Strength and struggle go together. The supreme reward of struggle is strength. Life is a battle and the greatest joy is to overcome. The pursuit of easy things makes men weak. Do not equip yourselves with superior power and hope to escape the responsibility and work. It cannot be done. It is following the lines of least resistance that makes rivers and men crooked.
It is difficult to resist the conclusion that twentieth century man has decided to abolish himself. Tired of the struggle to be himself, he has created boredom out of his own affluence, impotence out of his own detromania, and vulnerability out of his own strength. He himself blows the trumpet that brings the walls of his own cities crashing down, until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, having drugged and polluted himself into stupefaction, he keels over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and becomes extinct.
“You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, single power, a single salvation... and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else”
"If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from the pinnacle of this temple."
...The temptation here is even more subtle than the first. It is a temptation of the spirit, of a private hunger more real than the need for bread. Would God save him? Would he? Is Jesus to have divine companionship in this awesome ministry he now begins? He knows that among the children of men only suffering, denunciation, betrayal, and rejection lie ahead. But what about heaven? How alone does a Messiah have to be? Perhaps before venturing forth he ought to get final reassurance. And shouldn't Satan be silenced with his insidious "If, if, if"? Why not get spiritual confirmation, a loyal congregation, and an answer to this imp who heckles--all with one appeal to God's power? Right now. The easy way. Off the temple spire.
But Jesus refuses the temptation of the spirit. Denial and restraint there are also part of divine preparation. He will gain followers, and he will receive reassurance. But not this way. Neither the converts nor the comforts he will so richly deserve have been earned yet. His ministry has hardly begun. The rewards will come by and by. But even the Son of God must wait. The Redeemer who would never bestow cheap grace on others was not likely to ask for any himself.
And so I ask you to be patient in things of the spirit. Perhaps your life has been different from mine, but I doubt it. I have had to struggle to know my standing before God. As a teenager I found it hard to pray and harder to fast. My mission was not easy. I struggled as a student only to find that I had to struggle afterwards, too. In this present assignment I have wept and ached for guidance. It seems no worthy accomplishment has ever come easily for me, and maybe it won't for you--but I'm living long enough to be grateful for that.
It is ordained that we come to know our worth as children of God without something as dramatic as a leap from the pinnacle of the temple. All but a prophetic few must go about God's work in very quiet, very unspectacular ways. And as you labor to know him, and to know that he knows you; as you invest your time--and your convenience--in quiet, unassuming service, you will indeed find that "he shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up" (Matthew 4:6). It may not come quickly. It probably won't come quickly, but there is purpose in the time it takes. Cherish your spiritual burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do his work if you carry them well. Do you recognize this struggle? The date is 14 July 1943.
No peace had yet come, though I had prayed for it almost unceasingly. . . . I turned toward the hills. I had no objective. I wanted only to be alone. I had begun a fast. . . .
My weakness overcame me again. Hot tears came flooding down my cheeks as I made no effort to mop them up. I was accusing myself, and condemning myself and upbraiding myself. I was praying aloud for special blessings from the Lord. I was telling him that I had not asked for this position, that I was incapable of doing the work, that I was imperfect and weak and human, that I was unworthy of so noble a calling, though I had tried hard and my heart had been right. I knew that I must have been at least partly responsible for offenses and misunderstandings which a few people fancied they had suffered at my hands. I realized that I had been petty and small many times. I did not spare myself. A thousand things passed through my mind. Was I called by revelation? . . .
If I could only have the assurance that my call had been inspired most of my other worries would be dissipated. . . .I knew that I must have His acceptance before I could go on. I stumbled up the hill and onto the mountain, as the way became rough. I faltered some as the way became steep. No paths were there to follow; I climbed on and on. Never had I prayed before as I now prayed. What I wanted and felt I must have was an assurance that I was acceptable to the Lord. I told Him that I neither wanted nor was worthy of a vision or appearance of angels or any special manifestation. I wanted only the calm peaceful assurance that my offering was accepted. Never before had I been tortured as I was now being tortured. And the assurance did not come. . . .
I mentally beat myself and chastised myself and accused myself. As the sun came up and moved in the sky I moved with it, lying in the sun, and still I received no relief. I sat up on the cliff and strange thoughts came to me: all this anguish and suffering could be ended so easily from this high cliff and then came to my mind the temptations of the Master when he was tempted to cast Himself down--then I was ashamed for having placed myself in a comparable position and trying to be dramatic. . . . I was filled with remorse because I had permitted myself to place myself . . . in a position comparable, in a small degree, to the position the Saviour found Himself in when He was tempted, and . . . I felt I had cheapened the experiences of the Lord, having compared mine with His. Again I challenged myself and told myself that I was only trying to be dramatic and sorry for myself.
. . . I lay on the cool earth. The thought came that I might take cold, but what did it matter now. There was one great desire, to get a testimony of my calling, to know that it was not human and inspired by ulterior motives, kindly as they might be. How I prayed! How I suffered! How I wept! How I struggled! [Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977), p. 192–95]
Now at this very hour 38 years and a mountain of tumors and troubles later, this sweet and godly man clings to life notbecause that life has been convenient but because he feels there might be one more mountain to climb, one more obstacle of body or spirit that needs to be overcome. The spiritual odyssey of Andrew Kimball's son has been anything but easy. And maybe that of your father's son or your mother's daughter will require patience and perseverance too.
So if your prayers don't always seem answered, take heart. One greater than you or President Kimball cried, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived.
When we seek inspiration to help make decisions, the Lord gives gentle promptings. These require us to think, to exercise faith, to work, to struggle at times, and to act. Seldom does the whole answer to a decisively important matter or complex problem come all at once. More often, it comes a piece at a time, without the end in sight.
Life is the struggle against the path of least resistance.
Most recently, I think about the indescribable bond of brotherhood I have felt within the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Though each of these groups was very different, each had common characteristics. Perhaps we grew close because we struggled so much together, strived together, and achieved together. Perhaps our camaraderie was because we linked arms together in a common journey where we had to depend so completely on each other. Whatever it was we shared these relationships are the foundation of many of the most precious and rewarding moments of my life.
I wish to call your attention to the importance of establishing a bond of brotherhood in our assignments....
Establishing a bond of brotherhood is critical to successful church work. If those who serve with you feel this mutual love and trust, the work of the Lord will thrive, and heaven will aid you in your efforts. Fail to establish this bond, however, and you may find your work tedious, toilsome and unproductive.
I knew tuitions were high and jobs were scarce. And I knew there was an alarmingly wider war spreading in Southeast Asia, which could require my military service. I hoped to marry but wondered when--or if--that could be, at least under all these circumstances. My educational hopes seemed like a never-ending path into the unknown, and I had hardly begun.
So before heading home I stood one last time on the cliffs of the country I had come to love so much,
This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle . . .
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war. [Richard II, act 2, scene 1, lines 40, 4344]
And there I read again,
We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering. What is our aim? . . . Victory--victory at all costs; victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be. . . .
Conquer we must; as conquer we shall. . . . We shall never surrender.
Blood? Toil? Tears? Sweat? Well, I figured I had as much of those as anyone, so I headed home to try. I was, in the parlance of the day, going to give it "my best shot," however feeble that might prove to be. Now at the same time in your life, I ask you to do the same.