when God weeps


In the wake of the horrific shootings in Connecticut, I’m turning to a beloved scripture for comfort. Almost everyone knows the Mormons regard The Book of Mormon- Another Testament of Jesus Christ as scriptural companion to the Bible. Lesser known is our Doctrine and Covenants and the tiniest book of all– The Pearl of Great Price– only thirty-five pages long.
On page 20 (Moses 7), we read where God reveals ‘the world for the space of many generations’ to Enoch. As wars and bloodshed and hatred are unveiled the Lord weeps openly. Enoch turns to the Lord and asks,
“How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever…” Moses 29-30

I can almost hear the sobs breaking and halting the Lord’s voice in His reply,
“The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood.” Moses 32-33
God weeps today. He is weeping for the families who have lost a loved one, He is weeping for the vulnerable, mourning town of Newton, CT. He is weeping for every child and every parent who feels threatened or unsafe and He is weeping for the evil in this beautiful world of His Creation.
From the beginning, God gave his children agency to choose. He protects this agency, the scriptures preach against taking away the agency of another, and still, God mourns our often unconscionable choices.
I do not believe God sets tragedy in motion to “teach us a lesson” or callously watches abuses and deaths. I believe he weeps as we stumbling humans make one poor choice after another. Sometimes, God intervenes (likely much more often than we know) but always, always He works to spread His commandments, “Love one another.”
No pain compares to the death of a child. In my view, nothing, nothing comes close. I would crawl through deserts and thorns, gladly place my arm on a chopping block, place my neck on a chopping block to protect my children. And I imagine every parent who has lost a child wishes they had one of those options rather than empty arms and aching hearts.
Why doesn’t God intervene? Why didn’t God stop the shooter before he reached the school?
I don’t know. I know my hurts are only a pinprick compared to the death of a child, but I have a tiny morsel of insight. Please forgive me for my lapses as I try to explain.
Two years ago, I saw God try to stop a man from making a horrible, destructive decision. At every turn, God made it perfectly clear to this man that he should stop, that he was ‘jumping off a cliff” that his actions would cause decades (or an eternity) of heartbreak. God did everything short of sending an angel with a fiery sword (and I was there– it felt like an angel with a fiery sword was in the room) and still, this man chose to ignore God. And well, of course, every awful thing he’d been warned about came true.
My heart was broken. And in my darkest hours, I doubted God. But I know this, God did His part. He did everything He could to prevent tragedy, but God will not force anyone to do His will.
Could he? Oh yes. But he respects our agency. He allows us to choose.
I don’t pretend to understand the mind of God. If I were God, I’d crack lightning bolts on the head of every person on their way to abuse a child, or cheat on their wife, or start a war. I don’t like agency all that much, but I know it is a Godly principle.
Do you remember the movie Minority Report? Ugh, I really despised the movie because I struggle with anything scary, but the premise is fascinating. Futuristic police, use mind readers to predict tragedies and preemptively arrest offenders before they’ve had a chance to commit a crime. It sounds wonderful, but destroys human agency– maybe the murderer-to-be would make a better choice before actually hurting someone?
In a small way, I believe agency works this way. God lets us choose, and evil people seal their punishment with their own actions.
In Alma 14, “he doth suffer that they may do this thing… according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

No scripture, no insight or trite thought makes yesterday’s shootings OK. It was a horrible, senseless act of evil.  And I absolutely do NOT believe, as some people suggest, God concocts trials to improve our character. In my much smaller hurt, I know God did not want my heart broken, God is angry with the perpetrator, God did everything possible to prevent the heartache and my Father in Heaven mourns with me.

I’m offended when someone suggests God takes the life of little children to somehow make their parents better people. In fact, all the parents I know who have lost a child (and sadly I know many) were already extraordinarily loving compassionate insightful souls. They needed no lessons or losses to comprehend the worth of their child. Our Heavenly Father does not send us heartache, He simply allows it.

This I know. Every loss, every tear, every pain will be made up to us through Christ in the life to come. I don’t understand how, but I trust in Christ and I trust His promises. “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.” Isaiah 25:8

But for now, as we mourn, God weeps.
December 13, 2012
December 22, 2012



  1. jfb

    December 16, 2012

    I came across your blog a few months ago and added you to my reader. I was very moved – and comforted- by your words. Thank you.

  2. Tracy

    December 16, 2012


  3. Kristi Pohl

    December 16, 2012

    Michelle, I feel I know you so well through my dear friend Tracy, and today you have helped my heart. I am one of the many who has been railing against God these last hours, “How could you let this happen???” And your words, your beautiful words, begin the healing. Thank you, so very much.

  4. Ang

    December 17, 2012

    Beautiful, Michelle.

  5. Ritz Family

    December 17, 2012

    Beautiful. Thank you!

  6. Tasha

    December 17, 2012

    A perfect response to our recent tragedy. I am a little tired of people trying to blame the incident on gun control laws, bad parenting, or even anti-depressants (that last one made me angry). I hope our nation can learn to accept and learn from this tragedy.

    I know from Ruth how heartbreaking your trial was for everyone involved. My own heart breaks whenever I think of how you were all hurt. Thank you for being brave enough to share the lessons you learned; they are a blessing to us all.

  7. lisastassforth

    December 17, 2012

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. lisastassforth

    December 17, 2012

    Thank you for this post.

  9. Cath

    December 18, 2012

    Beautiful, Michelle.

  10. Annannann

    December 18, 2012

    I liked this. This explanation.
    But it doesn’t help.

    A falling tree, a sudden heart attack, a “flash of lightning”. God could have prevented this from happening.

    Additionaly, there are so many children dying these days with no humans to blame for. Babies dying after short lives full of pain and misery. How can He be both good and almighty, if he allows for all these tragedies?

    I feel like He just doesn’t care. And it breaks my heart.

  11. Anne Marie

    December 21, 2012

    This is absolutely perfect. Thank you for your thoughts and words. I cannot tell you how much your words and pictures inspire me. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here. I have loved seeing pictures of your Christmas traditions. Your home is so lovely…golden and inviting.

    It’s been a crazy month for me so I never got to responding to your previous post about digital devices. I wanted to shout “hooray!” when I read it. You wrote about the subject in such a tasteful, classy way, allowing room for others to feel different about the matter and figure out their own way of doing it. I deeply respect the kind of family you’re raising, and you’ve given younger parents confidence in making some unconventional, bold decisions in how they fit into mainstream culture while not embracing all that it offers. Thank you, thank you. Merry Christmas, Michelle.

  12. Kathryn

    December 24, 2012

    I loved this, Michelle. Thank you.

  13. Kathryn

    December 24, 2012

    Oops…I guess I’m signed in on Kate’s account. It’s actually Kerri. 🙂

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