings relief is from the experience of a retired U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret) officer during a physically demanding training:

I was exhausted [and] freezing . . . I was lost in my own mind . . . trying to survive just a little longer . . . Suddenly and unprompted, I stopped what I was doing and lifted my head . . . I looked around. I saw my teammates going through the same pain and suffering that I was. I realized I wasn't alone. That realization gave me courage. I noticed that some of my teammates were struggling even more than I was . . . I wanted to help them. That's the moment I learned empathy. I started to shift my focus from me to them. I shouted words of encouragement . . . We no longer were suffering as individuals; we were suffering as a team. The exercise finally ended, and . . . I realized that in helping others, I had forgotten my pain. [23]

Everyone is experiencing discomfort during their endurance. To find some relief, look around at roommates, classmates, and coworkers and feel the joy of being a true disciple who builds, lifts, and encourages them. [24]

Sister Patirica Holland said, “None of us have the energy, time, resources, or strength to do all that our hearts would like us to do . . . Our hearts do exceed our capacity. How wonderful it is that God’s power moving through us can . . . multiply our limited efforts and do for others that which we could never do alone.” [25]

On the second floor of the Kimball building is a plaque with this teaching from President Kimball: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” [26] Sisters and brothers, because of your discipleship, you are and will continue to be answers to prayers.

Consider often this question: What will you be able to endure as you focus on the joy that Jesus Christ has “set before” you and those you love? [27]

As we endure, may we do so joyfully with a focus on Jesus Christ, realizing that our lives are extraordinary because of Him. May we experience a glorious, daily reunion with Jesus Christ, made possible through His Atonement consecrating our efforts to become like Him. May we feel an endowment of joy from Him because of our covenant decision to endure to the end and help others to do the same. May we each discover more fully that Jesus Christ is joy. In His name, Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] See “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018,

[2] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You,” Ensign, May, 2016,

[3] Kelsey Wynn, “These Are the 10 Hardest Spartan Races on the Schedule. Can You Conquer Them?,”, n.d.,

[4] Michael A. Dunn, “Why Mountains?,” BYU Speeches, October 2019,

[5] Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign, November 2016,

[6] Hebrews 12:2.

[7] Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival.”

[8] Youngsung Kim, Calm and Stars,

[9] Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Matter to Him,” Ensign, November 2011,

[10] Moses 1:39.

[11] Russell M. Nelson, “Prophets, Leadership, and Divine Law,” [Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, January 7, 2017] Media Library

[12] “Conversion is Our Goal,” Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon, 2024,

[13] 3 Nephi 27:16.

[14] 3 Nephi 27:6.

[15] See Alvin F. Meredith III, “Begin with the End in Mind,” BYUI devotional, January 2024,

[16] Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity,” [Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, May 2022] Media Library,

[17] Ether 12:27.

[18] Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt.

[19] Hebrews 12:2.

[20] 1 Nephi 2:19.

[21] Mosiah 24:13.

[22] Alma 8:15.

[23] Jason B.A. Van Camp, Deliberate Discomfort, 2020, 43.

[24] Russell M. Nelson, “Peacemakers Needed,” Liahona, May 2023,

[25] Patricia T. Holland, “A Future Filled with Hope,” [Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, January 2023] Media Library,

[26] Spencer W. Kimball, “Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, December 1974

[27] See President Nelson’s “Joy and Spiritual Survival.”