God loved us, so he sent his Son (Hymns, 1985, no. 187).
The preparations were everywhere! Peter’s third grade class was planning a huge Easter egg hunt, his Primary was singing with the ward choir for the Easter program the next Sunday, and his mom was busy planning for relatives coming to visit for the holiday. His friends were all busy and excitedly awaiting the Easter holiday.
But Peter was having a difficult time. He wasn’t excited about treats and special lessons at church, because Grandpa Jensen was very sick—so sick that at a family council, Peter and his brothers and sister were told that Grandpa Jensen would soon go back to live with Heavenly Father.
Peter was sure that there was some terrible mistake! Doctors didn’t always know everything. Grandpa Jensen had worked very hard all his life. He was strong and good, and everyone loved him. He just couldn’t be dying!
Peter spent a lot of time praying. He pleaded, “Please don’t take Grandpa home with Thee, Heavenly Father.” He knew that he should say, “Thy will be done,” but it was too hard to say. If I say it out loud, Peter thought, it might mean I’m giving up.
Peter thought about how lonely it would be without Grandpa. He thought about how Grandma would feel without Grandpa by her side. And he knew that all of his family would miss their wonderful Grandpa Jensen. Once in a while Peter found himself laughing and having fun with his friends. Then he’d stop and wonder how he could play and laugh and joke while Grandpa was so sick.
One night at family home evening, Peter’s older brother, Thad, told the story about the Savior’s death and about the joy that Mary Magdalene felt when she knew that He was resurrected. Then Thad talked about their family, how although death would separate them on this earth, because of Jesus, they would someday experience joy when they were all together again. He also talked about the great importance of going to the temple and its blessings. He ended his lesson by saying that Joseph Smith had taught that all people take the love and affection they feel with them when they die. Grandpa would still love everyone in his family as much as ever, even though they were separated. Family is still family—grandpas are still grandpas!
Peter felt much better about Grandpa after that lesson. But then he began to wonder if it would hurt Grandpa to have his spirit leave his sick body. Grandpa was already suffering so much that Peter couldn’t stand that thought. Mom suggested that he talk to Grandpa about it. She said that Grandpa lived close to Heavenly Father already and that he would explain his feelings to Peter.
Sure enough, when Peter told Grandpa his concern, Grandpa explained, “Petey, do you remember that day I took you to the zoo last year?”
“Yes. We stayed so long and had such fun that I fell asleep in the car on the way home.”
“That’s right. You didn’t know that when we got home, I lovingly picked you up and carefully tucked you in your bed. The next morning you were surprised to see where you were. You knew that you were in a different place from where you fell asleep. You didn’t know how you got there, but you knew that someone who loved you took you there. Well, that’s how I believe it will be. Perhaps I will fall asleep, and when I awake, my spirit will be somewhere else. I won’t hurt anymore or be uncomfortable, and I’ll know that Someone who loves me took me there.”
Feeling Grandpa’s arm about him while they talked helped Peter realize that Grandpa wasn’t frightened. And as he closed Grandpa’s door behind him, Peter felt a sense of reverent excitement for the eternal things that Grandpa would experience.
The next Sunday was Easter. During sacrament meeting, Peter listened carefully to everything. The scriptures that were read about Jesus; Jesus’ praying, “Thy will be done”; the telling about the cross, the thorns, the sepulchre, and Mary Magdalene’s joy—all meant much more to him that day.
Jesus had gone through all He had endured because He loved Peter and Grandpa Jensen and everyone else in the world. If Jesus had not atoned in Gethsemane and died for all of God’s children, there would be no hope to ever see Grandpa Jensen again after he died. But because of Jesus, there is hope for every little child and every grandpa to be together again.
As Peter listened to the first line of the closing song, “God loved us, so he sent his Son,”* his heart swelled with joy. That’s it! he thought. That’s the happy message of Easter!