This speech is available
as part of the following:
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today. It is obviously with some fear and trepidation that I accepted this assignment. I thought that to break the ice I might tell a lawyer joke, but it seems a little risky given the present leadership of the university. I am encouraged, however, by the recent example of President Gordon B. Hinckley. The other day at the dedication of the Howard W. Hunter Law Library, President Rex Lee was conducting and remarked that as a lawyer in the presence of so many of his law colleagues, he shouldn’t tell any lawyer jokes on such an auspicious occasion. When President Faust stood to speak, he reaffirmed that as a lawyer he felt it would be inappropriate for him to tell any lawyer jokes as well. When it came time for President Hinckley to speak, he said, “Well, I’m not a lawyer, and I know some lawyer jokes. Do you want to hear some?” I, too, know some lawyer jokes, but also, like my prophet leader, who ultimately chose not to tell any on that occasion, I won’t tell any now.
I wish to speak to you regarding the fifth principle of the gospel—that being the principle of endurance. I take some liberty here in announcing this principle as the fifth because Joseph Smith wrote in the fourth article of faith:
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
But the Lord himself declared in section 18 of the Doctrine and Covenants that “as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved” (D&C 18:22). Based on that reference, I wish to suggest that endurance be considered the fifth principle of the gospel, at least for my purposes today.
I have always been interested in the concept of physical endurance or the ability of the body to tolerate stress. This interest was kindled by the agony I endured as a young boy while trying to train for various sports. This agony is best illustrated in my experience as a young tenth grader trying out for the C football team at Alhambra High School in southern California. I weighed about 110 pounds, and so did the uniform and pads they gave me to wear. I remember the first day of practice and all the stretching and sprinting and twisting and hitting we did. More vividly, I remember the second day of practice when I couldn’t move because I hurt so badly. I could hardly put on my uniform, let alone practice. The coach seemed a little unsympathetic as he said things like “Come on, Conlee, rub some dirt on it and get in there!” or “What’s the matter, Conlee, you some special case or something? My grandmother runs faster than you!” The way I felt, I believed he was right.
Remarkably, I found that the more I trained, the less I hurt. I learned from early experiences and from a sign that hung in our locker room that “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” Something inside me said that nothing is too hard. What I did not know at the time was that I was learning eternal principles.
My military experience taught me a lot about enduring. My approach to the army was that it was a game, and I could play any game—but I watched many give up and quit. In basic training we would run for miles at a time carrying our rifle at port arms in full pack and army boots. Though it was difficult, I told myself that others had done it and it wasn’t designed to kill me, or at least I hoped it wasn’t, so I forced myself to continue. Some, though, would stop and walk. Others would fall down and lie there. Some of us would take their loads so they could run less burdened, and they would continue. Still, some could not keep up and eventually would give up. It was my impression that those who gave up usually ended up with graver consequences than if they had endured the temporary discomfort of fatigue. My attitude was that there was always an end, and, therefore, I forced myself to continue. I was probably still concerned that someone’s grandmother was going to pass me.
In officer’s candidate school, a six-month intensive training course designed to train men to be leaders in combat situations, the rules included not only physical stress but mental and emotional stress as well. Again, I said to myself, “This is a game. If others can do it, I can, too.” I used to laugh at the silly methods used to harass us into becoming mentally tough. As underclassmen, the upperclassmen would stand us at attention, a very rigid posture referred to as “a brace.” They would say to us in their newly developed leadership style, “Hit a brace, candidate!” Candidate was the affectionate term they used that, when translated into today’s vernacular, meant “dummy” or “turkey” or “low life” or some other affectionate term. Anyway, while they had us at attention they would berate us verbally for the silliest little things, like having a button unbuttoned or a pencil showing out of our pocket or our boots not polished bright enough. These things were taboo and led the harassers to make inferences about our intelligence or even the origin of our ancestors. I could hardly keep myself from laughing in the middle of all this idiocy. The culmination of the episode came when an upperclassman would finally put his face right next to mine, and nose to nose he would conclude with this brilliant inquiry at the top of his voice, “Do you hear me, candidate?!”
