In my ward the speaker began by talking about how Christ was the hope sent but not what the people expected and that in being called to testify of the Christ, Isaiah was aware that would be the case.

My notes of the talk follow:

Isaiah was called to announce Christ as the promised messiah and hope of the world.  Much like the way things go in in our lives, Isaiah’s prophecy was not what people expected.  He realized that what he was going to share was not going to be accepted by many.  He said:

1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Isaiah begins is by stating bluntly that what is he is saying is not what people were ready to believe. They wanted triumph and glory without the reality and sorrow that each of us must face.  Isaiah points out the sorrow and grief that Christ carried and that Christ was not physically attractive.  He knew thatcombination caused and would cause people to reject the promised messiah and to decide that the Christ was actually someone who God had smitten and rejected.

They did not like the packaging. Instead of Christ they wanted something shiny, new and easy.

Because of the reality that Christ embodied, people would reject Christ and look for something “better” that fit what they expected and wanted rather than what God had for their hope and salvation.

​Reflecting on this made me think of times my life was not what I expected or included so much more sorrow than I expected that it made me look and wonder if I had gone astray.  But then I remembered that Christ had sorrow.

​A good example of the sorrows of Christ is in the New Testament with the story of Lazarus.  Word came to Christ that  his good friend Lazarus had died and that his other friends were in grief.  To quote from the scriptures:

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

 34And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 

35Jesus wept. 

36Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 

​It struck me in this story in the scriptures that the key point is that Jesus’s grief and sorrows were driven by his love.  Jesus Christ sorrowed not because he lacked faith or because the was weak or failed, but he sorrowed because he felt great love.

​This truth that sorrow is often driven by love is expressed in our modern scriptures as well.  In Doctrine and Covenants Section 42, verse 45 it states:

45 Thou shalt alive together in blove, insomuch that thou shalt cweep for the loss of them that die …

Instead of being told not to know sorrow or to pretend we that we do not feel loss, we are told that we are to have great enough love that we also feel sorrow.

President Nelson reprised this when he said:

“Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love,” said President Russell M. Nelson. “It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: ‘Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die’ [Doctrine and Covenants 42:45].”

The scriptures tie together our love and grief.

Instead of turning “as it were” our faces away from grief, we are to acknowledge it.  In that way we follow Christ instead of reject him.

Consider.  Jesus knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. The loss was temporary.  Yet Jesus wept and his grief continued as the scriptures state, that he continued to groan as he came to the grave.

People can and often do grieve for reasons other than death.  Losing a job, moving, a loss of health, and many other things cause grief.

In grief it is easy to forget that in Christ there isalso hope.  Christ is the hope of the world, the greatest love and the promise we have.  

There are many ways to deal with grief and loss. Sometimes these are referred to as the stages or steps of grief.

We can engage in avoidance or denial.  That is a common response to grief and loss and ill fortune. People can try to just refuse to acknowledge the loss.  Of course the loss doesn’t go away by being ignored.

Others react to grief with anger. They try to replace their sorrow with rage and rejection. But anger doesn’t remove grief either. When anger burns out, the loss remains.

Another common response to a loss is bargaining, trying to barter with God. People try to reach a deal with God that if they just do “one more thing” then God will keep them from loss or sorrow or grief.  But God does not work that way.  No matter how much tithing or scripture reading or prayers or other things we manifest, it will not manipulate or control.

Another response to grief is to just give up. For some the sadness can be so overwhelming that they lose hope.  But hope is what Christ offers us, and he always stands waiting with hope.

Eventually we can react to grief and loss by accepting and feeling the grief, acknowledging our loss and then we can accept reality in order to move on.

The greatest part what we are to accept of reality is that there is also hope.  By turning to Christ and remembering his example, we are able to realize that there is always hope.

The message of Easter it is that we should remember that Christ is still the hope and promise sent from God and that we can have hope, even if we must also pass through grief and loss.

