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I knew this was going to be a tough year, because I had squished all four years of my courses into three, and now I was entering into the final year of the most difficult coursework. An overload of easy classes is simpler than an overload of difficult ones. But this year had been really bad for my folks, too. My brother had really put them into a financial bind by taking out a bank loan and not paying. (They had co-signed….it was really hard for them for a time.) And it was difficult for my brother, for he had been drinking way too much. So with all of this misery, I thought I would save up and make Christmas for mom and dad as special as I could. I saved and saved, and had quite a tidy sum. I had great plans. As the Christmas vacation got closer, I began to explore gift opportunities. Should it be a weekend away at a nice resort, or a family meal at a special restaurant? Should it be some new clothing for them? I was wrestling with all of that, and just as I came to a decision, I had my plan. The next day, I would go shopping and make all the arrangements. It was late at night and satisfied with my decision I prepared to go to sleep. But before doing so, I thought I’d dig out my savings, (it was in the back of my top right-hand desk drawer), just to make sure I was ready to go first thing. I reached into the drawer, and couldn’t find it…. Hmmm. It has to be here. I reached deeper and moved things around…. Nothing. In a fit of desperation, I pulled the drawer out and emptied it. It wasn’t there. It was gone. All the money that I had saved all those months, was gone, and with it, any hope of a happy Christmas. I didn’t know if it had been stolen or what had happened, but it was well and truly gone!
Now, as it turns out, we had a nice Christmas, celebrating the Savior’s birth, worshiping together as a family, and just spending time…together! I was sad about the money, but it turned out ok in the end.
The winter semester went by, and I survived. My brother came around and got his act together and my parents’ lot also improved. As I was cleaning out my dorm room after three long years, I had no thought of anything other than making sure the room was not just empty, but also, clean! I pulled all the drawers out and was going to wash them down and put them back. As I was replacing them, I noticed at the base of the inside of the desk, at the very back, some papers had fallen in. I reached in to retrieve them and pulled out a couple of sheets of paper, and $300 cash. My money had returned. I was absolutely incredulous. I could not believe it. I had been so convinced that it was gone forever. To think that it might ever be retrieved was unbelievable. I had no inclination or temptation to even hope. It was gone. But now, it was back! (There was great joy in my ’67 Chevy that night as I drove to my folks’ house!)
Easter is rather like that. For the disciples. For us. Jesus was dead. And dead is dead. It doesn’t change. To think that there could be a hope of anything other than death in death was unbelievable. We aren’t even tempted to be hopeful in death, just sorrowful. But there for the disciples, in the midst of that sadness and grief, was life. So the question for us, brothers and sisters, is do we believe?