I wanted to say, “Man, everybody can hear you, you big doughhead,” but according to the rules I would say, “Sir, yes sir!” And the encounter would end. Now that may seem harmless enough, but I would see grown men brought to tears under such stress and come apart emotionally. The next day they were gone, unable to play the game because they did not understand the rules.
When I went to Vietnam, the rules of the game expanded again. Not only did we have to endure physical and emotional stress but also the fear of dying. Death and severe injury were real parts of this game. What one had to overcome was the fear of these realities, and these fears were constant every day. I found great solace and comfort in my spiritual habits. For me to perform my duties under those circumstances necessitated my complete reliance on the Lord to give me the courage necessary to act in spite of my fears. I can testify to the reality of such spiritual help.
Today, in my professional work at the university, my research interests focus on the endurance capacity of man as it relates to physical performance. The exercise physiologist attempts to determine what limits man’s capacity and how those limits can be expanded through training and through other nutritional or pharmacological manipulation.
I share this with you now not to impress you with my personal life’s experiences, but to help you understand my deep interest in the principle of endurance. For not only have I marveled at the principles of temporal endurance, but I have sought to understand more fully the meaning of the words and endure to the end in their spiritual sense. These words are stated throughout the scriptures.
My academic experience has helped me develop definitions for endurance. The opposite of endurance is fatigue. Fatigue is defined as the inability to maintain a given intensity of work. It does not mean a complete cessation of work. It is defined as the inability to maintain a set level of effort. Endurance, then, would be the ability to maintain a certain level or intensity of work. Spiritually, endurance is the ability to maintain a belief in Christ and to continue to strive to live the commandments and to perfect our lives in spite of the trials of this life. A cute story illustrates the consequences of spiritual fatigue. A fine Latter-day Saint couple had lived their lives righteously. Near the end of their lives they said, “We have worked hard. Now it is time for others to carry the load.” They attended their meetings less, played more, and served less. One day they died and went to heaven. St. Peter greeted them warmly and said, “I will show you the mansion that has been prepared for you.” They finally stood outside a beautiful white estate with picket fences and ornaments. They went inside and saw lovely furniture and decorations. Both were thrilled. Then the wife looked up and noticed that the roof was only half done. It really detracted from the appearance of the home. She inquired as to why the mansion was not finished. Peter said, “When you stopped performing your labors on earth, the angels also stopped working on your mansion.”
We must, as I emphasized before, understand the rules of the game of life. First, none of us is exempt from facing life’s trials, and the fact that we are faithful does not assure us of a life without tests. This is exemplified over and over again in the scriptures as we review the lives of the prophets. Job is the epitome of trials as he lost his family, his health, his wealth, and yet never cursed God. Paul, likewise, suffered much. But listen to his attitude as expressed in his second letter to the Corinthians: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
Paul understood the reason for trials, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
This idea that trials are for our benefit was reinforced by the Lord himself to Joseph Smith when, after enumerating all the trials Joseph may be called on to endure, the Lord concluded by saying in Doctrine and Covenants 122:7, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
Closer to home we have only to look to our beloved university president, Rex E. Lee, as the epitome of faith in the face of physical trial. Plagued by a disease that has robbed him of the ability to do so many of the physical things he loved to do, he stands as an example to us all of one who understands the rules of the game. Those of us who love him and anguish for him are buoyed up by his faith and perseverance.
If the rules of the game require all to endure some trials, what are the trials? If we know what to expect, we can be better prepared. I cannot enumerate every test, but I would like you to consider some categories.
First, and most obvious, is the trial of temptation to violate the commandments. We must live the commandments to be eligible for exaltation. We cannot knowingly and willingly violate the Lord’s commandments and expect to be blessed spiritually in this life or exalted in the next. We must, therefore, endure to the end by living righteously. The challenge here, of course, is that we do not know when the end is. Anyone of us could be run over by a big Mack truck today, and had we willfully been in violation of any or all of the commandments, we would not have endured to the end, despite having received the other four principles of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost. But I wonder if even knowing when the end would come would really protect us against the temptations of the world. I am reminded of the condition of the people of Nephi just prior to the appearance of the Lord among them as described in 3 Nephi:
And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up; yea, insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few [who] were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.
Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world. [3 Nephi 6:14-15]
It was not many years before this that Nephi had preached from the tower in his yard and said to the people, “O repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die?” (Helaman 7:17), and Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied the birth and death of the Savior giving specific signs of both events. And yet we see, in spite of this foreknowledge, that the people did not endure in righteousness save it were a faithful few. We all know what happened to this region prior to the appearance of the Lord. There was mass destruction, and thousands of people lost their lives in the calamity. The Lord proclaimed to those that remained that they were spared because they were more righteous (see 3 Nephi 9:13). They had endured in righteousness, waiting for the prophecies to be fulfilled concerning the coming of the Lord. I wonder if there might be an analogy to our day. This is not the time to trifle with the commandments. We must not let Satan cheat us out of our exaltation or cause us to quit the race.
A second category is enduring the individual conditions of this life—the unique set of circumstances peculiar to us at any given time. These may be small, such as why the guy you like doesn’t seem to know you exist or why you did not achieve an A in a class in spite of every diligent effort. They may be big, such as prolonged health problems or the death of a loved one. They might be financial burdens that seem insurmountable. Or, as parents, we may have to endure the often incorrect use of free agency by our children. For others it may be the inability to be a parent when the desire to be is great. And some seem destined to live this life without a mate in spite of earnest desires otherwise. Finally, it may be an offense by a Church official such as a bishop or stake president or General Authority. In all these, the test comes in not denouncing our faith or blaming God for our trials. So many times strong members of the Church, when faced with such conditions, denounce God for not righting the set of conditions that brings them agony. By so doing they cease enduring and stand to risk all they have worked for spiritually to that point.
One example of this came when I was a bishop in Iowa while doing my graduate work. We had just sent out the first missionary that ward had ever had, a quality young man who was loved and admired by all who knew him. Unfortunately, the young man had leukemia, which was in remission. Six months into his mission the symptoms reappeared. He returned home for treatment, but the Lord needed him for a different mission. In spite of group fasting and adamant prayer in his behalf, he died, still a full-time, set-apart missionary. The grief and mourning were difficult. But I always remember the greater anguish I felt when one faithful ward member came to me right after the incident and stated, “I do not know how a just God could allow this to happen. It is not right. He was a good boy. Why would God take him from us?” No amount of consoling helped this person. For this person, God ceased to be a loving God when he did not give us what we desperately wanted. This person became bitter and left the Church for a season.
The counsel of President Kimball seems applicable. He wrote:
If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith. . . .
Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood. [Faith Precedes the Miracle (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), p. 97]
In my callings I have been so impressed as I see people facing the challenges of life by drawing closer to their God, even when the conditions are not resolved to their desire.
Recently I was in the temple with others to witness a marriage. In the company was a couple who had been pleading with Heavenly Father to help resolve a particular family problem—in spite of their prayers, the condition was not resolved as they had hoped. I noticed this couple stealing away to a quiet room in the temple, where I sensed they laid their trials again before the Lord. They were not bitter. They only wanted to endure whatever the Lord would have them endure. The Lord himself set the example as we recall the events in Gethsemane that caused him to utter, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
A third area that requires considerable spiritual strength is enduring the persecution that comes from trying to be in the world but not of the world. All of the prophets have been persecuted for the Lord’s sake, and many have given their lives rather than denounce the gospel. True followers must never be ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot let the media shake our faith. We cannot let the so-called learned argue against the simple whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The controversial issues in the Church—the issuance of the manifesto denouncing plural marriage, priesthood to all males regardless of race, the stand against the Equal Rights Amendment, the salamander letter, to name a few—have had a purging effect because people whose faith was grounded in philosophy rather than in faith, in worldly principles rather than in godly ones, were unable to withstand the criticism toward the Church and chose to renounce their faith. If the Holy Ghost has testified to you that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that President Hinckley is a prophet today and that this is the Lord’s church, then we must remain allegiant to that testimony to qualify for the blessings of endurance regardless of the events of the world that would conspire against that knowledge. If the Church is true before calamity and during easy times, then it is still true during times of trial and adversity.
