This post is part of the General Conference Odessey. This week covers the Sunday afternoon session of the April 1998 conference.
I think it was when I was serving as a missionary that I began to notice lots of scriptures about enduring to the end. I marked and cross-referenced them believing they were important reminders that we have to remain obedient and active in our testimonies until the end of our lives. It also helped me get through some hard days as a missionary in the deep South with little success in finding the golden contacts.
Another season of enduring to the end was during five pregnancies, which can not be rushed or ended just because I'm tired of feeling bloated and cumbersome and weary in body and spirit. Each baby came when she or he was ready to come. I had to endure to the end!
In this particular session of conference Elder Robert D. Hales spoke about enduring to the end. "Our greatest example comes from the life of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. . . . The Savior of the World was left alone by His Father to experience, of His own free will and choice, an act of agency which allowed Him to complete His mission of the Atonement." Where would we be if He had given up, and not endured to the end? Our gratitude should be boundless for Jesus' faithfulness in completing His assigned mission.
Elder Hales also spoke of the pioneers. "They knew their purpose or goal--to not only find Zion but to establish it. Because they knew that, they were willing to endure all manner of hardships to bring it about." More gratitude here for the fortitude of those faithful and steadfast pioneers who didn't give up when the going got hard. Elder Hales counseled us saying, "We are taught in the scriptures that there must be opposition in all things (see 2 Ne. 2:11). It is not a question of if we are ready for the tests; it is a matter of when. We must prepare to be ready for tests that will present themselves without warning."
Another gem, "The Church is not built in one generation. The sound growth of the Church takes hold over three and four generations of faithful Saints. Passing the fortitude of faith to endure to the end from one generation to the next generation is a divine gift of unmeasured blessings to our progeny. Also, we cannot endure to the end alone. It is important that we help by lifting and strengthening one another."
Have you ever pondered what it actually means to "endure to the end"? Do we just grind through our days hoping that it gets better? Do we quit when things are tough, taking an easier route? Elder Hales gives some advice: "We learn to endure to the end by learning to finish our current responsibilities, and we simply continue doing it all of our lives. We cannot expect to learn endurance in our later years if we have developed the habit of quitting when things get difficult now. . . . Everyone has something they must learn to master. Some are just more obvious than others. . . . When we take an assignment, we have to think, 'I will learn how to accomplish this task by all honorable means, by doing it the Lord's way. I will study, ask questions, search and pray. I have the potential to keep learning. I am not finished until the assignment is completed.' This is enduring to the end: seeing things through to completion."
And finally, "There is nothing that we are enduring that Jesus does not understand, and He waits for us to go to our Heavenly Father in prayer."
I certainly thought life would get easier as I got older; I'd be wiser, more experienced, etc. Well, in some ways that's true, but in other ways I feel more foolish and inexperienced now than I did as a missionary. There truly is opposition in all things! And enduring to the end means staying faithful to covenants and obedient to commandments to the very end when we take our last breath.
Elder Hales says, "I testify that if we will be obedient and if we are diligent, our prayers will be answered, our problems will diminish, our fears will dissipate, light will come upon us, the darkness of despair will be dispersed, and we will be close to the Lord and feel of His love and of the comfort of the Holy Ghost." What a promise worth enduring for!