This is Part 2 of a 2-part post. Part 1 talked about the path to true happiness and can be read here.
“Endure to the end” is a common phrase found in LDS terminology. The dictionary definition of endure means to suffer patiently or to remain in existence. So it’s common to view the term in a negative way. However, when applied to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to endure is a very positive thing. As briefly introduced in Part 1, endurance and happiness can be misconceived as opposites. I would like to use Part 2 to show how we can find happiness in the face of enduring to the end.
When I was younger I took swimming lessons at my local recreation center. During the final level of lessons, Level 7 (which took a few years to get to), I dreamed of getting on the swim team. I didn’t pass Level 7 the first time around, and my coach told my mom it was because I didn’t have enough endurance that passing required. I took Level 7 again, and passed the second time, but barely. The coach took pity on me and moved the brick from 12 feet to 6 feet so that I could succeed in diving to the bottom of the pool and bringing the brick to the surface – so I guess I didn’t really pass, the coach accommodated for me. The word endurance was brought up frequently that it was something that I didn’t have, so I didn’t attempt the swim team, and I hated the word endurance.
Luckily for people like me, it is spiritual endurance, not physical endurance, that God asks us to have. But why do we have to endure, or suffer patiently, if the gospel is supposed to bring us happiness? Because outside forces, such as temptations, trials, and the actions of others can affect our happiness. This is where enduring to the end comes in. All of the scriptures that talk about enduring to the end promise that those who endure to the end will be saved and receive eternal life. However, each scripture also couples enduring to the end with other aspects of living the gospel. This leads me to believe that in order to successfully endure the tribulations of the world, we must be living the gospel as fully as we can.
The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi coupled enduring to the end with seeking “to bring forth Zion,” having the gift of the Holy Ghost, obeying the commandments, and believing the words of the Prophets. (1 Nephi 13:37, 22:31, 2 Nephi 33:4) In the Book of Omni, we are told to come unto Christ, offer our whole souls, and fast and pray (Omni 1:26). When Jesus Christ visited the American continent after His resurrection, He told those listening, “Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live.” (3 Nephi 15:9) The prophet Mormon added that we should “do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Mormon 9:29) During the restoration, the Lord reminded us through revelation to Joseph Smith to once again keep the commandments, repent, be baptized, and endure to the end with the promise of being saved and gaining eternal life. (D&C 14:7, 18:22)
What happens if we don’t endure to the end? That answer can be found in 2 Nephi.
“24 And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it.” (2 Nephi 9:24)
“16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
“20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore,if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father; Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:16, 20)
I know that those first two verses don’t leave one feeling warm and fuzzy inside, but they are important to understand. Notice, that like the other scriptures pointed out earlier, these also couple not enduring to the end with not doing other gospel related things as well: repentance, believing in Christ, baptism, and following the example of Christ. Living the gospel gives us strength to endure, not living the gospel will ensure that we do not have the strength to endure. And that’s where verse 20 comes in with its message of hope: commit to Christ, have hope, love God and our fellow men, feast upon the words of Christ (his doctrine), and endure to the end. This is why we can be happy while we endure to the end, because the same things that bring us happiness, give us the strength to endure.
In Elder L. Whitney Clayton’s April 2017 general conference address, he shared the experience of a bishop giving his ward members advice as they came to him with their trials. The bishop counseled the members to focus on “simple practices of faith” like studying the Book of Mormon, paying tithing, and service. That advice did not sit well with the members that he counseled, many asked him, “what does doing any of those things have to do with the issues I’m facing?” Elder Clayton has the answer for all of us:
“…those who are deliberate about doing the ‘small and simple things’ – obeying in seemingly little ways – are blessed with faith and strength that go far beyond the actual acts of obedience themselves and, in fact may seem totally unrelated to them. It may seem hard to draw a connection between the basic daily acts of obedience and solutions to big, complicated problems we face. But they are related…
…God asks us to bear with Him – to trust Him and to follow Him. He pleads with us to ‘dispute not because ye see not.’ He cautions us that we shouldn’t expect easy answers or quick fixes from heaven. Things work out when we stand firm during the ‘trial of [our] faith,’ however hard that test may be to endure or slow the answer may be in coming. I am not speaking of ‘blind obedience’ but of thoughtful confidence in the perfect love and the perfect timing of the Lord.” (emphasis added)
We will all come across trials and burdens, but with the help of Jesus Christ and His gospel, we will be given the strength to endure the difficult times in our lives. And yes, we absolutely can find happiness while we endure. When we have feelings of sadness, fear, or anger, does that mean we are living the gospel incorrectly? No! It’s what we do with those feelings. Do we cling tighter to Jesus Christ and call on Him for help? Or do we let are negative feelings drag us down and walk away from the path that leads home to God? Jesus Christ is there, He wants to help us, to bring us happiness. It’s our job to open the door and let Him in.