As I have contemplated America's Newtown tragedy and the prevention of a tragedy in my own family as of late, I have contemplated, with many others, the whys and wherefores of terribly occurrences. Why, in some circumstances, does God allow innocent children and teachers to be massacred? Why, in other circumstances, does God prevent terrible things from happening?
I don't have all of the answers (who of the human race does, really?), but I do know that there is at least one if not two eternal laws at play.
The first is agency. In my faith, we believe that God operates in accordance with eternal laws, and that if He violated these laws, He would actually cease to be God. He therefore allows me--or, in other words, does not interfere--when I make bad choices. Sometimes, my choices are worse than at other times. How awful and yet awesome it is that God continually watches us make choices that cause suffering in ourselves and others, has the power to intervene, and yet respects us and allows us with lovingkindness to make such bad choices? He allows this in all of his children. It is part of the plan of happiness--to learn to fall and get back up through the aid of the Savior.
If we continually make bad choices, then the use of agency--of His non-intervention--in terrible circumstances allows His ultimate justice to be just. Hellfire is a serious thing, and it should be applied only where absolutely necessary. He mercifully allows us enough space to repent before condemning us to such pain and misery. But sometimes, He needs to allow us to fulfill our evil intent with action in order that his judgments and condemnation be perfectly just, again according to eternal laws.
Yet, as I have contemplated tragedies that affect the one and the many, I believe there is another principle or law at play related to agency as to whether God allows a tragedy to occur, and that is one of faithful prayer. Without contravening the law of agency, somehow, the Lord can be moved to action when agency is applied in faithful prayer to prevent tragedies. I have seen this so many times in my own life and the lives of loved ones. Specific, faith-filled prayer can somehow set God and His angels of mercy into action in ways that they could not otherwise have been permitted to do were it not for those prayers.
Such was the case for Book of Mormon prophet Alma the Younger when his father's prayers prevented him from continuing his wayward course. Such has been the case in my life when the prayers of my parents have given them such clear revelation as to stop me in my errant course (I have never had the habit of waywardness, but do need correction from time to time!). And perhaps such it has been in the course of a loved one recently prevented from tragedy where others are not.
I believe in the prayers of loved ones as sources of blessings in my life. I know I and others have been prevented from tragedy multiple times. I am grateful that this has stimulated the Lord's intervention in my life. I also am grateful that somehow, in His perfection, the Lord can simultaneously respect my agency and allow me to choose the bitter so that I can eventually know the sweet.