Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spiritual Strength

The prophet Joseph Smith taught, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."1 

We came to this earth with the express purpose of being tested and tried by our Father in Heaven. Taught the Lord, "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."2 Should we be successful in striving to keep the commandments and "hold out faithful to the end [we] are received into heaven, that thereby [we] may dwell with God in a state of neverending happiness"3 together with our families.

But holding out faithful to the end isn't always easy. In fact, rarely is keeping the commandments ever easy. We live in a world of shifting and changing values where men call evil good and good evil.4 The prophet Abinadi taught that as a result of the Fall of Adam, "all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state."5

Taught the prophet Alma, "all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made."6 He continued, "Therefore may God grant unto you, . . . that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you."7 We live in a fallen world and each of us "have sinned and come short of the glory of God."8 We are born natural men and women subject to all manner of temptations and weaknesses. However, we can, by yielding to the enticings of the Holy Ghost, put off the natural man and become saints through the Atonement of Christ the Lord.9 We must exercise faith unto repentance and through the redemptive power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ all wrongs, inequalities, disappointments, and trials are made right and our sins are forgiven.

Following the pathway to eternal life is simple to understand yet difficult to perform. The way is clear and the guideposts are well-defined, but Satan is very good at creating mists and haze and distractions that entice us to loosen our grip on and eventually leave the iron rod.10

How, then, are we to maintain the proper focus to stand against the adversary and his minions? How can we become strong enough to yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and put off the natural man? The answer lies in spiritual strength. Developing spiritual strength enables us to "continue in the way which is narrow, until [we] shall obtain eternal life."11 Spiritual strength is the key to successfully staying on the strait and narrow path and overcoming our trials and weaknesses.

As we prepare for trials and life in general and pray for the strength to endure all things, we are endowed with power from on high and are blessed with the capacity to do all things. Our spiritual strength grows, as does our capacity to endure hardships and trials. As life gets harder, our ability to endure our trials increases, but only if we are constantly striving to develop and increase our spiritual strength.

Developing Spiritual Strength

In preparation for this study and post, I searched, "spiritual strength" in General Conference addresses on LDS.org and these are the first 10 results (some similar results omitted):
  • "The very nature of the Redeemer’s Atonement and the purpose of the restored Church are intended to help us receive . . . spiritual strength."
  • "a temperate soul—one who is humble and full of love—is also a person of increased spiritual strength."
  • "As we obey our Heavenly Father’s commandments, our faith increases, we grow in wisdom and spiritual strength, and it becomes easier for us to make right choices."
  • "I repeat, fervent prayer is key to gaining the spiritual strength..."
  • "Righteous character provides the foundation of spiritual strength."
  • "Increased spiritual strength is a gift from God which He can give when we push in His service to our limits. Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our natures can be changed. Then our power to carry burdens can be increased more than enough to compensate for the increased service we will be asked to give."
  • "Making and keeping temple covenants also adds spiritual strength..."
  • "Spiritual strength frequently comes through selfless service." 
  • "Through our discipleship, we are able to receive the spiritual strength that we need to deal with the challenges of life."
      • —President James E. Faust, "Discipleship," Ensign, Nov 2006
  • "I am grateful for the spiritual strength and guidance the gift of the Holy Ghost has given me throughout my life."
And one non-General Conference bonus:
  • "As you adhere to the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will . . . gain protection and spiritual strength in complete obedience.”
Even simply by skimming the results of this search, the way to develop spiritual strength becomes clear: keep the commandments. Pray, make and keep temple covenants, work on developing Christlike attributes, love and serve, seek the guidance and companionship of the Holy Ghost, etc. Spiritual strength is developed in doing spiritual things.

Conclusion

As we strive to develop spiritual strength, we must rely on the Savior, who is the source of all strength.12 The Savior told the early Saints, "as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life."13 The promise of miracles and power to overcome the world and obtain eternal life can be ours too, if we come unto Christ desiring to be perfected in Him.14 President Ezra Taft Benson taught, "By his grace [meaning Jesus Christ] we receive an endowment of blessing and spiritual strength that may eventually lead us to eternal life if we endure to the end."15

The Lord is the source of all spiritual strength. May we strive to develop such strength that we may overcome the trials of life and be happy and gain eternal life with our Father in Heaven and our families.

Jeremy

1. History of the Church, 5:134–35.
4. see Isaiah 5:20
10. see 1 Nephi 8:23
12. For more about the Lord as our strength, try searching "strength" simply in the Old Testament, or even just in The Book of Psalms or Isaiah.