From the book of Psalms we read:
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
“And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment, as the noonday.” (Ps. 37:3–6.)
The scriptures have always seemed to equate righteous living with a special light, spirit, joy, and happiness in the lives of those who so live.
Many years ago when I was a retail executive, we had a night watchman in one of our stores whose teenage daughter had just joined our church. He would often comment on the change that had occurred in the life of his daughter. Her baptism had brought a new spirit into their home. I was attempting to use this event as a base to teach him the gospel.
One evening as I was leaving the store, he was by the exit checking out the late customers who had completed their purchases after the store had closed. I stopped for a minute to visit with him. He immediately commenced to tell me about his daughter. He said, “You know, she just radiates since she joined your church.”
I proceeded to tell him that having a trust in the Lord and conforming our life to the gospel plan does make a change, even in our countenance. Just at that time I noticed two ladies approaching the door with several other customers. They were neatly dressed, and their faces reflected a special glow. As if my eyes were directed, I immediately noticed a “Duty to God” pin on one of the lady’s dresses, which many of our fine young men present to their mothers after achieving this special award. I turned to my friend and said, “Look at those two ladies coming towards the door. They have a different look. They, too, are members of our church.”
He was so caught up in my remark that he rushed over to them and asked, “Are you Mormons?” After confirming this fact, he returned to me shaking his head and saying, “You know, you can tell the difference.” I agree with him. There is a difference in those “who trust in the Lord and do good.”
History has given us evidence of this fact from the very beginning. When I read the scriptures, I try to make them come alive. I try to make an association with the great characters described therein.
Let me illustrate with an example. Beginning with the thirty-seventh chapter of the book of Genesis, we read a remarkable story about a family who had a large number of boys. One of the sons, Joseph, was loved by his father more than his other brothers. To show his love and appreciation for his son, his father made him a coat of many colors. “And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” (Gen. 37:4.)
Joseph didn’t help matters much. He dreamed dreams and then would tell them to his brethren, and they hated him even more. Could you imagine how such a dream would go over in your family? He said to his brothers,
“Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
“For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
“And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.” (Gen. 37:6–8.)
To complicate the process, his father allowed Joseph to stay home with him and sent his brethren out into the fields to tend the flocks. Every now and then he would send Joseph out to check up on his brothers. One day when they saw him coming from afar, they felt as if they could stand him no longer and conspired to slay him. They conceived a plan whereby they would kill him and cast him into a pit, then tell their father some evil beast had devoured Joseph.
A brother saw a caravan coming from a distance on its way to Egypt, and said,
“What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
“Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Gen. 37:26–27.)
And they took their seventeen-year-old brother and sold him as a slave to a caravan going into Egypt, a strange land, where they spoke a strange tongue and had strange customs. But the Lord was with this remarkable young man, and he seemed never to be discouraged. Though a stranger, a slave, his countenance must have radiated a special spirit. When offered for sale, he was purchased by a captain of the king’s guard. It was only a short time before Joseph had so distinguished himself to the captain that he made him ruler over his house. In authority he was the first servant; and he was made overseer over all the captain had, and the captain put his complete trust, his properties, his income, into the hands of Joseph.
Joseph was a “goodly person” and achieved a position of prominence through the help of the Lord. But trouble began again. This handsome young man attracted the eyes of the wife of the captain of the guard. One day when he was working alone in the house, she heard him and came in and put her hand on his coat. Joseph, being a righteous young man, knew that this was no place for him, and he jumped out of his garment and fled. The wife was left holding Joseph’s garment in her hand. When her husband came home, she told a terrible story about Joseph, and the captain became so angry he had Joseph cast into prison. Once again in his young life he found himself in great difficulty—this time in prison.
Joseph was not easily discouraged. He set about becoming the best prisoner within the prison, and he gained favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Insomuch that the scriptures record, “And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.” (Gen. 39:22.) You see, Joseph was given the position of the highest prisoner, and all the prisoners were turned over to his charge. Again in a difficult circumstance, Joseph became the best—even as a prisoner.
Cast into prison shortly after Joseph were two of the king’s officers, the chief butler and the chief baker. Joseph soon became acquainted with them. Both of them had dreams. Because Joseph was a righteous man, they asked him to interpret their dreams. Joseph was able to do this. To one he said, you will not get out of prison but lose your life here. To the other he said, you will soon have the opportunity of returning to your position of honor with the Pharaoh. Then he asked the one who would have the opportunity of being restored to his former position to please remember him to the Pharaoh because he had progressed as far as he could as a prisoner.
