It occurs to me that many obedient souls are rightfully and faithfully following Jesus Christ as best they can. They abide by the principles of the gospel as best they understand them. They strive to keep the commandments, attend their meetings, obey the Word of Wisdom, pay an honest tithe, read their scriptures, love and teach their children, live morally clean, show kindness to others, and generally keep themselves unspotted from the world. What they do is commendable, and I’m sure the Lord is pleased. We should admire and respect their righteous efforts. And we should do likewise. They are faithfully and diligently pressing forward in righteousness to the end, or “enduring to the end” (2 Nephi 31:20). By faithfully pressing forward in righteousness, we will find hope, joy, and happiness.
But, what of this word “endure?” It conjures up the notion of abiding or persevering through painful or difficult conditions. To be sure, sometimes life is difficult, and at times we must “endure.” But perhaps, as in the case above, we should be thinking “righteous endurance” to the end, or “continuing in righteousness to the end!” I believe we should faithfully and diligently be pressing forward in righteousness (obedience to the laws of God) to the end. If we press forward with faith, then we should find much hope and happiness in this life (much to have hope in, much to have hope for, and much to be happy about).
The most significant truths that bring hope and happiness are these: Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world; He is alive and well; His Gospel Fullness has been restored to the earth; the Great Plan of Salvation has been revealed …again; we can trust and have faith in Him and what He has taught us; and, in the “not too distant future,” He will return again and be among us! If we keep His commandments, honor our sacred covenants, and remain on the “Covenant Path,” we will be redeemed and will stand confidently in His presence on the judgment day. (Luke 12:40; D&C 29:11; D&C 34:7; D&C 35:15; D&C 45:44; 49:23; D&C 51:20; D&C 61:38; D&C 65:5-6; D&C 88:92-98; D&C 133:49; 1 Nephi 13:42).
Another significant truth in this life is this: we will experience at least some despair, often caused by a misunderstanding, a lack of knowledge (ignorance), and the absence of hope. Interestingly, in the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Lehi’s dream/vision of the Tree of Life provides an insight into how we can deal with despair …so we do not have to always “endure” in ignorance. In Lehi’s dream (1 Nephi 8:5-8), he saw and rightfully obeyed “a man …dressed in a white robe.” As he followed the man, he found himself initially in a “dark and dreary waste” or wilderness. Additionally, the scripture records he “…traveled for the space of many hours in darkness.” So we read, Lehi obeyed and followed the man faithfully, yet he was “…in a dark and dreary” wasteland, not knowing where he was. Lehi was “enduring in despair.” At that point, the writer (Nephi) records that Lehi prayed unto the Lord for mercy. Not until then did Lehi behold the grand vision of the Tree of Life, one of the most glorious and enlightening analogies in the scriptures.
Perhaps, as in Lehi’s dream, many of us trudge along through life, following the leader, striving to keep the commandments of God, distracted by the darkness, but “enduring” to the end. However, light, happiness, and real joy in the Gospel come when we sincerely, faithfully, and regularly pray to the Father. Yes, we must continue to strive to follow the Lord and keep His commandments. However, we must also faithfully, regularly, diligently and with gratitude, pray to the Father for mercy and “further light and knowledge.” That way, we will “endure in righteousness.” We will gain knowledge; we will be filled with “…exceedingly great joy;” we will have greater happiness; and, we will have Hope!
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