Thomas Carlyle, a prominent 19th century Scottish philosopher, once said, “Endurance is patience concentrated.” What did he mean by this? What he meant is that endurance and patience are inseparable, and that a strong, developed ability to be patient lends itself to true endurance. Brothers and sisters, today I have been asked to talk about patience and endurance. Many times, we will find ourselves in the midst of trials and tribulations, but how do we act when those trials and tribulations come? Do we think of them as burdens that we simply have to endure through? Or opportunities given to us to refine ourselves in order to more perfectly fit the mold God has set for us?
In Doctrine and Covenants 122: 7-8, the Lord answered this question to Joseph Smith. At this point, Joseph had been in Liberty Jail for several months, and I’m sure was wondering how much longer he would have to suffer through this. The Lord responded by saying, “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” That is a very poignant answer. I can only imagine how much Joseph’s attitude changed after this humbling experience.
As the Lord said, “all these things shall be for our experience, and shall be for thy good.” But how can we keep that attitude even when things are rough? In his 2012 General Conference talk, “Mountains to Climb” President Eyring answered this very question, “You and I have faith that the way to rise through and above trials is to believe that there is a “balm in Gilead” and that the Lord has promised, “I will not … forsake thee.” That is what President Thomas S. Monson has taught us to help us and those we serve in what seem lonely and overwhelming trials.
But President Monson has also wisely taught that a foundation of faith in the reality of those promises takes time to build. You may have seen the need for that foundation, as I have, at the bedside of someone ready to give up the fight to endure to the end. If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure will crumble.” If we do not have a strong foundation of faith, our ability to maintain an eternal perspective in the face of tribulation greatly diminishes. So how do we develop this foundation of faith? President Eyring continues, “As a young man I worked with a contractor building footings and foundations for new houses. In the summer heat it was hard work to prepare the ground for the form into which we poured the cement for the footing. There were no machines. We used a pick and a shovel. Building lasting foundations for buildings was hard work in those days.
It also required patience. After we poured the footing, we waited for it to cure. Much as we wanted to keep the jobs moving, we also waited after the pour of the foundation before we took away the forms.
And even more impressive to a novice builder was what seemed to be a tedious and time-consuming process to put metal bars carefully inside the forms to give the finished foundation strength.
In a similar way, the ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into every life. That solid basis for a foundation of faith is personal integrity.
Our choosing the right consistently whenever the choice is placed before us creates the solid ground under our faith. It can begin in childhood since every soul is born with the free gift of the Spirit of Christ. With that Spirit we can know when we have done what is right before God and when we have done wrong in His sight.
Those choices, hundreds in most days, prepare the solid ground on which our edifice of faith is built. The metal framework around which the substance of our faith is poured is the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its covenants, ordinances, and principles.” In order to more fully build a foundation, we need to be patient with ourselves and our faith. Many times, we may stumble and fall. When we hiked the Narrows over this past week at High Adventure, there were a lot of times I felt like giving up. The water was cloudy so I didn’t know where to step and make sure I didn’t slip and fall. It took a lot of patience for me to be able to endure through that hike. Each step was a leap of faith, with me not knowing what the result would be. We develop our faith day by day, step by step, by acting on the promptings of the Holy Spirit, serving others in need, and simply praying and reading our scriptures. When those trials come, I have confidence that we will find our faith is sufficient to help us be patient with ourselves and endure through the trials.