It occurs to me that many obedient souls are rightfully and faithfully following our Lord Jesus Christ …as best they can. They abide by and follow the principles of His Gospel and His Doctrine as best they understand them. They strive to keep the commandments, attend worship services, obey the Word of Wisdom, pay an honest tithe, read the Holy Scriptures, love and teach their children, live morally clean lives, show kindness to others, and generally keep themselves unspotted from the world. What they do is commendable, and I am 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 it well” to the end. By faithfully pressing forward in righteousness, we will do “well” and find hope, joy, and happiness now …and in the World to come!
This message was taught well by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he sat in a dark and dank dungeon amidst filth and sickness for many months. Said He: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” (D&C 121:7-8)
And, in his final message to his people, the great Prophet Nephi spoke these words of encouragement about pressing forward and enduring well to the end: “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.”
(Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 31:20)
But, what about 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 very difficult conditions.” But perhaps, as in the example above, it would be helpful to think in terms of “pressing forward in righteousness to the end,” or “continuing in righteousness to the end!” I believe we should be faithfully and diligently pressing forward (enduring well) in righteousness (loving God, obeying His laws and commandments, and loving our neighbors) to the end.
If we: 1) Learn of Jesus Christ, 2) have Faith in Him, 3) follow His Doctrine, and 4) press forward (endure) in righteousness; then, we will find much hope and happiness in this life …much to have hope in, much to have hope for, and much to be happy about.
COMMENT: The Holy Scripture are filled with many logical “if… then… statements.” The format typically reads something like: If this, …then that! For example, you might read a reference that says: “if it so be that you…, then shall you…!” (Please see 2 Nephi 31:13, Mosiah 4:12, 3 Nephi 26:9, 3 Nephi 27:10, and Mormon 7:10.) This format or pattern of instruction is often used in the scriptures, and occasionally in reference to the concept of “enduring.”
The most significant truths that bring hope and happiness are these: God our Eternal Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ love us; they are both alive and well; Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world; 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, and “enduring in despair.” 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 well and in righteousness.” We will gain knowledge; we will be filled with “…exceedingly great joy;” we will have greater happiness; and, we will have Hope in the Future!
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