“Boys, this will be the hardest thing you have ever done. Are you up for the challenge?” asked Scoutmaster Beckham of his Troop 747.
“We are going on a tough, possibly dangerous, hike from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, 17 miles down to the historic Phantom Ranch, then back out again. All this will be done in four days at the beginning of July. Carrying a 50 lb. backpack will be difficult, but I know we can do it.”
On the first day, the 100-degree heat was beating down on all 22 Scouts and 6 adult advisors as they began the descent into the depths of the Canyon. By the second day, the Scouts had arrived at Phantom Ranch, where they cooled their feet in the waters of Bright Angel Creek at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
“I have another challenge for you,” said Brother Beckham. “Tomorrow, I will take a group to the top of the South Rim. It will be a 19-mile round-trip hike. Oh, and we’ll be leaving around 6:00 am so we can summit the Rim by noon.”
The boys were tired from the previous two days hiking, but 16 accepted the challenge and were on the trail early the next morning. The pace was fast considering they wanted to beat the heat that would be pounding on them in a few hours. Not one Scout was permitted to lag behind the group alone. All the Scouts committed to finish the grueling summit as a unit.
Once they reached the top, Brother Beckham said, “I am proud of you boys. You have accomplished a hard thing. This is something you will never forget. Okay, fall back in line—we have to get back down before dinner.”
Painfully, each of the boys fell back in line to descend the 9.5 mile return to camp. As they came into camp, they did so in a synchronized march. Each of the boys knew they had achieved a personal milestone, but most importantly they had done it together as a unified troop.
Fifty miles from Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in oppressive heat could have beaten most 13-year-old boys, but for Troop 747 it taught them individually and collectively they could accomplish hard things.
“Hard makes us stronger, humbles us, and gives us a chance to prove ourselves. In the world of nature, hard is part of the circle of life. It is hard for a baby chick to hatch out of that tough eggshell. But when someone tries to make it easier, the chick does not develop the strength necessary to live,” said Elder Stanley G. Ellis in his recent October conference address.
He went on to say, “Hard is part of the gospel plan. One of the purposes of this life is for us to be proven. During the terrible days in Liberty Jail, the Lord taught the Prophet Joseph Smith to ‘endure it well’ (D&C 121:8) and promised if he did, ‘all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.’ (D&C 122:7) Through these examples, we see that ‘hard’ is the constant. We all have challenges. The variable is how we react to the ‘hard.’” (“Do We Trust Him? Hard Is Good,” Ensign, November 2017, 113)
The perfect example of accomplishing hard things is our Savior Jesus Christ. He did so with obedience, commitment, forgiveness, compassion, and benevolence. There is no person better suited for us to look to for guidance and support in this life. Through the atonement and example of Jesus Christ, we will overcome hard things.
Remember, we have Scout leaders, family members, prophets, apostles, and Christ Himself at our side guiding us, supporting us, and helping us with the hard obstacles that confront us in this life. Each challenge, hardship, and disappointment strengthens us and prepares us for the future.
As our beloved prophet President Monson said, “May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” (“Choices,” Ensign, May 2016, 86)
Submitted by the Primary General Presidency and Board