One of the purposes of mortal life is to prove to God that we will keep His commandments when that takes courage. We passed that test in the spirit world. But a third of the hosts of heaven rebelled against the proposal that they be tested in a mortal existence where there was a risk that they would fail.
Before we were born, we knew God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, personally. We could see Them and listen to Them as They taught and encouraged us. Now a veil has been placed over our minds and memories. Satan, the father of lies, has an advantage because we must see the reality of who we are through the eyes of faith, while our bodies make us subject to carnal temptation and to physical weakness.
We have great helps to give us courage in this life. The greatest is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because of what He did, sins can be washed away in the waters of baptism. We can renew that blessing when we partake of the sacrament in faith and with a repentant heart.
Spiritual gifts are another help. We receive the Spirit of Christ at birth. That gives us the power to know when a choice before us would lead toward eternal life. The scriptures are a sure guide when we read them with the Holy Ghost as our companion.
The Holy Ghost lets us express thanks and ask for help in prayer with the clarity and confidence we once enjoyed with our Heavenly Father and which we will have when we return to Him. That communication with God helps banish fear from our hearts as it builds faith and love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
The holy priesthood gives us courage in our service. In its ordinances we receive power to serve God’s children and to withstand the influence of evil. When He calls us to serve, we have this promise: “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88).
The Prophet Joseph Smith in his service had reason to be fearful. But God gave him courage with this assurance of the example of the Master:
“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?” (D&C 122:7–8).
God has given us more than enough help to banish fear and give us courage, whatever we may face in life. As we reach out for His help, He can lift us toward that eternal life we seek.