When Ammon and his three brothers were reunited with their good friend Alma after fourteen years of separation, they were all filled with joy. Ammon, however, had an unusually dramatic reaction to this meeting:
He was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell…to the earth (Alma 27:17).
Mormon explains that Ammon was experiencing an unusual level of joy, and he explains why:
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 27:18).
Ammon had experienced something similar before. When King Lamoni and his wife had accepted the gospel and been overpowered by the Spirit of the Lord, Ammon had offered a heartfelt prayer of gratitude. During that prayer, “he was also overpowered with
As Ammon later recounted his missionary experiences, he said, “My joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God” (Alma 26:11).
Alma also testified that he was filled with joy as a result of his missionary experiences and the missionary experiences of his friends (Alma 29:13-14).
A deep sensitivity to emotion is a characteristic of the Savior. During His ministry on the American continent, after He prayed with the people, He said, “My joy is full.”
And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
And when he had done this he wept again (3 Nephi 17:20-22).
In contrast, hardness of heart is an undesirable state. Nephi and Mormon both lamented people who were “past feeling” (1 Nephi 17:45, Moroni 9:20). Jesus taught that, in the last days, “the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). Suppression of conscience disconnects us from our emotions. Sincere repentance connects us with them again. I think that is why Mormon attributes Ammon’s joy to his penitence and humility.
Today, I will strive to be penitent, humble, and open to the full range of emotions, including joy. I will remember that a broken and contrite heart is more sensitive to emotions, and can therefore experience a level of joy which a hardened heart is unable to feel.