I buried three children in a five year period.  That meant terrifyingly large medical bills, funerals and a great deal of pain.  But at the end, I was also able to find hope.

In turning to God and holding on to hope there are several principles to keep in mind.

• First, God is not a vending machine.  The promises God makes are not necessarily going to be instant or immediate or what we expect.  

• Second, Christ never forgets us.

• Third, Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ

• Fourth, All will be restored

• Fifth, in the end, Christ heals us and will give us joy.

I will address the five points, each of them being part of the promise and hope that Easter brings.

First, God is not a vending machine and does not necessarily reward us in this life 

​I will begin with 1 Corinthians 15:19

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

​Paul is very clear that if our hope is that Christ will act immediately and in this life, it will only make us the most miserable of all people. It will stifle hope and is what  Expecting God to act immediately, without delay, like a vending machine will lead us to despair and loss of hope.

​It will lead us to be like the friends of Job who told Job that money and success equaled righteousness and that grief or loss meant that people had given way to sin.  It is no surprise, that when God spoke out of the whirlwind he also condemned Job’s friends in strong words.

Instead looking for material prosperity, our hope is that in Christ things will come to pass as we wait upon the Lord and will come to pass in God’s own way rather than as we expect.

​As Elder Todd Christopherson taught in last year’s April Conference:

We ought not to think of God’s plan as a cosmic vending machine where we (1) select a desired blessing, (2) insert the required sum of good works, and (3) the order is promptly delivered.

​In his talk, Elder Christopherson used Abinadi as an example of someone who knew that he was going to die, that his faith would not result in immediate blessings and who understood that Christ gave him hope beyond this life.  Abinadi did not receive great wealth or long life or deliverance from trials from God.  Yet Abinadi trusted and had faith.

Abinadi trusted in Christ because he knew that no matter what happens, the Lord never forgets us. And that is the second point.

The first point is that God is not a mechanical force that rewards us in this life and in the immediate present. The second point to remember is that God will never forget us.

​Isaiah shared God’s words:

Isaiah 49:15

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.

That leads to the third point which Paul taught which is that in addition to never forgetting us, Paul taught that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ.  He said:

Romans 8:35 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

​Nothing can separate us.  Not life, not death, nor any power in the world.

​Fourth is the point that the love of Christ has meaning.  It is not passive, but will act to heal and restore us and to bring about the resurrection.  That is, that we will be restored.

​As Alma taught.

Alma 40:

22 Yea, this bringeth about the restoration of those things of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets.

23 The asoul shall be brestored to the cbody, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a dhair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and eperfect frame.

Finally, we have the fifth point which is that restoration means that Christ will act so that all of our grief and losses will be swallowed up in his Joy. Christ will heal us. To quote from Scripture:

Alma 31: 38:  “strength, that they should suffer no manner of aafflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.”

Revelation 21:4: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”

And shortening up a longer scripture, 1 Corinthians 15:54–57: “Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? … But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Remembering the Savior on Easter Sunday

So, we have the message that:

• First, the promises God makes are not necessarily going to be instant or immediate or what we expect.  

• Second, Christ never forgets us.

• Third, Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ

• Fourth, All will be restored

• Fifth, in the end, Christ heals us and will give us joy.

On this Easter day, my message is that yes, there is grief and sadness. That is the nature of this life and of the world.

Even Christ could not escape sorrows and grief.This is no reason to despise or reject Christ.  

However, after sorrow and grief, on Easter Day Christ came forth from the tomb and Christ triumphed over death and hell.  

The important message is that while Christ was a man of sorrows, he was and is also the hope of Israel and is our hope now, and in times to come.

Through Christ we have resurrection and rebirth, we have hope and an end to our sorrows.  If we hold to Christ we can find the promise of Easter and we might have joy.

That is the message of Easter I wanted to share with you.

The speaker then finished with a testimony of Christ and the hope Christ represents.

It was a good Easter.

How was yours?