One of the greatest blessings my family and I have enjoyed was opening the Argentina Salta Mission. My wife, Cristina, and I arrived on January 1, 1988, with our three children, who were then 13 years, 8 years, and 9 months old. At the time we were expecting our fourth child.
A few weeks after arriving, and before we had even settled fully into the city where we would spend the next few years, my wife began to hemorrhage. In the middle of the night, we had to hurry off in search of a hospital.
During that long night the words of the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith while he was in Liberty Jail came to my mind:
“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” (D&C 121:7–8).
Further, the Lord said, “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” (D&C 122:7).
I had read and pondered those verses many times, and I had used them to provide counsel and comfort to family members and Church members affected by adversity, but at that moment those words were for me. It was then that I came to clearly understand that the Lord’s promises about the briefness of adversity, the exaltation that would come, and the experience we would gain all hinge on a key phrase: “if thou endure it well.”
How can we endure well the suffering that can come from adversity? During the hours that my wife lay in the hospital, and at other times when adversity has knocked at our door, our family has learned three basic principles that help us endure and overcome. They are found in a revelation given to Joseph Smith: “All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith” (D&C 103:36).
Adversity can come to us even if we are diligently serving the Lord. We know, however, that He is “merciful and gracious unto those who fear [Him], and delight[s] to honor those who serve [Him] in righteousness and in truth unto the end” (D&C 76:5).
That night we put our trust in the Lord. We were in Argentina to do His will, and we would accept whatever He decided. We learned that trials are easier to endure when we diligently serve the Lord.
When we strive to keep the commandments, our faith serves as an anchor that gives us power to move forward and strength to battle adversity. When the doctor tending Cristina told me there was nothing he could do to stop her from hemorrhaging, I asked him if I could enter her room and give her a priesthood blessing. A few minutes after the blessing, the hemorrhaging stopped, and her condition began to improve.
The Lord gave us the following warning, which I understood better than ever at that moment: “Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you, and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you” (D&C 136:42).
When sore trials came upon you,
Did you think to pray?
When your soul was full of sorrow,
Balm of Gilead did you borrow
At the gates of day?1
Prayers of faith give us the strength necessary to get through our afflictions. I remember the powerful prayer of Alma that gave him and those with him “strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith” (Alma 31:38).
I am grateful that Sister Viñas made a complete recovery. The years that followed were ones of incredible joy for our family as we worked with faithful and loyal missionaries in sharing the gospel in Argentina. Similar to the missionary experiences of Ammon and his brothers (see Alma 28:8), our journeyings, sufferings, sorrows, and afflictions in the Argentina Salta Mission led us to incomprehensible joy.
We came to know that as we endure our trials and afflictions with diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith, we can learn to have joy through—and despite—our suffering.