Are You Surviving or Enduring? Here's What Makes All the Difference


We hear the phrase “endure to the end” often in the scriptures and in gospel messages. But what does it truly mean to endure, and what does it look like in our individual lives?

Enduring is a fundamental part of our covenant obligations. It can also be a joyful way of living as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and prepare ourselves for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we continue in our spiritual progression, we enter into more covenants with God in the temple and potentially with a partner for eternity.

And yet enduring sounds a bit grim, doesn’t it? Perhaps for some, it evokes images of the handcart pioneers with their heads bent down into the wind, toiling through hunger and trudging on day after day with no end in sight.

But what if the Lord is asking something different of us? Let’s examine the word “endure” to see if our expectations line up with His plan for our lives.

Active Growth, Not Passive Suffering

Originating from the Latin indūrāre and Old French endurer, the term “endure” means “to harden, to make lasting.”

This definition clarifies that enduring isn’t passive or reactive—it actually expresses a sense of growth. It is hopeful. We’re not just getting through the rest of our lives, instead we are agents unto ourselves coming to know good and evil through our own experience.

What does this look like in our lives? Elder Richard G. Scott observes:

"When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. . . . Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?"

Elder Scott describes moving from a victim mentality to taking an active role while enduring trials. We come to mortality to learn. We will experience good and evil, both from the world around us and within ourselves. That is a given. But are we learning from those experiences? Do we come to a profound understanding of the nature of God and His plan for us? That is our great opportunity while on this earth, and if we are curious about our experiences, our learning can be accelerated.

Benefit from Trials

Many of us are experiencing difficult trials as a result of COVID-19 as well as tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural events outside of our control. However, with those trials come the opportunities described by President Joseph F. Smith:

"We believe that these severe, natural calamities are visited upon men by the Lord for the good of his children, to quicken their devotion to others, and to bring out their better natures, that they may love and serve him. We believe, further, that they are the heralds and tokens of his final judgment, and the schoolmasters to teach the people to prepare themselves by righteous living for the coming of the Savior to reign upon the earth" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 393).

During times like these, President Smith invites us to anticipate the Second Coming of Christ. Rather than simply surviving and focusing on ourselves, we can measure our growth by caring for and helping others.

As we ask God how we can better learn His will and serve His children, we are enduring well—not just suffering, but growing stronger in Godlike attributes.

Expectation Based on Experience

Hope is an essential characteristic of enduring well. While faith encourages us to look to the Savior and trust in Him, hope gives us expectation of good things to come, an exchange of beauty for ashes. Larry Hiller states:

"In my own life, when I patiently endure trials, the Savior, who took upon Himself all of our ills and sorrows (see Alma 7:11–12), ministers to me through the Spirit. I experience the Savior’s tender mercies. My trials may continue, but having taken upon me the yoke of Christ, I find Him sharing my yoke, making my burdens bearable, and giving me hope. I then have strength to endure. . . . Hope is anything but wishful. It is expectation based on experience. "I see Hope more clearly now. She is serene. Her eyes have the deep, knowing look of someone well acquainted with sorrow, the luminosity of recently being wet with tears. Hope has the confidence of one who clearly sees a bright future even when the next hours seem fog shrouded. Hope is steady and strong, a friend I am glad to have beside me during my own trials."

As our experience increases, our expectations become refined. We replace a transactional faith, with its expectation of reward for good behavior, with a rock-solid trust in God regardless of outcomes. Even if we don’t see His purpose for us in our current circumstances, we can move forward with hope and faith in our future.

► You may also like: Watch This Inspiring Message by Elder Holland about Why We Should Hope

Tools for Hope

How can we increase our hope? I use two tools that have helped me during times of trial—a gratitude list and a fear list.

Most of us are familiar with gratitude lists. Recognizing what we are grateful for shifts our focus from feelings of scarcity to feelings of abundance. We also begin to see more clearly how often the Lord works in our lives to bless us.

Here are three steps that help when creating a fear list.

  1. Identify your fears: Write a list which includes all your current fears, big and small. This is hard. Sometimes, it feels like writing down our fears might make them more real or likely to occur. We might believe that if we avert our eyes, our fears will go away. But the opposite is true. When we write down and name our fears, it gives us greater power.
  2. Face and own our fears: When we name our fears, we shine a light on them, helping us to see them in the context of our faith. We may realize we are powerless in a situation—but that doesn’t mean we are helpless. Writing down fears by name begins the process of owning and responding to them in a healthy way. Some might already do this with their children, helping them name the emotion they are feeling. When we do the same and own our fears, we begin to have power over them.
  3. Prayerfully surrender our fears to our Savior: This is where there is real relief and comfort. Beside each fear on your list, try writing “Even if this happens, my Savior will always sustain me.” If your fear is for a family member, consider adding “and work in my loved one’s life for good.” There is a fundamental shift here, from our panic that we can’t control everything to trusting our future to a loving God. We exercise our agency by surrendering our fears to God, because He cannot take from us what we are unwilling to give.

Both a gratitude list and a fear list have increased my trust in God. I have gained the power to let go of my own will and surrender to God’s will. It has helped me increase in hope, enabling me to turn to God with a teachable heart during trials.
I am no longer afraid of enduring to the end. It’s not something to be feared, but to be anticipated, as I grow in godly attributes, become stronger, and fill the measure of my mortal experience. I am an agent who acts, not a passive player to be acted upon, and that means every experience can be consecrated to my good as I learn to lean on the ample arm of the Lord.

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