It had not been my intent to write about the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley today. Much has already been written about this great man, that I didn’t expect to have anything more of value to add. However, as I was researching another topic, I came upon a scripture that so summed up my feelings on President Hinckley’s passing that it opened up to my eyes a whole new way in which Mormons are happy.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, has been the President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or Mormon Church as it is commonly known,) for twelve years and has served in a leadership role in the Church for countless years. He is beloved by all. Yet, while the man will be missed, few express true sorrow at his passing. We are sad for ourselves, that our funny, loving, kind and courageous leader is gone from our lives, but we are not sad for him. We all expect that there was a joyous reunion in Heaven last night when Gordon B. Hinckley finally went home.
“Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.
“And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them;
“And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter” (D&C 42:45-47.)
My mom died when I was nineteen years old. I remember distinctly when they wheeled her casket out to the waiting Hearst, I felt like my heart had been ripped out by a robber and he was getting away with it. I did not have hope that I would ever see her again.
Contrast those feelings with those I am experiencing now as I watch my mother-in-law slowly lose the fight with cancer. I know we will only be separated for a short time before we will be reunited again in the eternities. There, in heaven, all our loved ones will be waiting to embrace us, to welcome us home.
Mormon beliefs teach that this life is but a stepping stone to an eternal reward. Jesus said,
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3.)
Our relationship with Heavenly Father is that of children with a loving parent. Our time on earth has been an opportunity for us to learn and grow, to choose for ourselves, to love, to repent, to be forgiven and to forgive. To the extent that we have faith in Jesus Christ and are obedient to His teachings, our eternal reward will be determined.
For those faithful who pass through the vale from this life to the next, their death will be “sweet unto them” (D&C 42:45-47,) and they will be joyful in the presence of their loved ones and their God. Because my mom died without ever knowing the truth, I now know that she too would have been welcomed by loved ones and that though she was frightened to leave this earth, her joy is full there in the presence of God.
But for one like President Hinckley, and my mother-in-law in her simple, quiet way, who have been faithful and obedient in living the gospel of Jesus Christ, what joy their passing brings them! Free from the tethers of this mortal existence, they will have happiness and joy, eternally.