The first thought that came to mind when I heard about what happened to those young Powell boys was probably similar to what most were thinking:
How could God let this happen? Why? Doesn’t he care about his children — especially his most precious, innocent little ones?
After shedding some tears and battling between fury, shock and grief, I decided to turn to the only one I knew understood this situation — and how to heal it — perfectly: my Heavenly Father.
I do not wish to re-hash the awful details about this tragedy or get into a discussion about the mental stability, motives or fateful consequences of Josh Powell. Instead, I wanted to share with you some thoughts and scriptures that have been helpful to me as I’ve turned inward and upward for solace, answers and renewed courage despite the evil running rampant in our world today.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said this regarding God’s gift of agency:
“Moral agency is a vital element in our Father in heaven’s plan of happiness. He understood that some of his spirit children would use that agency improperly, causing serious problems to others. Some would even violate sacred trust, such as a father or family member abusing an innocent child. Since our Heavenly Father is completely just, there has to be a way of overcoming the tragic consequences of such damaging use of agency for both the victim and the perpetrator. That secure healing comes through the power of the Atonement of his beloved son, Jesus Christ, to rectify that which is unjust.”
Because of God’s complete, perfect love for his children, he allows us to make choices. We can find comfort knowing that God will bring to justice those who have harmed his beloved children.
“Know that the Lord Jesus Christ is completely aware of your sins,” Elder Scott went on to say. “He has warned: ‘Whoso shall offend one of these little ones it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea’ (Matthew 18:6)."
In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:24-27, I learned more about the judgment of the wicked:
“Whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.”
Perhaps one of my favorite scriptures that shows God’s love for his children is in 3 Nephi 17:11-25. To summarize:
“And it came to pass that he commanded that their little children should be brought and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them And when he had done this he wept again;
“And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones. And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.”
John Bytheway said in his talk “5 Scriptures That Will Help You Get Through Almost Anything”:
“Early in the Book of Mormon, an angel asks Nephi a tough question, 'Knowest thou the condescension of God?' Nephi answers, 'I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things' (1 Nephi 11:16–17). Nephi’s answer is a perfect statement for us to remember in times of trial. We don’t know the meaning of all things. We don’t have all the answers to explain all the tragedies in the world and in our own neighborhoods. However, we know, we are sure, that God loves his children.”
We battle evil every day. It exists, but so does light and goodness and love.
May we have courage to keep the faith and be fiercely vigilant in protecting and loving God’s precious children.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment, faith and family for the Deseret News.