My son is an alcoholic. He drinks so much that he blacks out and mentally and spiritually abuses his children. This has been going on for 15 years. My grandkids stopped praying because they said God has not helped them. They have prayed for years asking God to intervene. Help them. Help their Daddy. They ask me why God doesn’t help them? They tell me God is love. But where is the love? What do I tell them?
I’m so sorry to hear of your family’s difficulties. First, I must ask you a question. Are you certain that there is no physical abuse or worse? You are the best person to intervene and call Child Protective Services (CPS) if there is. I understand that mental/emotional/spiritual abuse would be very difficult to prove to CPS.
Why God allows bad things to happen to good people, particularly children is a question people have been asking probably since the beginning of time. Many like your grandchildren ask this with their cheeks still wet with tears. I understand that. Often the best place to find answers to questions, especially this one, is through the scriptures. In the scriptures, we see many good people that face all sorts of problems (including various forms of abuse.)
The pattern I see in the scriptures is that the Lord generally allows bad men to have their agency, and then He blesses the good person. Sometimes He rescues them. Sometimes He strengthens them, and sometimes He allows them to be released from their trials and return to Him. I will give you a couple examples,
Through the scriptures, many of God’s servants have been put in prison. Alma and Amulek were thrown in prison and later miraculously freed. (Alma 14). Joseph Smith was throw in prison, and felt as your grandchildren do, that the Lord had abandoned Him (so tell your grandchildren they are not alone in feeling confused, frustrated and alone.) In this case, the Lord comforted and strengthened Joseph, but He did not immediately rescue him. The Lord told Joseph that his suffering would be short and he would be rewarded for his suffering. (D&C 121-122). Jesus Christ was arrested, ‘imprisoned’ and put to death on the cross. From the cross, He cried out, “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
We live in a fallen world. Horrible things happen here and sometimes it’s hard to understand why God doesn’t stop the madness, but when I find myself asking that question (and I do) I remind myself that Christ allowed even Himself to suffer and die at the hands of evil men so that He could overcome the evil He did it and because He did, He has the power to help us in our trials. He has the power to help us turn the bad things that happen to us into something that makes us better people. He can heal our broken hearts and spirits.
I believe the Lord is always near to us in our adversity, even when like your grandchildren, or Joseph Smith, we don’t recognize that He is there. Remember the story of the road to Emmaus when the two disciples walked with the Savior and didn’t know it was Him? (Luke 24). This separation from God is part of this earthly experience. Elder Holland said it like this:
“When Adam and Eve willingly stepped into mortality, they knew this telestial world would contain thorns and thistles and troubles of every kind. Perhaps their most challenging realization, however, was not the hardship and danger they would endure but the fact that they would now be distanced from God, separated from Him with whom they had walked and talked, who had given them face-to-face counsel. After this conscious choice, as the record of creation says, “they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.”1Amidst all else that must have troubled them, surely this must have troubled them the most.” The Ministry of Angels
But even though they could not be in God’s presence, He didn’t leave them alone. Elder Holland says:
“But God knew the challenges they would face, and He certainly knew how lonely and troubled they would sometimes feel. So He watched over His mortal family constantly, heard their prayers always, and sent prophets (and later apostles) to teach, counsel, and guide them. But in times of special need, He sent angels, divine messengers, to bless His children, reassure them that heaven was always very close and that His help was always very near. Indeed, shortly after Adam and Eve found themselves in the lone and dreary world, an angel appeared unto them, who taught them the meaning of their sacrifice and the atoning role of the promised Redeemer who was to come.”
Please tell your grandchildren that they are not alone, even though they can’t see the Lord accompanying them. They are not alone in sending up prayers that seem unanswered. But the Lord is with them. He is sending His angels to watch over your grandchildren too. I mean that quite literally. As Elder Holland said:
“Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times . . . I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve,”
Throughout the history of the church, many of our leaders have spoken of angels and testified that they are our family members on the other side of the veil. The book, Angels: Agents of Light, Love and Power by Donald W. Parry has many of these quotes. Here are a few:
Elder James E. Talmage, “Do we realize that in our daily walk and work we are not alone, but that angels attend us wherever our duty causes us to go?”
Elder John A. Widtsoe: “Man is not alone; he walks in the midst of such heavenly company, from whom he may expect help if he seek it properly and strongly.”
President Harold B. Lee quoting Brigham Young said: ” . . . the spirit world is right here round about us, and if our spiritual eyes could be open, we could see others visiting with us, directing us.”
President Russel M. Nelson: “Remember, God’s holy angels are ever on call to help us.”
There are even more quotes in the book, Angels: Agents of Light, Love and Power, but I will stop with those.
My final counsel to you, Mindy, is to remember that perhaps the first evidence and witness of God’s love for your grandchildren is YOU. You are an angel to them. Do not underestimate the power of one person to bring light into the darkness. Elder Holland spoke of mortal angels too:
“I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. . . .
“I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. ‘[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.’ On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places . . . but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.”
Teach your grandchildren that Christ understands their suffering because He too suffered, and He is sending them angels.