Continuing Faithfulness in Times of Struggle

There is a crucial truth that every member and non-member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must come to realize; one that is not on, but is embodied in, the following list:
  • The Bible does not save you from the darkness of this world.
  • The Book of Mormon does not save you from your sins.
  • No membership in any church ever established--no, not even our Church--can save you from Satan and his minions.
  • The prophets and teachers of this church cannot remove the temptations that so easily beset us all.
  • Eternal life does not come simply because we ask for it, or even demand it.
Where, then, can we turn for salvation? How do we obtain safety for our souls? How can we be cleansed from all our guilt? How can our burdens be lifted, and our hearts healed? How can we conquer the adversary and his minions when they bombard us with temptations to do things that would make us cringe in the presence of God?

How do we obtain eternal life?

Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, willingly atoned for all of our sins. He gave us scripture that we might remember Him, have His Spirit to be with us, and learn His commandments that we might know how to follow Him. The purpose of His Church is to provide His ordinances, and to receive His guidance through His chosen servants on how to return to Him again.

In every aspect of discipleship, Christ is at the center.

At times, it's easy to become complacent--to read our scriptures and make no contact with Christ whatsoever. It's easy to partake of ordinances like the Sacrament and make no connection to Christ. It's possible to be given council from His chosen prophets, apostles, teachers, leaders, and friends without ever seeing the image of Christ in their countenances, to focus on their faults instead of their message.

How can they lead me and save me when they're so imperfect? we might ask at such times.

The answer being: they were never supposed to save you. Perfection was never their purpose.

Jesus Christ is our Savior

He alone atoned for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane, was betrayed into the hands of the Sanhedrin, was scourged, and collapsed beneath the weight of the cross on which he would soon die.

A cross to bear... do we remember that story when we struggle? When we're tempted to look for an easier way in apostasy, or oblivion?
26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. (Luke 23)
Jesus spoke often of bearing his cross and following him. He spoke of it prophetically--and always in regards to discipleship. The question here does not seem to be "If I am picked to bear His cross, will I do it?" That the moment will come is a certainty. When that moment comes, when we are grabbed at random to take up that cross and be a disciple in very deed, even when we barely know Christ and we are suddenly called to pick up that cross... we find that different questions emerge...

Will I stagger before this is over?

Will I fall, and disappoint everyone who has come to know me as a Christian?

What am I doing here?

Why are these people yelling at me and taunting me?

Why did they pick me when I never asked for this?

When will it end?

Where is the comfort He promised me?

Is there no other way?

O God, where art thou?

Is there a way to give up before the journey is over?

My life has taught me something about discipleship. The way to eternal life is beneath a cross. There is no escaping once you've begun, and no lasting peace anywhere else ever again. There is nowhere to hide, no way to return to neutral ground. We may try to put down that cross and walk away from it, but that cross will never leave us.

Why? Because an infinite and eternal sacrifice was made on that cross by Jesus Christ. Time does not remove the permanence of that act, and it stands for us--covered in innocent blood--whether we choose to carry it or not.

If we carry the cross, the blood atones for us and "through his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53: 5)

If we choose not to carry that cross, we must atone for our own sins--suffer infinitely and eternally for our denial of His sacrifice, "grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment." (2 Nephi 28: 23)

When we are called, we must answer. And we have a choice to make. Do we follow and obtain glory, or deny and suffer?...

I once heard a question asked, and it was phrased "Why did Jesus weep?"

When we know the answer to that question, when we take it into our hearts, and feel it--when we know its weight and carry it in our hearts like the cross it is, apostasy is no longer an option.

Only then can we arrive at the empty tomb and know what it means.

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