No one reaches out to you for compassion or empathy so you can teach them how to behave better. They reach out to us because they believe in our capacity to know our darkness well enough to sit in the dark with them.
Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.
“Through tears and trials, through fears and sorrows, through the heartache and loneliness of losing loved ones, there is assurance that life is everlasting. Our Lord and Savior is the living witness that such is so.”
Let me share four basic contributing factors which might prevent our personal progress and church activity: (1) the constant nursing of personal hurts, (2) yielding to the sorrow of tragedy and grief, (3) being fettered with the habits and mistakes of misconduct, (4) letting fears inhibit progress.
Let us ponder these enemies of eternal progress and seek ways of gathering the courage to cast them aside.
As I turned to the scriptures, I read in 2 Nephi 9:20 that God knows “all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.” If the Lord knew beforehand what would happen to our son, then the word accident takes on a greater meaning. Yes, it was an accident, but the fact that the Lord knew that such a thing could happen in mortality made it easier for me to accept and bear. I felt trust and faith in Him. I knew I could cast my burdens on the Lord and He would sustain me (see Ps. 55:22). I realized that simply because God knows all things does not imply that He is responsible for what happens. I am grateful for the Atonement that can compensate for whatever happens and can heal all my wounds.
I don’t think I could ever have coped without the hope given us throughout the scriptures and the writings of the prophets. I love and accept the Prophet Joseph Smith’s teachings on the innocence of children and their right to inherit the celestial kingdom (see D&C 137:7). These truths are also profoundly expressed in Mosiah 3 and in Moroni 8. We find peace in the knowledge that we shall have our son again.
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
“My children and I were at her bedside as she slipped peacefully into eternity. As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers, I confess I was overcome. Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular. She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age, she has again become the girl of my dreams.”
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.
“There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment. … We must let go of our grievances. … That is the Lord’s way.”