Simply viewing them as normal, or even heaven-sent does not usually make them easier to manage. But there are things we can do to endure our trials well, and even become stronger as a result. Mormon taught about the principle of charity. It is the pure love of Christ and one of the Savior’s defining characteristics. Righteous behavior definitely does not exempt us from difficulties and challenges.
In fact, Mormon taught that as we develop charity, we truly become like the Savior (Moroni 7:48). At first I used to believe that a life free of trials was the most desirable of all. I figured that if I were just righteous enough, I would be spared the difficulties and challenges experienced by others. As my understanding of the Father’s plan has increased, I’ve realized I’m wrong on both counts.
Hopeth All Things
Hope is an interesting concept. I believe Mormon’s counsel to bear, believe, hope, and endure is a stepwise process. Each quality builds upon the other and is a strengthening step to reach the next level. Once we have accepted our trials and recommitted to our belief that God will sustain us, then comes hope. Hope is similar to belief, but with an added measure of personal investment. The Savior is described as the “hope of his people” (Joel 3:16). Prior to His coming, people believed in His pending advent. But to hope for His coming was more than just a knowledge of and agreement with the prophecies. Hoping for the Savior to come, to redeem them, was not just belief but also longing, anticipation, and joyful expectation of His mission.
Adding hope to belief creates a stronger foundation to deal with difficulties. Moroni taught, “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4; emphasis added). Hope makes an anchor. Anchors keep us grounded and steadfast, despite the swirling storms. During trials, we hope for better times. We look forward with an eye of faith, our hearts filled with hope, and trust the Lord will sustain us through the wintry days. Hope is a powerful tool to better cope with challenges.
Endureth All Things
Armed with willingness, faith, and hope, now comes the final weapon in our arsenal to overcome challenges: endurance. Endurance is the long road. It is striving, every day, to become better. It’s facing the wind and pressing forward, especially when we want to give up. How far you move forward each day is inconsequential. You are not being judged against others, and the Lord simply wants you to make small progress as frequently as you can.
The Lord counseled the early Saints, “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). In other words, don’t give up. Keep moving forward. Recognize that each small step will eventually lead to the completion of a tremendous journey. Satan would have us believe that small efforts are worthless because they produce such little change in and of themselves. That’s like believing that providing sunlight and water every day to a planted seed is pointless. After all, you cared for the seed yesterday and didn’t see any changes. In fact, you’ll probably go weeks with consistent care before that seed will sprout. Yet with the regular nurture of that small seed, you could end up with a beautiful plant that is resilient and strong.
Your spiritual and emotional progress is no different. Do what is right. Nurture your mind and spirit with truth. Just like growing a plant, in time, you will find yourself becoming stronger and better able to manage difficulties. Alma teaches that those who care for the seeds of truth are ultimately able to partake of the glorious fruit that perpetually satisfies spiritual hunger and thirst. “Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you” (Alma 32:43). As we increase our ability to bear with difficulty, increase faith, hold to hope, and endure to the end, we will also reap the reward of faith and taste the ever-satisfying fruit of spiritual growth.