Two years ago this Easter, I lost a very special friend to an unkind and excruciating death because of cancer. In the few short months between her diagnosis and her death, our friendship grew even deeper in its spiritual and eternal scope. We shared deeply our testimonies and our feelings about our Savior, Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father and the glorious Plan of Happiness. We laughed and we cried. When the final weeks turned into days, our visits took more time, but our conversations were no longer. With my friend too fragile to speak, we would just hold hands and sit together.
She had a son on a mission with over a year left to serve at the time of her death. Being a mother to a missionary once myself, I knew how very much a mother’s heart desires to see her child again. Surely, God could grant the prayers of a mother to be reunited with her son?
One day, my heart was particularly heavy as I drove away from her home. It seemed surreal. What would I do if I were called upon to suffer so? Could I be so brave? Could I be so full of faith? Could I be so eager to endure to the end? I decided to take a trip to our favorite lunch spot. I don’t know why, but I felt like going there alone to think. I was there having the usual when like a thunder clap on a summer evening, I knew that everything was going to be alright. I knew about Heavenly Father’s plan for eternal families, I knew about the Plan of Salvation, and I really KNEW that: 1) I was going to lose my friend, and that 2) she would never really be lost. She would indeed see her missionary son again, just not in mortality.
My grief turned sweeter then when I stopped to ponder on the Atoning Sacrifice and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ and how because of Him and His holiness, obedience, and faith—-my friend, and I, and you, will all enjoy the reuniting of our spirits to our physical bodies and be made whole. Because of the Resurrection, every ailment and disability will be healed. Every lost limb will be restored. Every heartache will be soothed. And, perhaps even more importantly, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we all have the opportunity NOW, if we are humble enough to take it, to repent, be made clean, and made worthy to inherit exaltation and live with our Father in Heaven again.
In April 2016, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy told of losing his beautiful daughter, Alisa, to cancer. After researching the survival rates for her type of cancer and learning statistical odds were not in her favor, Alisa wrote:
“But there is a cure, so I’m not scared. Jesus has already cured my cancer, and yours. I will be better. I’m glad I know this.”
Elder Johnson told us we could replace the word “cancer” with whatever our afflictions might be. Imagine how many people might feel the healing hope by being able to say, “but there is a cure, so I’m not scared. Jesus has already cured my depression (or fill in the blank), and yours. I will be better. I’m glad I know this.”
Elder Johnson also taught:
“The miracle of resurrection, the ultimate cure, is beyond the power of modern medicine. But it is not beyond the power of God. We know it can be done because the Savior is resurrected and will bring to pass the resurrection of us, too.”
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
“To have any measure of appreciation and gratitude for what Jesus Christ accomplished in our behalf, we must remember these vital truths:
– Jesus came to earth to do our Father’s will.
– He came with a foreknowledge that He would bear the burden of the sins of us all.
– He knew he would be lifted up on the cross.
– He was born to be the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind.
-He was able to accomplish His mission because He was the Son of God and He possessed the power of God.
– He was willing to accomplish His mission because He loves us.
– Only Jesus Christ was able and willing to accomplish such a redeeming act of love.”
Isaiah prophesied of our Savior’s willingness to do this:
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Elder Johnson also taught us this:
“The resurrection is brought to pass by the Atonement of Jesus Christ and is pivotal to the great plan of salvation. There is no salvation without both our spirit and our body.”
Our Heavenly Father made possible the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ because He gave His Only Begotten Son, that we might be saved from physical death and have every chance possible to overcome spiritual death and sin, in order that we might be able to return to Him.
We have Easter because of Jesus Christ and we have Jesus Christ because of God the Eternal Father. Our Father in Heaven loves us. He wants us all to return home to live with Him again. He knew we’d mess up, that we’d make mistakes, that we’d fall and scrape our knee and even sometimes blow out our meniscus. He knew we would have hard days and sad hours and painful years. Why? Because He is our Father. Like the perfect parent that He is, I know He is cheering us on, hoping with all His heart that we’ll pass the test, that we’ll stay in the fight, that we will continue to choose Jesus Christ just like we did while in His presence.
The joy of Easter to me is that God loves us so much He has done everything in His power to make sure we have the necessary means by which to return to Him. He gave His Only Begotten Son to suffer our sins, mistakes, sorrows, illnesses, and frailties and to die on the cross only to rise again on the third day in order that we might have the promise of a renewed body, forever reunited with our spirit, necessary for exaltation. All I have to do is work every day to remember Jesus Christ, be obedient to God’s commandments, be humble enough to repent, and to live with hope, joy, and happiness because God and Jesus love me so much they would give so much for me. There are hard times we all face in life, to be sure, but our Redeemer knows perfectly how we feel, has paid for our transgressions, because He loves us. When the world is in commotion around me, I let my heart settle on this pure eternal truth and there is no more cause for me to fear, for my heart is filled with hope.