Ashley Isaacson Woolley

Hannah of the Old Testament demonstrated the power of grief to motivate in positive ways. For years Hannah was unable to have children, a condition that caused her deep heartache. As her grief overwhelmed her, she knelt near the temple and prayed fervently for a child. She explained to the priest Eli that she was “of a sorrowful spirit” and that she was praying “out of the abundance of [her] complaint and grief” (1 Samuel 1:15–16). In time, the Lord answered her prayer by giving her a son, Samuel, who became a great prophet and leader.

Hannah’s grief over her childlessness led her to pray, which in turn led to an answer to her prayer. If Hannah had not felt grief, she might not have offered that important prayer.

Ashley Isaacson Woolley  |  The Refining Fire of Grief

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I was heartbroken. I grieved over my son’s condition and had to come to terms with the fact that he might never enjoy full health. I felt like I was drowning in sorrow—sorrow that felt inescapable because it went hand in hand with my love for my precious child.

At first, I felt that my grief meant I lacked faith. But with time, I understood that grief was a normal, healthy response to my son’s illness. In God’s plan for me, grief was a refining fire that transformed my love for others, my perspective on life’s challenges, and my faith in Heavenly Father.

Ashley Isaacson Woolley  |  The Refining Fire of Grief

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Letting myself grieve taught me how to show Christlike compassion for and sensitivity to others. In my observation, grief can change our nature if we let it turn us to the Savior. I have seen grief transform strangers into loving sisters. Once when my son was hospitalized, I was in the room with him, crying. There was another family with their own sick child on the other side of the room. Eventually I heard the curtain between us drawn aside, and I looked up to see the mother approaching me. She had been a stranger until then—she was from a different country, spoke a different native language, and knew no details of my son’s condition. Wrapping her arms tightly around me while I cried, she said in her language, ‘It’s going to be OK. He’s going to be OK. He really is.’ That mother had surely experienced grief in her own life that had transformed her into a Christlike person who could wrap her arms around a grieving stranger.

Ashley Isaacson Woolley  |  The Refining Fire of Grief

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