THE WORD: Everlasting life

Published 8:18 am Thursday, May 24, 2018

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Each Memorial Day, we honor those who sacrificed their lives fighting for our great nation. According to historian David W. Blight, Memorial Day originated as Decoration Day in Charleston just after the Civil War, and the celebration quickly spread throughout the South and North, commemorating the sacrifice of both Confederate and Union soldiers in the conflict.

Growing up, we interpreted Memorial Day more broadly. As a family, we decorated the graves of my uncle, who served in the Air Force but did not die in combat, and of other relatives and friends who never served in the military. The tender care, especially of my mother and grandmother in looking after the places where we celebrated our kindred dead taught me the importance of remembering those who have gone before us, echoing the words of Malachi, who wrote of the hearts of the children turning to their fathers (Malachi 4:6).

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Death is part of life. Though we may try to avoid it, it comes to all, and when it does, our sorrow represents the deepest kind of love. Thankfully, as Russell M. Nelson taught, “The grip of physical death is temporary. It began with the fall of Adam; it ended with the atonement of Jesus the Christ.”

When death strikes close to home, we may feel despair and, like Job, raise our voices and ask, “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14).

But through faith we proclaim, as did Job, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25–26).

I like to think that the spirits of our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us. In a recent book, novelist George Saunders described how some spirits, having passed through the portal of death, lingered longer due to their connections with the living. The bonds of love forged in life cannot be broken, and just as our hearts turn to them, I am sure they smile, frown, and occasionally shake their heads at what we do. As Malachi described, the hearts of the fathers turn to the children (Malachi 4:6).

Jesus Christ is “the first fruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). His promise is sure, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25–26).

BRENT ROBERTS is the Branch Presidency First Counselor, Sandy River Branch, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at