How do we endure to the end?
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“How do we endure to the end?” Ensign, July 1986, 30–31

How do we endure to the end? The idea seems to imply putting up with a bad situation (life) until death brings release. What do the prophets really mean when they refer to enduring to the end?

Gordon M. Thomas, regional welfare agent, Cottonwood Creek Utah Region. Nephi gives us a good description of what enduring to the end involves. He wrote that “unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.” (2 Ne. 31:16; italics added.) Enduring, in this sense, means remaining faithful to the commandments and to the covenants we make with God to live a Christlike life. And living such a life, as Nephi taught (1 Ne. 8:10–12, 1 Ne. 11:21–23; 2 Ne. 2:25), brings joy, not sorrow. “Behold,” wrote the Apostle James, “we count them happy which endure.” (James 5:11.)

In this vein, President Joseph Fielding Smith suggested that enduring to the end involves the acquisition of those attributes that bring happiness. “We must endure to the end,” he said; … “We must so live as to acquire the attributes of godliness and become the kind of people who can enjoy the glory and wonders of the celestial kingdom.” (Ensign, Nov. 1971, p. 5.)

While some may see enduring to the end as Suffering through the challenges of daily life until death introduces them to a better world, Latter-day Saints are given a different perspective. Brigham Young said, “Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954, p. 345.) Such a perspective, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell points out, enables us, even in the most pressing of circumstances, to pass “the breaking point without breaking, having cause to be bitter—as men measure cause—without being bitter.” (A Time to Choose, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, p. 42.)

Challenges are a normal part of life—not the exception or a punishment. Joy comes as we learn to conquer these obstacles, not simply dutifully put up with them.

It has been said by some that heaven is just a change of address. This may be partially correct in respect to our feelings. We will not leave this life and find we have made dramatic changes in our attitudes and desires. If we have endured well, we will be in the habit of being righteous and happy, and we will have earned the right to be with others who have also learned this lesson. Enduring well makes us worthy and ready for a joyful, celestial life.

When we endure to the end in righteousness, no blessing will be withheld from us. There are those who feel that all will be better in the celestial kingdom if they can just endure—or get by—in this life. Yet those who just “get by” may not be found there. (See D&C 76:71, 79.) We must pattern our lives after the life of the Savior.

Our enduring, therefore, must be active, not passive. Many of us go through life expecting others to make us feel happy. Yet the power for achieving happiness is not in others; it is in ourselves. And we get that power through the help of God. Others may help us and serve us, but if we are waiting for some person or some future event to bring us happiness, we may never find it. We can accept conditions as they exist or accept the responsibility to change either the situation or our attitude about it.

One thing that can help is staying close to the Spirit through prayer. We should pray to endure, to live by the Spirit, to accept the will of the Lord in our lives. I believe the real miracle will come when we can totally submit to his will. Then God is free to grant us those things that will benefit us the most.

When I was serving as a bishop, a good sister in my ward was critically injured when her car was struck by a train. There were many anxious days and weeks in the hospital. Blessings were given as each crisis arose. One evening her husband said it was time to accept the Lord’s will. That seemed to be the turning point in her recovery. A sister who was as close to death as she could be is now living a normal life.

Another thing we can do to endure is not to dwell on the misfortunes of the past. Looking forward with new resolve is more effective than continually looking back. If you have made a poor decision that requires action in the future, then face up to it and correct it. Of course, if the past requires repentance, that certainly must be done also.

At times in some lives there may arise a situation that seems “impossible,” such as being married to someone you can’t get along with. Is our only choice, then, to “endure” in quiet desperation? A situation this serious generally takes a long time to develop. It may also take a long time and a great deal of effort to resolve. It may require the help of a bishop or a trusted counselor.

I have a general attitude in life that helps me remain happy in rough times. I have found that I tend to avoid those activities I don’t enjoy doing. Now, I have duties in my life which may not be pleasant. My plan then is not to avoid the activity, but to change my attitude about it. I also know that a bad time will not last forever. I know I will be happy next month. And if I’ll be happy next month, why not next week? or tomorrow? Why not today? I find that with this approach I can appreciate just about every day.

Nephi, addressing the members of the Church in his day, shows us the key to enduring righteously:

“And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

“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 Ne. 31:19–20.)

Thus, for members of the Church, enduring to the end includes several steps:

—Pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ

—Having a perfect brightness of hope

—Having a love of God

—Having a love of all men

—Feasting upon the word of Christ

—Relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save

The promise is that when we do these things, we will endure well and inherit eternal life.