He is Risen. Central to the message and doctrine of Christianity is that life does not end with death. The glorious message of Easter is that although the body of Christ was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea—when Mary Magdalene came to find Him, the tomb was indeed empty. Her eyes were opened as she recognized the voice of the Lord in the midst of her weeping, tenderly uttering her name and inviting her to go tell the Apostles that she had seen her Lord.1 Peter and the other ten Apostles each then became personal witnesses of the Resurrection of their Lord and spent the rest of their lives proclaiming boldly and powerfully their sure knowledge that God had raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead.2
This becomes so personal to each of us as loved ones die and we grieve their loss. The past year of 2020 has been especially painful for many of us. Surely one of life’s greatest tests comes with the passing of a loved one. We yearn for answers. What becomes of them? What will they be doing? Will we see them again? What about each of us as our time comes to pass from this life? How will this knowledge affect our daily actions?
Alma teaches his son Corianton that “the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body . . . are taken home to that God who gave them life.” He further teaches that “the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness . . . where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.”3
The answer is a resounding yes. And not only will we see them again, but we will feel great joy. Jesus prepared His disciples for his death and Resurrection by saying “a little while and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while and ye shall see me . . .
“Ye shall weep and lament, . . . and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned to joy . . .
“I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice.”4
As I write this article, my 93-year-old mother lies in hospital where the doctors tell us that there is nothing more they can do medically to save her life. She has led a remarkable and righteous life of devotion to the Lord and is an inspiration to all who know her. She assures me that she does not fear death and knows that now is her time.5 In fact, for many years she has shared her great joy in anticipation of being reunited with her beloved eternal companion who died over thirty years ago. The Lord teaches us to “fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.”6
Last July I was blessed to sit with President Russell M. Nelson for a few moments while the COVID-19 pandemic was raging in the world. I asked him the following question: “President Nelson, very soon I will return to South Africa. What message would you have me deliver to our greatly loved Saints in the Africa South Area?”
He pondered for a moment and then answered with this: “Please tell them that some things are out of our control. But we should focus on those things that we can control. Specifically, how we live our lives. We need to live our lives in such a way that we are always ready to meet our Maker.”
I have since thought often of our living prophet’s profound and simple statement. It teaches us to have an eternal perspective in all we choose to do. An ancient prophet similarly taught us that “this life is the time . . . to prepare to meet God.”7
In closing, as we consider the glorious truth that we will live again and that death is not to be feared but is part of God’s plan for all of us, I share an analogy from my childhood:
When I was a boy, we lived on a hillside that looked out over the sprawling city of Auckland, New Zealand. Our house had large clear sliding glass windows across the front. With the lights turned on in the home, we could plainly see what was in the home but as we looked out to the dark beyond, all we could see were our reflections in these large windows. This filled our vision and we were happy. However, when the lights in the room were turned off, an amazing vista would open up to us as we then saw the beautiful lights of a vast city spread out before us with distant lighted ships coming and going in the harbour. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, nothing had really changed as the scene was always there, but our vision and capacity to see what was previously hidden had all of a sudden expanded. This simple analogy helps me better visualize the passage we call death. It is as if the lights of our mortal existence are turned off and we no longer focus on our immediate surroundings, but instead a vast vista of eternal beauty and possibilities is opened to us. I am confident that what lies beyond our limited earthly vision will be glorious to behold.
My testimony of the glorious events of Easter morning is that we are each assured life after death, thanks to the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As we focus on that which we can control in order to live righteously, we need not fear death but will experience the joy of receiving the greatest of all God’s gifts, even eternal life.8 This greatest of all gifts is available to all. We will yet again see our loved ones who have died, and our sorrow will be turned to joy.
S. Mark Palmer was called as a General Authority Seventy in April 2016. He is married to Jacqueline Ann Wood; they are the parents of six children.