[had Adam not transgressed]…they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. (2 Nephi 2:23)

No misery = no joy.

No sin = no good.

I get the second one. It’s the old “spotted ax” argument—good is a choice and how can you choose one thing if you don’t have other options. Experiencing those options is what gives us a true choice. So yes, I get the idea that if you don’t have some experience with sin you cannot truly say that you have chosen good.

But the joy and misery one. That’s a little harder for me. Do you really have to know misery in order to feel joy? I guess you do. It says so right there. In that scripture. Scripture which is the Word of God.

But why? How does it work?

Unless joy is also a choice.

Now that’s a thought that stops me in my tracks. Are these concepts—misery/joy and sin/good—simply two examples of the same thing? Is the word “having” not intended as we most often use it today—as a passive verb, indicating something that occurs outside our control, as in “We’re having bad weather today,” or as something forced upon us, as in “I’m so tired I have to go to bed”?

Maybe, instead, it intended as an active verb to connote choice, as in “I’ll have the potatoes, please”?

As an active verb, you cannot choose the potatoes unless there are other options, like rice or french fries, or even nothing at all. In that usage, “having no joy, for they knew no misery” actually makes sense.

Well, I’ve certainly known my share of misery and sadness. Does that mean I can now choose joy? Okay, then. Let’s test it.


I have way too much work to do and I am feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. (misery)

I have many people who value my skills and want my help in creating their books. (joy)


Oh, that was kind of cool. Let’s try it again.


My arthritis is killing me—my hips, knees, ankles and toe joints hurt so bad I can barely walk. (misery)

Despite the pain, I can still walk. I am not crippled. I can move and go whenever and wherever I want. (joy)



Okay, let’s try a big one.


My 19 year old daughter is 16 weeks pregnant and considering shacking up with her boyfriend so they can co-parent, even though they do not love each other enough to get married. (misery)

My daughter is facing some tough life choices. The experience of which may create a situation which brings her closer to Christ. (joy)


Oh, I think I get it now.

Joy is a choice.

~Karlene B.

©2012 Hearthaven Publishing. All rights reserved.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *