When I was a young man, I served in the Church as a counselor to a wise district president. He was constantly trying to teach me. I remember the advice he once gave to me: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.” I thought then that he was pessimistic. Now, more than 50 years later, I can see how well he understood the world and life.
We all have trials to face—at times, very difficult trials. We know that the Lord allows us to go through trials in order for us to be polished and perfected so we can be with Him forever.
The Lord taught the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail that the reward for enduring his trials well would help qualify him for eternal life:
“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).
So many things beat upon us in a lifetime that it may seem hard to endure well. It can seem that way to a family depending on crops when there is no rain. They may wonder, “How long can we hold on?” It can seem that way to a youth faced with resisting the rising flood of filth and temptation. It can seem that way to a young man struggling to get the education or training he needs for a job to support a wife and family. It can seem that way to a person who can’t find a job or who has lost job after job as businesses close their doors. It can seem that way to those faced with the erosion of health and physical strength, which may come early or late in life for them or for those they love.
But a loving God has not set such tests before us simply to see if we can endure difficulty but rather to see if we can endure them well and so become polished.
The First Presidency taught Elder Parley P. Pratt (1807–57) when he was a newly called member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “You have enlisted in a cause that requires your whole attention; … become a polished shaft. … You must endure much toil, much labor, and many privations to become perfectly polished. … Your Heavenly Father requires it; the field is His; the work is His; and He will … cheer you … and buoy you up.”1
In the book of Hebrews, Paul speaks of the fruit of enduring well: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
Our trials and our difficulties give us the opportunity to learn and grow, and they may even change our very nature. If we can turn to the Savior in our extremity, our souls can be polished as we endure.
The second thing is to strive continuously to keep the commandments—whatever the opposition, the temptation, or the tumult around us (see Mosiah 4:30).
In the Master’s service, we come to know and love Him. We will, if we persevere in prayer and faithful service, begin to recognize the hand of the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost in our life. Many of us have for a period given such service and felt that companionship. If you think back on that time, you will remember that there were changes in you. The temptation to do evil seemed to lessen. The desire to do good increased. Those who knew you best and loved you may have said: “You have become kinder and more patient. You don’t seem to be the same person.”
You weren’t the same person. You were changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ because you relied on Him in the time of your trial.
I promise you that the Lord will come to your aid in your trials if you seek and serve Him and that your soul will be polished in the process. I challenge you to put your trust in Him in all your adversities.
I know that God the Father lives and that He hears and answers our every prayer. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, paid the price of all of our sins and that He wants us to come to Him. I know that the Father and the Son watch over us and have prepared a way for us to endure well and to come home again.