Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happiness - The John Tanner Story

Where does happiness come from? We can get many different answers from different sources. The world tells us that when we act on our immediate desires we gain happiness. This gives us pleasure, which can be a temporary substitute for lasting happiness. True happiness comes from following the plan that God has created for us. Who would know better than our Father what will make us happy?

The other day I watched a video about a man named John Tanner. He was a self-made wealthy man who was converted to the LDS faith in the early years of the church. The missionaries taught him, and he had a desire to be baptized. He couldn't however, because of a diseased leg that crippled him. The missionaries asked him if he had the faith to be healed. He did and the Lord healed him. He was baptized that evening.

Throughout the rest of his life he was called upon to help the church with its financial struggles. He willingly did so and over the course of his life gave 50,000 dollars to the church (we did the math and it came out to be around 2 million dollars in our money today). This cost him and his family a great deal. They had become poor and actually had to beg for food to survive. At the end of the film, he was called on a mission. Before he left he forgave the church all the debt they owed him. He then left his family to serve the Lord.

My feelings during this movie centered mostly on the great sacrifice of this man. To give all your money, and then watch your children go hungry would be a huge trial. I wondered at the great devotion and faith of this man. Then a thought hit me. Brother Tanner must have been happier during this trial of his life than at any time before. He knew the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he lived it! He accepted the Lords will for him, and did all he could to serve.

This emphasized the point that money does not bring happiness, living the gospel brings happiness. In 2 Nephi 2:27 it says, "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself." The happiness from liberty and eternal life doesn't have to be just a future blessing. As we are obedient to the commandments now, we receive the blessings now.

The choices we make determine our happiness. Let us all choose to follow the Lord, choose to feel of his love, and choose to be happy at all times and in all places. As we do so, we will more fully become the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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