Sunday, September 24, 2017

President Henry B. Eyring on understanding the true test of life

President Henry B. Eyring (born May 31, 1933) served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1985-1992, as a Seventy from 1992-1995, then was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He has served in the First Presidency since 2007.
"The restored gospel not only teaches us why we must be tested, but it makes clear to us what the test is. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave us an explanation. By revelation, he was able to record words spoken at the Creation of the world. They are about us, those of the spirit children of our Heavenly Father who would come into mortality. Here are the words:
"'And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them' (Abr. 3:25).
"That explanation helps us understand why we face trials in life. They give us the opportunity to prove ourselves faithful to God. So many things beat upon us in a lifetime that simply enduring may seem almost beyond us. That’s what the words in the scripture 'Ye must... endure to the end' (2 Ne. 31:20) seemed to mean to me when I first read them. It sounded grim, like sitting still and holding on to the arms of the chair while someone pulled out my tooth.
"It can surely seem that way to a family depending on crops when there is no rain. They may wonder, 'How long can we hold on?' It can seem that way to a youth faced with resisting the rising flood of filth and temptation. It can seem that way to a young man struggling to get the training he needs for a job to support a wife and family. It can seem that way to a person who can’t find a job or who has lost job after job as businesses close their doors. It can seem that way to a person faced with the erosion of health and physical strength which may come early or late in life for them or for those they love.
"But the test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us. And to endure well is to keep those commandments whatever the opposition, whatever the temptation, and whatever the tumult around us. We have that clear understanding because the restored gospel makes the plan of happiness so plain."
- Henry B. Eyring, "In the Strength of the Lord," General Conference, April 2004
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

We must be tested in life. That, according to President Eyring, is a fundamental premise of the gospel. But we sometimes forget what the test comprises; it was laid out by our Heavenly Father at the very creation of the world. We must be "proved" by the conditions and experiences of mortality, to verify whether we are willing to do whatever God tells us to do. That is the whole test—our willingness to obey. The hardships or challenges we suffer only modify the conditions of the test, not its purpose.

If everything in our mortal experience were straightforward and peaceful, with no difficulties or problems, it would perhaps be easier to show obedience. It seems harder to demonstrate our true commitment when we are deep in the midst of "enduring." But through our varied challenges, which seem perhaps customized according to what we individually need, we have the opportunity to pass the ultimate test again and again: will I obey in faith, regardless of circumstances or challenges?

The phrase "endure it well" was notably spoken to Joseph Smith (D&C 121:8) who was struggling through his own set of challenges; he was invited by God to continue faithful in the midst of the test. We are each asked to do the same in our personal difficulties.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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