Perhaps one could say that the title,"The Joy of Enduring" is an oxymoron. How can endurance be a joyful experience. To me the word endurence means hard work. There is both physical and spiritual endurance. Equally alike in many ways and sometimes you have both at one time.
I remember in my early 30's of a time when I took upon myself a goal of physical endurance. I started to run. I made a goal of how far, fast and how long I would run. I basically started this endeavor as a stress relief from caring for the needs of my six children. The moments of running helped me immensely. It was time to be in tune with myself for a while. I had to endure many hours of running before I reached the goals I had set for myself. At first it was very difficult, but eventually I experienced what is called a runner's high. Running became a favorite part of my day. I found joy in the process. Through the years I have experienced many moments of both physical and spiritual endurance.
The reason for these thought were motivated by our recent Stake Conference weekend. One of my favorite speakers at Stake Conference talked about enduring to the end. We hear that statement often in talks and scriptures.
Life it's self teaches us what it means to endure. Life is our training ground for enduring to the end. So,how can enduring equate to the word, Joy?
Here's a few light thoughts on endurance and joy. I received the challenge of teaching a group of seminary students. At first I didn't know how I was going to accomplish this assignment. I found that it required lots of prayer and hours of study. I had to get up very early in the morning each day; which was difficult because I don't do mornings. I soon adjusted to this new role. During the first year, I taught in a garage that had a small room built in it with a big wood burning stove. The man that owned the property would start the fire in the wood burning stove around 5am so it would be ready by 6:30am. I had 12 students at that time and each day as I entered that room before the day began; I felt such peace and joy. There was a special spirit in that room each morning that I taught. I loved teaching those awesome young men and women. In the end I taught for 4 years and received great blessings and great joy in this opportunity.
I feel deep joy as I service in the Jordan River Temple as an ordinance worker. At first I had to memorize parts of the ordinance work which was not easy for me. I have always had a difficult time memorizing and this took me almost beyond my ability. Prayers were offered and blessings given. It took hard work and endurance to finally feel confident in what I was required to do. The spiritual blessings and feelings of joy have been many. I love getting up to go to the temple each Saturday morning. Those few hours have become my favorite spiritual highs.
Now raising children is a true test in endurance. Being a parent and learning to enjoy all of the precious moments that you have with your children is priceless. However, it is not an easy one. I read many books to discover how to a better parent. I soon found out that reading and doing were not easy. One had to endure the learning process and also learn much about the word patience. There were many moments of tears and frustration but that was part of my growth and I found in time the joy of being a parent. Of course now I get to sit back and just enjoy the journey of having grandchildren.
Enduring doesn't end after having children or grandchildren. I have had serious times when there have been enduring tests with two of my grandchildren. At the time it seemed like a double whammy. You are so anxious for your own children as they suffer and then even more apprehensive for your suffering grandchild. The joy came after the trial of my faith in both of these moments of endurance. Joy was found in the many spiritual experiences that I had during that time.
We will experience serious circumstances in our lives.There are a varity of these kinds of issues that will test us such as health struggles, death, accidents, various other afflictions that come unbidden. Perhaps you have felt deep pain, concern, uncertainty and lack of understanding as to why this was happening to you.These moments of forebearance sometimes go on for days, weeks, and months. You pray mightily, you fast, you seek blessings, you feel weak and helpless. Your heart hurts, your thoughts are painful and then you pray more diligently and still the answer doesn't come or the answer is not what you sought. However through faith in Christ there will come a time when the light of the morning comes. Perhaps as you are kneeling in prayer, there will come a peace, a healing, the enduring promise to your heart is felt, you feel lifted up and loved and joy reaches deep inside of you and you know that you have endured this trial well. Many times this kind of ordeal will teach you things that no other way can do so and you would never feel the joy if you had not endured the pain.
I love the Book of Mormon and this scripture helps me see how enduring brings joy.
In Alma 28: 8
8. And this is the account of Ammon and his brethren, their journeying in the land of Nephi, their sufferings in the land, their sorrow, and their afflictions and their incomprehensible joy, and the reception and safety of the brethren in the land of Jershon. An now may the Lord, the Redeemer of all men, bless their souls forever.
I also like the scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants section 58:2-6.
2. Verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
3. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
4. For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.
A couple of other thoughts on this subject by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
"There cannot be immunity from all afflictions. Whether the afflictions are self-induced, as most of them are, or whether they are of the divine-tutorial type, it matters not. Either way, the Lord can help us so that our afflictions, said Alma, can be "swallowed up in the joy of Christ." (Alma 31: 38). Thus afflictions are endured and are overcome by joy. The sour notes are lost amid a symphony of salvational sounds. Our afflictions may not be extinguished. Instead, they can be dwarfed and swallowed up in the joy of Christ. This is how we overcome most of the time, not the elimination of afflictions, but the placing of these in that larger context. (Talk given Dec. 2, 1984.)
"When we reach a point of consecration, our afflictions will be swallowed up in the joy of Christ. It does not mean we won't have afflictions, but they will be put in a perspective that permits us to deal with them. With our steady pursuit of joy and with each increasing measure of righteousness, we will experience one more drop of delight --one drop after another--until, the words of a prophet, "our hearts are brim with joy." At least, the soul's cup finally runs over!! ("Brim with Joy p. 13.)
Then one of my favorite scriptures in found in 2 Nephi 31:20
20. Wherefore you must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if you press forward feasting upon the words of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
Enduring brings us Eternal life which will be incomprehensible Joy!