The chief butler was restored to his position of prominence in the king’s service but forgot all about Joseph in prison for two full years. One day the king had a dream which none of the wise men could interpret. When the chief butler then remembered Joseph, he went to the king and said there was a man in prison who could interpret the dream. The Pharaoh sent for Joseph. And Joseph, with the inspiration of the Lord, interpreted the king’s dream. The king was so impressed with Joseph, he was released from prison and became a servant to the Pharaoh. Joseph again so distinguished himself as to become chief in all the land, second only to the Pharaoh himself. (See Gen. 40–41.)
Because of the service Joseph rendered, the Pharaoh said unto his servants, “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” (Gen. 41:38.) The Pharaoh recognized that Joseph was, indeed, directed by the Lord when he said unto Joseph, “forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art.” (Gen. 41:39.)
When one follows the course marked by the road signs of the gospel of Jesus Christ and places his trust in the Lord, its influence is such that it is manifest not only in action and deed but by a marked and visible change in his very being. There is a special light and a spirit which radiates from his eternal soul. It can be described in words like brightness, light, joy, happiness, peace, purity, contentment, spirit, enthusiasm, etc.
Brigham Young has said, “The person who enjoys the experience of the knowledge of the Kingdom of God on the earth, and at the same time has the love of God within him, is the happiest of any individuals on the earth. …
“You never saw a true Saint in the world that had sorrow, neither can you find one. If persons are destitute of the fountain of living water, or the principles of eternal life, then they are sorrowful. If the words of life dwell within us, and we have the hope of eternal life and glory, and let that spark within us kindle to a flame, to the consuming of the least and last remains of selfishness, we never can walk in darkness and are strangers to doubt and fear. …
“It does make the devil mad. That is true, it makes him mad that he cannot afflict this people so as to make them have a sad countenance. …
“Where is happiness, real happiness? Nowhere but in God. By possessing the spirit of our holy religion, we are happy in the morning, we are happy at noon, we are happy in the evening; for the spirit of love and union is with us, and we rejoice in the spirit because it is of God, and we rejoice in God, for he is the giver of every good thing. Every Latter-day Saint, who has experienced the love of God in his heart, after having received the remission of his sins, through baptism, and the laying on of hands, realizes that he is filled with joy, and happiness, and consolation. He may be in pain, in error, in poverty, or in prison, if necessity demands, still, he is joyful. This is our experience, and each and every Latter-day Saint can bear witness to it.
“Truly happy is that man or woman, or that people, who enjoys the privileges of the Gospel of the Son of God, and who know how to appreciate his blessings.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, pp. 235–36.)
If this really works, it is the greatest source of happiness to be found on earth. Let me cite one more example as it was written in a recent Ensign magazine.
“In the summer of 1953 I was a sixteen-year-old apprentice actress. … Our lead actress was a pretty red-haired girl who had won the lead role in a competition (so I understood) in New York. … She and I shared a suite of rooms, and every morning when I woke up I saw [her] sitting on her bed reading. I awoke to that sight, no matter what the hour, for four months.
“The news quickly spread that she was a Mormon, and in an environment where morals simply did not exist, she was as pure as snow. No drinking, no smoking, not even in plays, and no men in her room. She loved everyone, and she was so gentle and friendly even though she was the “star.” And always in the morning she was reading and reading, not her scripts, but some other books and magazines that she had brought with her.
“She never talked to me about her religion, and I never asked her. But I never forgot her.
“Many years later, after I had married and already had two children, my husband and I became dissatisfied with our spiritual lives. We took religion courses and went to all kinds of churches, but we still were not satisfied.
“Then I remembered [her]. She had been, they said, a Mormon. We had no idea what a Mormon was, and I didn’t remember even talking about them in school history. So I went to the public library in the little Alabama town of Opelika, and checked out the only thing I could find: ‘Mormon, The Book of.’ In the back was a list of mission homes and I wrote to the nearest one, which was in Georgia, and asked if they accepted converts. The rest is part of our family history.
“I’ve never been able to find that young lady to tell her that, because she lived her religion in a way that I could not forget, thirty-seven people on both sides of our families are members of the Church. Countless others in the spirit world also have been given the opportunity.” (Ensign, Dec. 1977, p. 62.)
How the world needs the example of those who will let the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ radiate from their eternal souls! How we need to show that righteous living yields an eternal joy!
To you who have embraced the gospel of our Lord and Savior, stand as a beacon upon a hill to light the way for those who seek a happier, more fulfilling life. To you who have not discovered this greatest of all gifts, come join with us and let us assist you in building a better life. By conforming our lives to the teachings of our Savior, we can bring greater joy to a troubled world.
I humbly pray that we will place our “trust in the Lord and do good” so that it may also be said of us, as it was of Joseph of old, as we live as examples of the gospel of Jesus Christ, “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” (Gen. 41:38.)
God lives. Jesus is the Christ. This is his church. This is my humble witness to you today, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.