By Austi Stenson from Oregon
I had just started my mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I received a phone call from home that devastated me.
My nephew had been rushed to the hospital and was not expected to make it through the day. I had taken care of the little guy for a year prior to leaving on my mission, and in many ways I felt like he was my own. We even looked alike, with wild hair and large, bright eyes.
He had been born with a rare genetic disorder. Doctors estimated he would live to adulthood, but they were not certain of his lifespan or developmental capabilities in the long run. He was in the hospital because he had contracted a simple case of pneumonia. I couldn’t believe that was how he would be taken from us.
I called my mother just a few moments after hearing the news. She was at the hospital with our family. They were just about to offer a prayer before saying their final good-byes. Our little buddy passed away a few hours later.
Through this experience and many other challenging and confusing times in my life, I have understood why Mary Magdalene was found weeping at Jesus’s empty tomb, overcome with grief and sadness because she didn’t know where His body had gone. But just like Mary, I have also received help when I needed it most.
For Mary, help came as an appearance from an angel. He said, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen” (Matthew 28:5–6). She also saw Jesus Himself (see John 20:14–18).
For me, help came as a simple verse of scripture: “For I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 36:3).
I found that scripture just weeks after returning from my mission, almost exactly a year and a half after my nephew passed away. I was sitting in the kitchen with his older sister, Kate, one morning when God placed that little verse in our path. I was amazed that even at the young age of 8, my niece understood this scripture was promising her and her grieving family hope and help in their time of need.
Every Easter season my mother taught us about Jesus’s final days on earth. She would hand each of us an Easter egg, and we would open them one after another to reveal the simple objects inside. One egg contained coins, representing Christ being betrayed for a few pieces of silver. Another egg contained a nail, representing His being hanged from the cross. The final egg, however, was always empty, representing His Resurrection from death.
As a child I felt disappointed every time I received the empty egg. It seemed like a lesser gift than the others. The older I get, however, the more I realize just how grateful I am to have been given the empty egg time and time again.
We will all face times filled with the disappointment and even the devastation that initially comes from receiving an empty egg. We will be tempted to ask for a different one, a redo. But the lesson of my youth was that the egg was not empty because it had been overlooked; it was empty because death had been overcome.
So, to anyone who has lost a loved one, lost their will to move forward, or lost their feeling of connection with God, I hope you remember: “Fear not ye … for he is risen.”
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