Yesterday, I wrote about what the Book of Mormon teaches us about happiness.
Today, I would like to consider what the Book of Mormon teaches us about sadness.
1. Sadness is a fact of life.
Alma referred to mortal life as “this vale of sorrow” (Alma 37:45). Jacob said that he and his people “did mourn out our days” (Jacob 7:26). Certainly, there are some periods in our lives when we are free from sorrow, but we will also all experience disappointments and tragedies.
2. Sadness and joy can coexist.
When the people of Alma and the people of Limhi returned to the land of Zarahemla, their story caused the Nephites to feel both happiness and sadness. Some parts of the story filled them with joy, while other parts of the story caused them to shed “many tears of sorrow” (Mosiah 25:8-11).
Mormon concludes his account of the mission of the sons of Mosiah by highlighting “their journeyings in the land of Nephi, their sufferings in the land, their sorrows, and their afflictions, and their incomprehensible joy” (Alma 28:9).
3. Prophets feel sorrow for the sins of other people.
The most common cause of sorrow in the Book of Mormon is the sins of other people. Lehi, Sariah, Nephi, Jacob, Alma, and Mormon all report feeling sorrow because of the sins of their people. Alma, for example, was “weighed down with sorrow” and suffered “much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah” (Alma 7:5).
4. As we become more like God, we are more likely to feel sadness for the suffering of others.
Alma taught his people that, when they were baptized, they made a promise to “mourn with those that mourn” (Mosiah 18:9).
Isaiah described Jesus as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Mosiah 14:3-4).
Mormon wrote that his readers who are close to God “will sorrow for the destruction of [his] people” (Mormon 5:11).
As we learn to love other people more, we have more empathy, which means that we feel more sorrow when we see other people suffering.
5. Sadness can motivate us to repent, but only if we choose to humble ourselves.
When Mormon’s armies began to sorrow, he was filled with hope, because he thought they would be motivated to repent. Unfortunately, “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 2:12-13).
6. Extreme sadness can lead to inaction. When we feel like giving up, we need to exercise faith and keep moving forward.
Ammon recalled that he and his brothers had become discouraged during their mission among the Lamanites: “When our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success” (Alma 26:27). With the Lord’s encouragement, they continued to serve, and they were successful.
7. God will eventually take away our sorrows.
Alma taught that, after we die, “the spirits of those who are righteous [will be] received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow” (Alma 40:12).
Today, I will remember the important role sadness can play in my life. I will allow sorrow to motivate me to positive action. I will recommit to “mourn with those that mourn.” I will remember that sadness and joy are both important parts of my discipleship.