How long must I endure?
There is a phrase oft repeated in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: “Endure to the end”. It is an interesting phrase. It at once embodies an expectation that life will never be smooth sailing and that there is hope of a better life ahead.
When I was a child, I greatly enjoyed pestering people. It was a measure of success if I could get them to lose their cool. I was aware that I was taking pleasure from others’ misery, and that that sounded a lot like what Satan was doing, and so I determined to repent of this evil. For a time I had to endure the temptations that arose often, the openings for a good jab. And then, at some point I didn’t even notice, it ended. The desireI still do pester sometimes, but accidentally now. to pester was gone.
This example, and others like it, gave me the early impression that “the end” to which we endure is the end of the trial, a few years hence. But then I became aware of things that had to be endured without end. Alcoholics Anonymous famously supports this model of endurance—there are dry alcoholics but no cured alcoholics. We see it also in scripture, for example with the people of Ammon for whom fifteen years The timing here may be derived from Alma 24:16–25:2, 16:1–2, and 56:7–8. unarmed was not enough for them to chance lifting a blade. These led me to wonder if we ought not better say “endure forever” because there is no end.
As I started to tentatively voice my guess that there was no end I discovered many people believed there is an end to trials. Some thought it was with death, others with resurrection, others still at some moment of graduation at the end of the millennial reign of Christ; but there seemed a common belief that God waves his magic wand and we are no longer faced with anything to endure. This belief is wide-spread enough I hesitate to contradict it, but I do have to wonder, if there is such a wand, how He picks when to wave it.
My current guess is that we endure until the act of endurance no longer feels like endurance. The dieter endures not eating when peckish until a little esurience no longer causes them to want to eat. The behavior never changes: there is no end to them ignoring a little hunger. But the endurance does end as the heart and desires change. And that change of heart never comes while you are waiting for it. Indeed, to ask “when will my heart change” implies it has not changed.
I don’t know if I have it right yet. Fortunately, I do know the practical element of enduring to the end. You endure as if there was no end, while having faith a life beyond endurance will come. It’s just the mechanics of how that works that aren’t yet clear.