25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.
One of the purposes of the church is to help us endure.
Consistency in following a course of action is difficult to maintain. We humans are naturally fickle. We change our minds, give up on projects, and fail to follow through on promises fairly regularly. One reason we have ordinances like baptism, written records of our covenants, and church meetings is to make our promises more durable. Without those tangible reminders, our commitment would easily fade over time, and we would therefore fail to achieve our goals.
Nephi reminded us that baptism is the gate that gets us onto the strait and narrow path leading to eternal life. He urged us, after being baptized, to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ…and endure to the end” (2 Nephi 31:20), or in other words, to keep moving along the path until we reach the goal. After the people of King Benjamin covenanted to obey God until the end of their lives, he counseled them to be “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works…that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life” (Mosiah 5:15).
In the passage above, we read about a group of church members who stayed on the path during a difficult time. Some people who were not members of the church “did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility” (Alma 1:20). Some members of the church grew tired of being persecuted and began to fight back. Ironically, because they defended the church in an inappropriate way, those members’ hearts became hardened, and they themselves fell away from the church (Alma 1:21-24). As Mormon tells us in the passage above, the members who remained faithful were “steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God,” just as King Benjamin had advised 35 years earlier. They endured persecution with patience, and they kept their faith intact.
In his first public remarks after becoming president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson encouraged members of the church to be steadfast:
Now, to each member of the Church I say: Keep on the covenant path. Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere….
Now, if you have stepped off the path, may I invite you with all the hope in my heart to please come back. Whatever your concerns, whatever your challenges, there is a place for you in this, the Lord’s Church. You and generations yet unborn will be blessed by your actions now to return to the covenant path. Our Father in Heaven cherishes His children, and He wants each of us to return home to Him. This is a grand goal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—to help each of us to come back home.
(“A Message from the First Presidency,” 16 January 2018).
Today, I will follow the example of the members of the church described in the passage above. I will choose to remain “steadfast and immovable” in spite of any trials I may face. I will choose to “bear with patience” any persecution I may experience, and I will keep my eye focused on the ultimate goal: eternal life in the presence of my Heavenly Father. I will be grateful for the church, which helps me to remain focused over time and which reminds me to stay true to the promises I have made.