In our day, many people proclaim that we must always be happy and positive and if we are not, then we are need help. Emotions have been categorized into negative and positive or good and bad emotions.
The world teaches that happiness, rejoicing, and peace are good and positive emotions and we must seek for them, and that sorrow, anger, and mourning are bad and need to be cured. However, with a careful reading of the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one can learn that God takes a different view on the matter.
If we can learn the truth about emotions, we will be better equipped to deal with and understand our own.
Let’s look at some scriptures to learn truth about emotions.
Happiness and Joy
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Ne 2:25)
“And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.” (2 Ne 5:27)
The Lord made men to have joy and wants them to be happy, but there are principles to obtaining happiness. Enos talks about the “joy of the saints”. He wants to obtain this joy, so he supplicates the Lord in behalf of his soul, and later in behalf of the souls of men. Enos understood that happiness comes through righteousness.
“3 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.
4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.” (Enos 1:3-4)
Righteousness, or keeping the commandments, or living that you may have the Holy Ghost is the one and only path to happiness. Alma the Younger declared:
“Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10)
And Mormon spoke about the sorrowing of the damned. He said that is came because they wanted to be happy in their sins.
“…but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.” (Mormon 2:13)
True happiness and joy can only come from righteous living.
To rejoice is to celebrate and be glad. Rejoicing is an emotion of excitement. At times, the Lord tells the Saints to rejoice.
“Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.” (D&C 97:21)
“Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” (Revelation 18:20)
However, Satan can illicit rejoicing too.
The Books of Hosea and Proverbs from the Old Testament talk about this:
“They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.” (Hosea 7:3)
“Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the forwardness of the wicked.” (Proverbs 2:14)
Satan will cause the wicked to rejoice in their sins. They will feel excitement and want to celebrate. The Lord will cause the righteous to rejoice in salvation and the triumph of the righteous. At Temple dedications we sing, “Hosana, Hosana to God and the Lamb.” (Hymn 2)
If we feel like rejoicing, we ought to make sure that our rejoicing is in truth and not in iniquity.
Peace and Pacifying
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Notice that He said, “not as the world giveth”. Peace comes from the Savior. The Holy Ghost often grants us feelings of peace and calm as we go forward keeping the commandments, even in the midst of turmoil. These feelings give us confidence and pushes us forward in the work of God.
Yet, Nephi warns that Satan can pacify and calm.
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Ne 28:21)
We can and do have feelings of calm and security that do not come from the Lord. Many of us have heard people talking about the peace they feel about decisions to break the Sabbath day, watch a movie with pornographic content, or even leave the safety of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Unlike, the peace that comes from the Savior, instead of being moved to action and good works, we feel peace in doing nothing or doing something wrong. We become content with not improving ourselves or in not teaching and exhorting about sin. These peaceful feelings cheat us, because they pacify us toward sin, either our sins or those of the people around us.
At times anger comes from the Lord.
Saul, the King of Israel, found out that many of his people including the women and children had been slaughtered in an act of war.
“And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.”(1 Samuel 11:6)
The scripture teaches that the Holy Ghost came upon Saul. It was the Holy Ghost that elicited anger.
Captain Moroni, in the Book of Mormon, had tidings from Heleman about his men going hungry and his army not being replenished by the government. He too was moved upon by anger.
“And it came to pass that Moroni was angry with the government, because of their indifference concerning the freedom of their country.” (Alma 59:13)
In both of these cases, the emotion of anger led righteous men to do the will of the Lord.
Anger, as we all know, also comes from Satan.
“For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.” (2 Ne 28:20 )
If Satan can stir up feelings of anger over things that are good and from God, he can also stir us up in anger over ridiculous things like spilt milk. It’s good to be careful with feelings of anger.
Sorrow and Mourning for Sin
There are many reasons for sorrow, weeping, and mourning. People feel sorrow over their sins or lack of faith. This is Godly sorrow. These feelings come from the Lord. They move people to change and come unto Christ. They can be hard and intense feelings to have, but they are Godly feelings because they move people to repentance.
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
“And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:38)
Sorrowing and Mourning of the Damned
Sorrow comes from unrighteous living.
“…for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.” (Mormon 2:13)
“…while all the wicked shall mourn.” (D&C 97:21)
These feelings are real and intense and painful. But they will not move people to change and repentance. Very often, they are a source to allow Satan to move men “to anger against that which is good.” (2 Ne 28:20 ) If someone desires to be healed from the pain and sorrow that comes from sin, they must change, gain Godly sorrow and willingly repent because “wickedness never was happiness.”
Life is Hard
Sorrow and mourning come because life is hard. People will have to deal with the death of loved ones, illnesses, job loss, poverty, infertility, no opportunity to marry, loved ones leaving the paths of righteousness, and more. There are many scriptures that cover this sorrow. God Himself experiences this kind of sorrow, and expects us to allow for this sorrow in ourselves and others.
The scriptures teach:
“Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.“ (Mosiah 18:9)
“…our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days.” (Jacob 7:26)
“And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?” (Moses 7:28)
“And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4)
“Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:31)
“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.” (2 Cor. 2:4)
“33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.” (John 11: 33-35)
Categorizing emotions as positive and negative or good and bad is not the correct way to judge our emotions. Instead, we need to distinguish whether they are Godly or ungodly.
Emotions can be intense or calm, painful or wonderful. Men and women will experience great pain and sorrow and that is not bad. Jesus wept. The Heavens wept. Many prophets wept. Jacob, the Book of Mormon prophet who saw the Savior in his youth, mourned out his days. We are commanded to mourn with those who mourn.
Men and women will also experience great joy and happiness. Jacob, like Nephi also lived after the manner of happiness. Living after the manner of happiness is keeping the commandments. Living after the manner of happiness while mourning over our difficulties or the sins of others are not mutually exclusive. The Heavens weep at the unrighteous choices of others and the Heavens are happy.
Anger, rejoicing, and peace come from two sources: God and Satan. But God has not left us alone. He has given us the Holy Ghost. He has given us the scriptures. Moroni taught us the way to judge (Moroni 7:14-18). We can know we have true or Godly emotions when we judge them righteously.
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