Enduring to the end

“He is not here: for he is risen.” Elder Russell M. Nelson described this declaration, found in Matthew 28:6, as “one of the most significant of all scriptural phrases” (“Because He Lives,” Ensign, March 2015, p. 75).

“During that first Easter season two millennia ago, the Lord suffered unspeakable agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross as He took upon Himself the sins and pains of all humankind. Betrayed by one He had called friend, He was arrested, scourged, mocked, and crucified,” continued Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Describing Jesus Christ’s Resurrection, the scripture in Matthew details an event celebrated in the Christian world on Easter Sunday. Resurrection, the culmination of Christ’s endurance to the end, not only gives us hope in this mortal world, it offers a foundation of faith for our eternal journey.

Physical death, the separation of our spirit from our mortal body, is something we all will suffer.

After His death on the cross at Calvary, Jesus’ body and spirit were separated. On the third day, His spirit and His body were reunited eternally, “never to be separated again. Because of [His] Resurrection, ... we will all be resurrected regardless of whether we have done good or evil in this life. We will have a perfect, immortal body of flesh and bones that will never again be subject to disease, pain or death” (Preach My Gospel, 2004, p. 51).

On our journey toward eternal life with our Heavenly Father, each of us also encounters a second obstacle, the need to be cleansed of sin. “Only through the Savior’s grace and mercy can we become clean from sin so that we can live with God again. This is possible through exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end” (emphasis added, Preach My Gospel, 2009, p. 51).

Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy taught newly called missionary training center presidents and visitors’ center directors, “It is not complicated … all who repent and are baptized in His name and remain faithful, receiving the blessings and gifts of the Holy Temple, may have a place in the heavenly kingdom of God forever” (Church News, Jan. 18, 2005, p. 4).

In Alma 37:33 we are taught: “Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And in verse 37, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”

One critical element in our eternal progression is doing all we can do, accepting guidance from our Heavenly Father and enduring to the end and being “lifted up at the last day.” Enduring to the end is, for many, difficult.

An elderly sister, meeting with her bishop, explained that she was “ready to go. I have completed everything I need to do.” Her husband had died years earlier and she had been at his side as he served as a bishop and as a stake president and she, too, had served faithfully. “I have served in Primary, Young Women and Relief Society. I have been Relief Society president several times. I am old and I am tired and I am ready to move on. Why am I still here?” she asked the bishop.

As he pondered her state of mind and her seeming urgent desire to leave mortal life, he tried to discuss with her the need for each of us to overcome weaknesses and also find purpose in life as we endure, continuing to grow and progress. “But bishop, I have no bad habits, and I’ve done everything I’ve been asked. What do I still need to do?” she asked.

As the conversation continued, the inspiration came to the bishop that this wonderful, faithful sister needed to better understand the principle of enduring to the end. When mortal life ends, he considered, the timing of our journey’s end is not a decision we can make.

Later, in a call to the ward’s Relief Society president, the bishop explained that the ward had a new visiting teaching supervisor. Upon hearing the name of the nearly 80-year-old sister, the president was somewhat surprised and said, somewhat hesitantly, “That’s a person I had not considered,” and then added more confidently “and that will be a nice blessing to the sisters in the ward to have her wisdom and expertise.”

The ward’s visiting teachers received a needed boost and an aging, faithful sister began the last decade of her life, serving others, sharing wisdom and experience and enduring to the end. In the following 10 years, this sister called, encouraged, set a demanding pace and, most of all, set an energetic example.

In the hospital she made calls to check on the ward’s visiting teachers and passed along her final report, just days before her death. She was faithful and had endured to the end; she now understood and even reluctantly embraced the concept of endurance.

Attending her funeral when she died at age 89, many younger sisters expressed their love and appreciation for the blessings they received as they became more diligent in their visiting teaching efforts through this sister’s efforts. As we endure, heeding answers to daily prayer and listening to inspired leaders are two important steps in our mortal process.

Christ’s Resurrection opened the door for each of us to the certainty of living once again, and potentially eternally with our Heavenly Father. For many, the admonition of enduring to the end is one of our weaknesses. In the Lord’s Kingdom, we are never done. Our mortal time and our need to discover what remains to be done is determined by a loving Heavenly Father.

“Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life” (3 Nephi 15:9). “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved” (2 Nephi 31:15).

“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” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8).

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