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Comer: Commitment to Christ: The work it takes is rewarding

Commentary

By Ryan Comer - | Sep 9, 2023

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Ryan Comer

An episode of a sitcom I have enjoyed over the years came to my mind as I was pondering my topic for this week’s column.

In the episode, the son of the main character returned home drained after a long, hard day at a new job. After explaining the struggles he had faced that day to his father, his father acknowledged his fatigue but said that it was a good fatigue. The lesson was that the son had worked hard and that should feel rewarding.

Perhaps you’ve felt that way before. You try your hardest at something, dealing with trials and struggles along the way, and at the end, you’re exhausted. But it’s a “good fatigue” because of how committed you were. The effort felt rewarding.

This concept was spoken of by Elder Terence M. Vinson of the Presidency of the Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the October 2019 general conference of the church. Elder Vinson spoke of a pair of experiences playing rugby.

“My favorite year of rugby was the year after high school,” he said. “The team of which I was a member was both talented and committed. We were the champion team that year. However, one day we were to play a lowly ranked team, and after the game we all had dates to take to the big, annual college dance. I thought that because this would be an easy game, I should try to protect myself from injury so I would be able to enjoy the dance fully. In that game, we were not as committed in the hard contacts as we might have been, and we lost. To make things worse, I ended the match with a very swollen, fat lip that did not enhance my appearance for my big date. Perhaps I needed to learn something.

“A very different experience occurred in a later game in which I was totally committed. At one point, I ran with real intent into a contact; immediately I felt some pain in my face. Having been taught by my father that I should never let the opposition know if I was hurt, I continued to play out the game. That night, while trying to eat, I found that I couldn’t bite. The next morning, I went to the hospital, where an X-ray confirmed that my jaw was broken. My mouth was wired shut for the next six weeks.

“Lessons were learned from this parable of the fat lip and the broken jaw. Despite my memories of unsatisfied cravings for solid food during the six weeks when I could ingest only liquids, I feel no regrets about my broken jaw because it resulted from my giving my all. But I do have regrets about the fat lip because it symbolized my holding back.”

The work it took to play well was hard and it even resulted in an injury, but the fact that he gave all his effort felt rewarding.

The lesson from Elder Vinson’s anecdote, as well as the lesson taught in the television show I spoke of, can be applied to our commitment to Jesus Christ. Being committed to Christ isn’t always easy, and sometimes there will be trials that come as a result of it. We may feel weighed down at times. We may even suffer persecution. But I can promise that the work it takes to be committed to Christ is rewarding. I know this because I have had it proven true in my life. I have felt the satisfaction that comes from spending time studying the scriptures and general conference addresses. I have felt the satisfaction that comes from paying tithing. I have felt the satisfaction that comes from attending church meetings and fulfilling church callings. I have felt the satisfaction that comes from serving others. And it hasn’t just been a feeling of satisfaction, but greater peace. Through all of that, I have had it confirmed to me something else Elder Vinson said in his talk:

“We can feel enduring joy when our savior and His gospel become the framework around which we build our lives.”

I love the words “enduring joy.” Not temporary joy, not joy that only comes because things are going well, but joy that lasts, regardless of the situation. One could easily substitute the word “peace” for “joy” and the statement would still be true.

Many years ago, I was speaking to a bishop and I vented some frustrations regarding how my life was going at the time. That inspired man responded, “Don’t answer out loud. Just answer to yourself. How is your scripture study? How is your prayer?” These were not deep questions, and if I had a hard heart, I could have scoffed and asked within myself (or maybe even out loud), “How are those things going to help me in this situation where everything is going wrong?” But I had truly been brought to the depths of humility and instantly I knew that I had not been as committed to Christ as I needed to be. I knew instantly that I had work to do before I could receive the peace and personal revelation I desired. I committed that day to be better, I became better and I was strengthened. A complete change occurred where I no longer felt any of the discouragement and hopelessness that had led to that conversation with the bishop. Did all my trials vanish? No. Did every day suddenly go perfectly? No. But I had peace. This peace came directly because of a greater commitment to Christ, who took upon himself all our suffering.

Author Brent L. Top said that a part of the Atonement of Jesus Christ sometimes neglected is how it empowers.

“Grace is strength,” he said in an interview on the Brigham Young University website. “When I wrote my book, I started to understand better than ever what the Apostle Paul meant when he talked about the strength of Christ and being able to do all things through Christ (see Philippians 4:13). I need grace every moment of every day, not just to overcome sins. I need grace to give me strength to resist temptation, strength to endure, strength to exercise greater faith. As I take hold of the Savior’s hand, I am infused with power.”

For the work it takes to show a greater commitment to Christ, I can’t think of a better reward.

Contact Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @rbcomer8388 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rbcomer8388.

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