Enduring to the End

I get a lot of people passing through here looking for stories on enduring to the end. I assume these searches are for lessons and talks. Because I aim to serve, allow me to share two of my favorite examples of this principle, and the talks associated with them.

The first example is from the life of Jesus Christ. I direct you to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk The Inconvenient Messiah. Elder Holland expands upon what Jesus went through when He was tempted by Satan, as recorded in Matthew 4: 1-11.

Elder Holland explains Satan's treachery in each of the temptations that he gives to Christ, and how we must be sure to avoid that same treachery in our lives. Elder Holland explains what Jesus does to overcome His encounter with Satan, and what we MUST do to follow Christ's example to overcome our showdowns with Satan throughout our lives.

"I wish to speak this morning of the demands of discipline and discipleship, of the responsibilities we have to face when we choose to follow Jesus Christ. In the Savior's life and in ours, Satan counters such discipline with temptations of an easier way, with an offer of 'convenient Christianity.' It is a temptation Jesus resisted, and so must we. Life was very inconvenient for him, and, unless I miss my guess, it will often be so for you and for me when we take upon us his name."

Enduring to the end, keeping the faith, is a part of our baptismal covenant. We give up the ability to ever stand on neutral ground regarding Christ when we are baptized. Because of this, we will be fighting and opposing Satan for the rest of our mortal lives--if not longer. Sometimes our fight will be more active and tiring than at other times, but even in times of peace we must oppose that which is evil. That is what enduring to the end means. I love this talk because it expresses that reality in no uncertain terms.

This second story comes from President Thomas S. Monson's talk Be of Good Cheer. In his talk, President Monson speaks of a woman who loses her husband in World War II. In order to evacuate to safety, this woman must then trek from East Prussia to Western Germany alone with her 4 children.

One by one, she loses each of her children to the unforgiving winter, and for the first three children she digs their graves with a spoon. She loses her baby daughter last, and digs that grave in the frozen ground with her bare hands. President Monson retells this woman's prayer and describes how it saved her life:

"'Dear Heavenly Father, I do not know how I can go on. I have nothing left—except my faith in Thee. I feel, Father, amidst the desolation of my soul, an overwhelming gratitude for the atoning sacrifice of Thy Son, Jesus Christ. I cannot express adequately my love for Him. I know that because He suffered and died, I shall live again with my family; that because He broke the chains of death, I shall see my children again and will have the joy of raising them. Though I do not at this moment wish to live, I will do so, that we may be reunited as a family and return—together—to Thee.'
When she finally reached her destination of Karlsruhe, Germany, she was emaciated. Brother Babbel said that her face was a purple-gray, her eyes red and swollen, her joints protruding. She was literally in the advanced stages of starvation. In a Church meeting shortly thereafter, she bore a glorious testimony, stating that of all the ailing people in her saddened land, she was one of the happiest because she knew that God lived, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He died and was resurrected so that we might live again. She testified that she knew if she continued faithful and true to the end, she would be reunited with those she had lost and would be saved in the celestial kingdom of God." --President Monson

This woman understood the power of her testimony of Jesus Christ and her prayers to Him, and that's how she endured to the end of her struggle. She knew that her personal suffering had no bearing on the reality of Christ's atonement and resurrection, and the truth and power of His gospel. She knew and trusted that her covenants within His gospel would save her, whether she lived or died. That is a choice lesson, which only comes personally through suffering. It cannot be given in an easier, more convenient way.

That is the testimony of my life. My life has not been the most difficult in all of human history, nor has it been the easiest. But I trust God to help me through everything that I face. I trust His gospel and His servants to help me and teach me. I trust the insight and wisdom they've gained over a lifetime of service and preparation for and from their callings. I rejoice to be able to recognize the truth in what they teach. I share their words in every way I can because I know they are true, and I've gained that witness from the Holy Ghost.

I know the Holy Ghost speaks the words of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, and that there is NO other name in heaven or on earth by which mankind can be saved from sin and death. I bear that witness joyfully in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

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