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Never give up

There were only 30 seconds left in the final round in their state championship wrestling match. It had been a hard-fought duel between two of the state's premier high school wrestlers. Perhaps no two wrestlers in the meet were so evenly matched. Ever since they were sophomores, they had squared off against each other, with one winning one time, the other another time. Neither could gain a clear-cut advantage over the other.

Now they were seniors, and their three-year trek through high school wrestling was coming to an end. They had both achieved tremendously enviable records, but only one would emerge victorious as the state champion.Excitement ran high in the huge arena that night. The din was deafening as both sides cheered on their gladiators.

With only a half-minute left, the one boy was a point behind, and it seemed to many that his dream of winning the state championship was slipping away with every tick of the timekeeper's clock. Perhaps he was the only one in the entire arena who didn't think the match was all but over.

Twenty-four seconds slipped off the clock, and he was still down a point. Six seconds remained. The crowd, by now, was in a frenzy; the one side yelling for its wrestler to hold on; the other side shouting for its wrestler to make a last-second effort.

And then it happened. The boy who was a point behind lunged at the other boy's feet, catching him off-guard and sending him to the mat. Almost beyond belief, he had scored a takedown, earning him two huge points. Victorious by one point, he was ecstatic. "I did it! I did it!" he excitedly shouted over and over again as he jumped up and down.

His parents joined in the celebration, giving him hugs of joy. At that moment, in their hearts, there was no greater happiness. One of their children had excelled.

He had paid the price. He won the victory because he never gave up. The world of sports is replete with such stories, stories of victories yanked from the jaws of defeat. But in a much more meaningful way, life is full of people who are quietly and without murmuring winning their own battles by not giving up.

Their victories may never make headlines, but, nevertheless, they are wearing the victor's crown, a crown that will not rust and tarnish with the passage of time.

Such a one is the California woman in her mid-60s, who, after many years of physical problems, including being crushed by a felled tree, was diagnosed with cancer in the bone. It is a cruel, extremely painful road to have to travel. An insidious malignancy, it is destroying the bones from inside out, eventually fracturing them, "and the pain is excruciating," she once wrote.

She now had multiple "hot spots," indicating that the cancer is involved in many bones in her body and spontaneous fractures may be frequent. Unlike a broken-bone fracture, a cancer fracture seldom heals.

Pain is her constant companion. It would be easy for her to not want to go on. No one would fault her. She could already say as the Apostle Paul did, "I have fought a good fight."

But this woman of indomitable spirit and will carries on, never giving up. In spite of pain, she still teaches chemistry, though on a reduced schedule, at the college from where she could have retired long ago. And every Sunday, she still teaches the gospel doctrine class in her ward. "It's amazing to me how sick I can feel before (and after) the class," she wrote, "but during the class I feel just fine."

Each of us has personal battles to fight. Some are more difficult than others, but all are very real. With Satan throwing everything he possibly can at us, it may seem difficult at times to carry on. But we are not left alone to fight those battles. The gospel of Jesus Christ greatly strengthens our faith, courage and resolve in the face of adversity. Through the healing balm of the Atonement, we can find peace in spite of our days of affliction.

Never give up. Isn't that another way to say "endure to the end"?

Each of us one day will have to pass into immortality. Our days on earth will have ended. When that time comes if we have fought the good fight we can say as Paul said, "I have finished my course. I have kept the faith." (2 Tim. 4:7.)

If we have done that, how great will be our shouts of joy, shouts without measure greater than those from the boy who won the state wrestling championship. But like the boy's earthly parents who found such happiness in his achievements, think of the tremendous joy that our Heavenly Father undoubtedly will feel when we return home safely to Him because we never gave up.