Wednesday, July 25, 2018

President Thomas S. Monson on finding God's help to endure life's trials

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley and then became Church president in 2008. He led the Church for almost a decade until his passing in January 2018.
"When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to ask the question 'Why me?' At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night's darkness. We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hopes. We join in uttering the biblical plea, 'Is there no balm in Gilead?' (Jeremiah 8:22.) We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We become impatient for a solution to our problems, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.
"The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure. A fundamental question remains to be answered by each of us: Shall I falter, or shall I finish? Some do falter as they find themselves unable to rise above their challenges. To finish involves enduring to the very end of life itself....
"From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with tears, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise: 'I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee' (Joshua 1:5). Such comfort is priceless....
"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.
"This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life."
- Thomas S. Monson, "I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee," General Conference October 2013
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This excerpt from President Monson is packed with information and reassurance. He identifies many of the difficulties we all encounter in life, at one point or another:

  • Lack of hope in dealing with challenges
  • Disappointment of shattered dreams, vanished hopes
  • Feeling alone and unsupported
  • Impatience for problems to be resolved
  • Ongoing pain or heartbreaking sorrow
As we confront the question, whether consciously or subconsciously, "Shall I falter, or shall I finish?" — it is a struggle to find the courage to endure, since sometimes that means "enduring to the very end of life itself." President Monson's ringing testimony echoes the words of Joshua in reassuring us that God will always support and sustain: "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

As we survive our trials, President Monson testifies there are benefits that will come:

  • We will be better people
  • We will grow in understanding and empathy
  • Our testimonies will be stronger
  • We will be "spiritually refined"
  • We will experience growth and "progress toward our goal of eternal life." 
In other words, there is purpose in the challenges and trials of life that will bless us if we allow them to, with God's help to sustain us. These are hopeful, faithful words of encouragement!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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