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 will wipe away tears from off all faces.” Isaiah 25:8
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;
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.
But for now, as we mourn, God weeps.