Mar 23, 2014

The Strength to Endure

The Strength to Endure
by Elder Richard J. Maynes

"Every morning when we wake up, we face a new day filled with the challenges of life.  These challenges come in many forms:  
physical challenges
financial setbacks
difficulties with relationships
emotional trials
and even struggles with one's faith.
Many of these challenges we face in life can be solved and overcome; however, others may be difficult to understand and impossible to overcome and will be with us until we pass on to the next life.  As we temporarily endure the challenges we can solve and as we continue to endure the challenges we cannot solve, it is important to remember that the spiritual strength we develop will help us successfully endure all the challenges we face in life."

We all carry the burdens of life. So. . . .
How do we endure?
What does it take to build up enough strength to keep going?

Elder Maynes says, "Our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and the depth of our conversion.  When our testimonies are strong and we are truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, our choices will be inspired by the Holy Ghost, they will be Christ-centered, and they will support our desire to endure in righteousness.  If our testimonies are weak and our conversion superficial, the risk is much greater that we will be enticed by the false traditions of the world to make poor choices."  and might I add - GIVE UP!
We can develop the strength to endure!

"A testimony like your body, needs to be in shape if you want it to endure.  So how do we keep our testimonies in shape?"

Elder Maynes tells the story of how he had to become physically fit enough to pass a difficult timed running course in order to play on his college basketball team.  At the end of recalling his story, he states,
"To play basketball successfully, you need to get into good shape.  Being in good physical condition comes at a price, and that price is dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline.  Spiritual endurance also comes at a price.  It is the same price: dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline."

"Because we face challenges every day, it is important that we work on our spiritual stamina every day."
Just like in basketball (or any sport), if you want to be good, you have to train and practice everyday. You have to keep to the practice schedule.  If you start missing practices or training sessions, you won't stay in the same shape.  You'll digress.  

It is the same with us spiritually.  If we want to have a strong testimony we need to train our spirits by practicing daily habits of scripture reading and prayer, weekly Family Home Evenings, temple attendance, and regular church attendance.  "We have a loving Heavenly Father who has designed our earthly existence so that we can individually learn the lessons we need to learn to qualify for eternal life in His presence."  We get stronger "line upon line".  Little by little, our Father helps us strengthen our testimonies.  "When we develop spiritual stamina, the false traditions of the world, as well as our personal daily challenges, will have little negative impact on our ability to endure in righteousness."  If we don't work at it consistently, we will digress, and our testimony won't stay in shape, leaving us weak with a much greater risk at being "enticed by the false traditions of the world to make poor choices"

In his talk Elder Maynes quotes the Apostle Paul, who stated, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

"The race that is set before us on this earth is an endurance race filled with obstacles.  The obstacles in this race are the challenges we wake up to each morning.  We are here on earth to run the race, to exercise our moral agency, and to choose between right and wrong. . .We need strong testimonies that will lead to true conversion, and as a result we will find within ourselves the inner peace and strength to endure (PERSEVERE) whatever challenges we may face.
Do it, even if you don't feel like doing it!
Many years ago I set a goal to run a 5K.  I wasn't a runner.  I couldn't even run a block without stopping.  As I trained for this race, and as the excitement of my new goal wore off, I had to motivate myself to run and then I had to do it even though I didn't feel like it!  After a short time of persevering these runs I dreaded, running became easier.  I could run farther.  I didn't get tired as quickly.  Pushing myself to do it, even though most days I didn't feel like it, made me stronger, and the challenge easier.

Sometimes we have days where we just want to throw the towel in.  We are tired and we just don't feel like dealing with Life's challenges any more.  Do it anyway!
"In order to honorably and successfully finish the race and return to our Heavenly Father, we will need to pay the price. . ."  It was never guaranteed to be easy, only worth it!  As we persevere and continue to train, we get stronger, and the challenge gets easier.

self-discipline =  the ability to the ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

Train at your own pace.  Each athlete has their own routine that works best for them.  "It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." (Mosiah 4:27)  Learn to strengthen yourself and over come your weaknesses with what works for you!  DO NOT get discouraged if you don't win every race, or you lose a game or two.  It's okay.

"Heavenly Father has organized our journey through life to be a test of our character.  We are exposed to both good and evil influences and then given the moral agency to choose for ourselves which path we will take.  Heavenly Father also understood that due to our mortality we would not always make the correct or righteous choice.  Because we are not perfect and because we make mistakes, we need help in returning to His presence. . .The Savior's atoning sacrifice makes possible our future salvation and exaltation through the principle of repentance.  If we honestly and sincerely repent, the Atonement can help us become clean, change our nature, and successfully endure our challenges."

If at first you don't succeed, REPENT, and try again!
Remember, we have a loving, encouraging, dedicated Coach who is always there ready to help motivate us, pick us up when we fall, and cheer us across the finish line.  We just need to accept His help. 

Next Week's Talk:
by President Thomas S. Monson