I love the story of Alma and Amulek found in chapter 14 of Alma because it exemplifies the courage of faithful, humble people. First, Alma and Amulek themselves resisted bitter physical and emotional persecution as they were imprisoned for preaching the gospel among the people of Ammonihah. Then they were forced to witness the martyrdom of the faithful Saints who were put to death by fire because they would not renounce their simple testimonies. These people must have been valiant to seal their testimonies with their lives. Even Amulek could tolerate it no more and suggested to Alma that they exercise the power of God to save the people from the flames (see Alma 14:10). Alma said that the Spirit constrained him from doing that and that there was a purpose in the Lord for such carnage (see Alma 14:11). What a dramatic example of enduring persecution to the end. We hope that none of us will have to face that type of persecution, but let us be strong in the face of the challenges of this day.
Now, given that trials exist and that all of us will face these trials, how are we expected to endure them? When we want to gain physical endurance we must train the body by subjecting it to an overload. Weight lifters lift weights to strengthen the muscles to be able to lift more. Runners run long distances to allow the cardiovascular system and muscles to adapt to provide the necessary delivery and use of oxygen to promote endurance.
To increase our spiritual endurance we must train spiritually. When a sudden trial overload comes, we must already be trained in order to endure it. This training involves praying every day so that when we need to pray more fervently we are already accustomed to it. This training also involves regular scripture study so that our testimonies are firm and our understanding of God’s plan is deep. This training involves serving others in their plight so we can be better prepared for our own. This training involves regular Sunday worship, from which we gain the strength to discipline our lives and renew our covenants. Just as we build a physical reservoir through training, we can also develop a spiritual one as well.
Assuming we have been willing to train and to pay the price for spiritual endurance, what are the mechanisms by which we ultimately endure the trials of life? When Enos went into the forest to pray about the teachings of his father, there came a voice unto Enos saying, “Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed” (Enos 1:5). And Enos asked, “Lord, how is it done?” (Enos 1:7). And the voice said unto him, “Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen” (Enos 1:8). The answer is obvious. We must place our trust in the Lord and allow the Lord’s spirit to lift us. This was expressed by Jacob when he said to his fellow Nephites: “But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions” (Jacob 3:1). The scriptures are replete with the admonition to rely on the Lord. The most beautiful and recognized is Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The question is: How do we rely on the Lord? How do we avoid the depression that often accompanies the trials of life? We do it by accepting the reality of the Atonement. We often think of the Atonement only in terms of relief from sins and guilt. It is clearly that, but it is more, as we read in Alma about the Savior:
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. [Alma 7:11–13]
How does the Lord carry our burdens? Like all other principles of the gospel, it requires faith and effort. We pray earnestly and emotionally for the Lord to strengthen us and lift us, to prepare a way for us to endure, even to remove the bitter cup if it be his will, and then we release those things into his hands and believe within us that our prayers are heard and the stress of the condition will be transferred to him.
I have a strong testimony that the Lord accepts our stress and blesses us with strength and courage and hope to continue the fight. Over the years I have had the occasion to pray with great emotion for the well-being of my children and for the strength to allow them to suffer the consequences for the exercise of free agency. I have felt the inner peace that I could endure. This principle was taught in simple terms when we were driving home from a recent vacation, and, as I usually do, I was enjoying reading the various messages on bumper stickers and on the backs of trucks. I noticed on the mud flap of a big truck this simple statement: “Jesus carries my load.”
