Why do some people have their hearts softened through trials and hardships, and other people have their hearts hardened through those same experiences? The Book of Mormon repeatedly causes the reader to think about these questions.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell pushed members of the Church to think carefully about this question in a masterful talk from April 1990 “Endure it Well.”
Elder Maxwell talked about that mortality is intended to be a “proving and testing” experience, and that God “provides us with our chances to improve, affording us urgently needed developmental space or time.” Life without opportunities and time to improve would be like opening the oven door to prevent a cake from rising.
Of course, time itself is not the answer “the passage of time does not bring an automatic advance.” Rather “true enduring represents not merely the passage of time, but the passage of the soul—and not merely from A to B, but sometimes all the way from A to Z. To endure in faith and doeth God’s will (see D&C 63:20; D&C 101:35) therefore involves much more than putting up with a circumstance.”
This isn’t an easy process. “You and I tend to dally over and dabble in temptations, entertaining them for a while, even if we later evict them.” We make the same mistakes over and over again until “we are bone weary and would much rather pull off to the side of the road.”
And yet, we press onward and rely on the merits of Christ. We “walk in the meekness of [his] Spirit” and find peace in him. With his strength, we do not shrink and we achieve peace that “passeth all understanding.”