While on a mission tour late last year, on a Wednesday evening, I met the faithful parents of a newer missionary serving in that mission. On Friday, I met the fine young missionary. He was born in the covenant and raised in the Church by those goodly parents. Early on Saturday morning, the mission president informed me that the father had died, and the mother was critically injured, in a car accident the night before.
With the approval of the Area Presidency, the mission president arranged for this young elder and his companion to attend the funeral of his father later that same day. As travel arrangements were being made and while still dealing with the tragic news, the young elder said, “I want to be a missionary; can I come back?” His question and subsequent actions reflected his desire and determination to press forward in faith and continue his service. For him, with faith in the resurrection and the sealing ordinances of the temple, his father’s death was not the end, though it was such a hard thing for any young person to bear. He knew his father was alright and regardless of what happened with his mother, their family could be together again. Following the funeral, he promptly returned to his missionary work and is serving with the faith and hope found in message of the restored gospel that he teaches every day.
Each of us might ask, do I really believe in the resurrection? When faced with the death of one I dearly love, will I feel hopeless or hopeful? Will I press forward with steadfast faith in Christ? Will I feel like Jacob who proclaimed, “O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.”1
Among the most joyful and important words of scripture are those spoken by the angel at the empty tomb: “He is not here: for he is risen.”2 Contained in that simple phrase is the affirmation of two comforting doctrines that are central to our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness: first, Jesus Christ is a living resurrected Being; and second, because He lives, so will all of us be resurrected and live again.
During His ministry, Jesus taught his disciples that he would be killed and be raised again on the third day. 3 Though they heard it taught, it was difficult for some of these disciples to comprehend the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. They had seen Jesus heal the sick and raise the dead, but then it all seemed to come to a tragic end. He was crucified. He was gone.
Even after hearing the testimony of other apostles that they had seen the living Christ, Thomas did not believe until he saw the Savior and felt the prints in His hands and side. Jesus, noting Thomas believed because he had seen, stated, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”4
As I attend funerals, I see in the faces of loved ones the sorrow and grief they feel deeply at the passing of one they love dearly. At the same time, however, I am grateful to see hope among those who understand and believe in the plan of happiness. Among those who trust in the reality of the resurrection, who truly believe that Christ overcame death, there is peace. They know the separation from loved ones that seems so hard to bear is only temporary.
Faith in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and in Their infinite love and sure promises, gives us the strength to move forward during times of adversity. During this month when we celebrate the resurrection and atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, may we have faith in that incomparable act of love. May we find comfort in the knowledge that He laid down His life and took it up again. May we trust in the promised resurrection for all and in the healing, cleansing power of the atonement for those who repent.
I add my witness to that of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!”5 I join in the expression of gratitude of living apostles who have declared, “God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”6
Caption: Elder Randy D. Funk
1 2 Nephi 9:10
2 Matthew 28:6
3 See Matthew 16:21, John 10:17
4 See John 20:19-29
5 Doctrine and Covenants 76:22
6 “The Living Christ”