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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Meridian in 2013. With Easter quickly approaching, we thought this was a beautiful message that was worth repeating.
I have been saying “Have a blessed Sabbath” at the close of my Gospel Doctrine class for quite sometime now. Last Sunday one of the class members thanked me for always ending the class with such an important reminder – which started me thinking about when and why I even began saying it.
After thinking about it all week, I concluded that it was the influence and inspiration of a great man – one of God’s special witnesses who I love and admire so much – Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.
It all began years ago when he sent me his book Press On, Messages on Faith, Hope, and Charity.
At the time, I was going through some very difficult challenges and would often find myself up in the wee hours of the morning unable to sleep. Night after night, awake and struggling, I was drawn to Elder Wirthlin’s comforting words in the closing chapter titled “Sunday Will Come”:
I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross. On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.
It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God. I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.
But the gloom of that sad day did not endure. The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bands of death …and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.
Each of us will have our own Fridays – those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death – Sunday will come.
In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come.
On that day we will know the love of our Heavenly Father. On that day we will rejoice that the Messiah overcame all that we could live forever.
I read these encouraging and consoling words until they were engraved in my soul. In the solitude of those dark hours I was lifted and sustained, and my love, understanding and reverence for the Sabbath increased ten fold.
I always knew that Sunday was a holy day – sanctified by God as a day of rest and worship: a day to renew our baptismal covenants through the taking of the Sacrament. It is also a day in which we study the gospel, perform service and refrain from any worldly activities.
However, it was Elder Wirthlin’s powerful message that taught me Sunday is more than the above – much, much more!
“In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come.”
Sunday is about dispersing darkness and increasing the light. Sunday is about strengthening faith and the power of peace. Sunday is about healing, rest and relief! Sunday is a time of renewal, even unto a newness of life – like unto the Savior’s renewal on that Sabbath Resurrection morning.
“The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bands of death …and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.”
Thus Sunday is a reminder that God is in charge of everything and that we need not worry when dark clouds start to gather.
But above all, I learned that Sunday is about love and rejoicing in the fulfillment of God’s promise to us of Eternal life – an assurance of things to come – made possible through the atonement of His beloved Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“On that day we will know the love of our Heavenly Father. On that day we will rejoice that the Messiah overcame all that we could live forever.”
I am so grateful for the class member who triggered my thoughts back to this wonderful man – this great teacher and servant of God.
Because of his faith and testimony he helped me to endure my Fridays and hang on until Sunday; which became a weekly benchmark for me, and my very favorite day of the week.
And as each Sunday came, I would ponder in my heart all the things of which Elder Wirthlin testified that I could look forward to on Resurrection Sunday.
This whole last week I have read and re-read his talk. And although I can’t really remember when I started closing the class the way I do, I now know why.
Over the years I have come to know and love these people. I am familiar with many of their personal trials and challenges, and I know that some of them are just trying to hang on from week to week.
Therefore I hope for them (for all of us) a Sabbath filled with the blessings that Elder Wirthlin spoke about. Faith, peace, light, healing and rest; personal renewal, hope and total trust in the Lord.
And most of all to feel the love of a Father who is willing to give everything – even His only Begotten Son – that we may have Eternal Life and live in His presence.
They say that one should not think about regrets. But this week I felt deep regret.
I regret that I never spoke with Elder Wirthlin before he died; to tell him how much his wisdom, inspiration and gospel insight increased my love for the Sabbath, and strengthened me during one of the darkest times of my life.
This coming Sunday – at the conclusion of my lesson – I am going to pay tribute to this great man. I will give everyone a copy of his remarkable talk and then explain why I close the class the way I do.
I was taught that it is never too late to say “thank you” to anyone for anything!
So thank you dear Elder Wirthlin for helping me to endure a very dark Friday during which your great faith and testimony taught me “that no matter how dark our Friday, Sunday will come.”