Probably the most poignant example of how the Lord carries our burdens is described in Mosiah. Alma, the former priest of King Noah, and his little band had come under the oppression of the Lamanites. The people poured out their hearts to God for deliverance:
The voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. [Mosiah 24:13–15]
In Helaman 5:12, we read, “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; . . . a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
I want to make another point regarding our reliance on the Lord to carry us through the trials of life. Learned men and women of the world have developed coping strategies to help people endure the trials of life that do not always involve faith. Unbelievers do not go off the deep end the moment adversity strikes because they do not rely on God. Most see their way through. But the believer who turns to God for refuge not only finds the comfort he or she seeks but gains an increase in testimony of the reality of the Savior and of the Atonement. This is the higher purpose of trials in God’s plan—to bring his children to the knowledge of him and his son. This is affirmed in Helaman 12:3, which reads, “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, . . . they will not remember him.” When we have endured in faith, then our knowledge becomes more sure. This is what Moroni meant when he said, “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).
This principle was made clear in a story told by David O. McKay at a Relief Society general conference meeting in 1947. He related the testimony of one of the survivors of the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company. A man was speaking to a group of people and questioning the wisdom of the Church leaders in letting a group of converts cross the plains with no more protection than handcarts could afford. A man in the audience stood up and said, “I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about.” He stated that he was a survivor of that company. He said,
We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities. [David O. McKay, “Pioneer Women,” Relief Society Magazine, January 1948, p. 8]
Thus we see that the fruits of enduring in the Lord is the miracle of testimony, and testimony helps us to endure to the end.
My talk would not be complete if I did not rehearse for you the eternal blessings that come from enduring. In 2 Nephi 31:20, we read:
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
Eternal life seems so far away as we live the daily trials of this earthly probation. But listen to this promise in the Doctrine and Covenants:
For there is a time appointed for every man, according as his works shall be.
God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;
Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory;
A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.
All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—
All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times. [D&C 121:25–31]
In the temple covenant of marriage we learn about sharing all that the Father has and about receiving thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and dominions. All these will be ours if we endure to the end.
But even in this life we often are recipients of the blessings that follow righteous endurance. Such blessings usually come after faith has been demonstrated. To illustrate this point, I would like to relate one such experience that occurred in my ward when I was a bishop. I do this with permission.
Recently an elder had his missionary farewell. It was very nice but did not really reflect the emotional and spiritual energy exerted to get him to that glorious point in his life. The elder was like many young men who really do not catch the vision of the place the Church should hold in life during the teenage years. Much to the dismay of his parents, he spent many more Sundays away from meetings than in them. But his parents and friends never gave up and prayed for him and loved him in spite of his seeming lack of spiritual discipline. But, like many who struggle, he one day decided for himself that he wanted to go on his mission. And, based solely on his faith that he was supposed to go, he went. Up to the day he left, his mother still wondered about the reality of it. She had endured literally years of seeing little or no interest, and with cautious optimism she said good-bye to him as he entered the MTC. I wish now to read a letter the parents received from their son while he was in the MTC:
Mom and Dad,
Well, I got my hair cut today. Thanks for the money. Dad, I think you should get the GTI aligned first and get tires and get them balanced. Then, if it doesn’t drive right, get a set of used aftermeshed rims. I really want to thank you, Dad, for taking all of my problems so that I can go on this mission. I really feel bad to just dump all of this on you. But I want you to know that I’m doing the right thing. Terrence and I went to the temple today, and when we went to the celestial room, we stood in a corner and Terrence prayed and then I did. We just stood there for awhile and cried and just looked at each other. I felt the spirit and happiness that I have never before felt. It’s true, this church is true. I know that now.
I really want to thank you for all you are doing to give me the opportunity. I just hope that one day I will be able to repay you somewhat. I love you.
This simple testimony from a son is the joyous blessing that came as a result of faithful endurance. The thing is, we never know what blessings await us when we are asked to endure or when they will come, only that they will assuredly come.
I bear testimony that the Lord knows us and knows our needs. Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians, “But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted [and I would insert tried] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation [or trial] also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (l Corinthians 10:13). If we seek the Lord to abide with us, we can make it through the darkest night. This I testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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