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Saffie Rose was only eight. Its easy to imagine the overflowing exuberance as she and her mum exited with the thronging crowd at 10:30pm Manchester time. You’ve probably seen her photo and noted her smiling innocence – a selfie taken just before the Ariana Grande concert – Saffie’s first and last concert.

Youngest Victim

They didn’t hear the explosion – just its devastating effects. As Saffie lay dying, cradled in the arms of a first-aider, she called out for her mum.

She was the youngest of the twenty two victims of a terrorist’s bomb.

Bolts. Nuts. Nails. Embedded into the bodies of the injured.

Where was God at Manchester?

Sandy Hook

The town of Newtown, Connecticut was reeling from the senseless slaughter of twenty first-graders and six of their teachers and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. First. Graders. Twenty.

The weekend after Christmas 2012, Philip Yancey was invited to address the community.

Yancy is the author of Disappointment With God – a book chronicling the trauma of unexpected tragedy and chronic suffering. He’s become a go-to guy for answers to life’s horrendous suffering.

A final question came from the audience on his last night in Newtown, and it was the one he most did not want to hear: “Will God protect my child?”

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz – RTX10O9G

A Loving God

Yancey stayed silent for what seemed like minutes. More than anything he wanted to answer with authority, “Yes! Of course God will protect you. Let me read you some promises from the Bible.” He knew, though, that behind him on the same platform, twenty six candles were flickering in memory of victims, proof that we have no immunity from the effects of a broken planet.

At last he said, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t promise that.”

God provides support and solidarity, yes, but not protection – at least not the kind of protection we desperately long for.

A loving God evidently prefers not to prevent every instance of evil or natural disaster, no matter how grievous.

No Sense

When I think of Saffie – and think of her I must or face the imminent danger of becoming numbed and apathetic towards evil – I recall the story of a young mom and the death of her infant.

She went to her church, seeking solace through the eucharist. The officiating priest, recognizing her and being aware of her loss, whispered to her before offering her communion, “God had nothing to do with the death of your baby.”

She hissed back at him, “Then I want nothing to do with God.”

With such heartbreaking loss, God’s involvement was all that she could cling to. Indifference or impotence were unacceptable in deity.

A Jewish woman – Renee Rachel Black and a Muslim man – Sadiq Patel react next to floral tributes in Albert Square in Manchester, Britain May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Stubborn Hope

We have only the stubborn hope – so different from naive optimism – that the story of Jesus, which includes both death and resurrection, gives a bright clue to what God will do for the entire planet.

What did God have to do with Manchester?

Everything. The evil and the good.

The symbol of the cross of Jesus – the instrument of torturous death – adorns churches and is worn around the necks of millions of believers as young or younger than Saffie.

Jesus holds outs the love of God in a broken world. “Dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away, rising He justified, freely forever.”

APPLICATION: Trust God. Hold your loved ones tight. Restore broken relationships. Overcome evil with good. Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment below.

I write to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 44 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vincent and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers


  • Karen Ehrenholz says:

    “A loving God evidently prefers not to prevent every instance of evil or natural disaster, no matter how grievous.” …this is hard love, Pastor…so difficult to get our earthly mind around, our perspective is so limited…His is eternal. We know that God is able to intervene and prevent tragedy with one word from his mouth…but remains silent at times, not willing to violate His gift of free will. We may never understand His purpose in allowing such tragedies… the question for us is, will we trust Him anyway…without knowing the why? Mat. 10:29-31, ” Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s will. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. “. I have had to trust the Lord through pain and suffering…He is worthy, faithful and true….we need to remember, He is love.

  • Bob Jones says:

    Hi Karen. Your words are thoughtful – “difficult to get our earthly mind around” – it is one of those “hard love” aspects of God. I like math. I like 1 + 1 = 2. Its comforting to think that if a follower of God prays for protection from harm or evil that they will be protected. Only bad people will have bad things happen to them. Not so. To give you and me free will God has to allow freedom for both good and evil. To eradicate evil would include eradicating the sin that is in all people.
    I think there are more instances than we can ever know where God stepped in to prevent evil from happening (even in your life and mine). We are shocked by the instances where He did not step in. There are more instances of good done by what we may deem to be “evil” or “bad” people than we could believe. This is a conundrum to us – its seems so arbitrary, but it is the wisdom of God.
    This should not stop us from praying, “Lord, deliver us from evil. Watch over us and lead us beside still waters. Protect our loved ones.”
    Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Allan Mah says:

    How true it is Pastor. We have to remember, God gave human free will and we just have to trust Him with his plan for all of us.

  • L Sandrowski says:

    Of Course we have a Loving God!, and of COurse he was there.! This is a sheer act of Satan! Of Evil! why are we pointing fingers at God? God Gives us a free will, and has so much purpose for us, and eternal life. HOw can we ever repay the debt that he paid for us, but yet we demand and expect things when things go wrong , and then we say? why wasn’t God there? We don’t always know the reasons why he lets innocent children die? or even loved ones. This is not for us to judge. God has a reason for everything, and we need to trust him in his plan.!

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you for commenting. Not pointing fingers at God. In some small acknowledging the heartache of a God who loves His creation so much to give us free will and sees some make evil choices.

  • Carole Schlachta says:

    I have read all comments. When my Father dropped dead in front of me when I was 10 yrs. My Mom had been married 13 yrs. My Mom grieved for 11 years until her first grandchild was born. I saw her deep sorrow change to joy. She drew closer to God.
    I recently and suddenly lost my husband of 56 years of marriage. The grieving pain is still the same. I know everything is relavent. But I don’t like.
    I’m waiting until God brings my joy back.
    The one thing I know is that God has felt the pain with the death of His Son, Jesus. And look what He has given us. Eternal life if we go to Him. My Mom is with Him now and my Dad. That is going to be my story one day. My husband is gone suddenly after 56 years of marriage. I know my grief will change to joy when I see my Lord and my husband again.
    My question is how long? Dear God.

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