Not a tool of God

Not a tool of God January 4, 2012


I never know what to say when they say it to me. Usually I just sit there, my stomach churning, my spirit bouncing off my insides like a squash ball.

Karly Sheehan would turn ten today, if she had lived.

But she didn’t.

She died.

Murdered by a man so big and so mean and so evil Karly didn’t have a fighting chance.

She did as he threatened her to do, like most all three-year-olds would.

She didn’t scream. She didn’t tattle.

She just took the beatings, over and over again.

Until her body gave out.

They tell me that God intervened on her behalf.

I know they mean well.

I know it brings them peace to say it.

I also know it’s a lie.

How can it be that God would will a child tortured to death?

It goes against everything we know about the character of God.

We say these things because we have to. Because we can’t explain how it is a good and loving God would allow for the torture of children.

What we ought to be doing is asking ourselves, how is it good and loving people allow for child abuse in a nation that creates public policy on the basis of family values?

But if we tell ourselves that God took her home to be with him, then we don’t have to feel so bad.

We can say that she’s at peace.

In heaven with God.

Praise Jesus. Hallelujah.

And her killer is behind bars, studying the Word of God.

Praise Jesus. Amen.

And I sit wondering, wouldn’t it be a more peaceful world if Karly were here eating cake and ice cream on her tenth birthday and her torturer dead and burning in hell?

If you use their arguments, the ones in which they tell themselves and others that God is in complete control and that Karly’s death was all part of some grand master plan, then does that mean God uses child abuse to accomplish his will?


That whole predestined thing.

Child abuse is not a tool of God.

It’s a man-made hell.

And the only cure for it is us.

If I know anything about God, and it’s entirely possible that I don’t know anything of Him, I know this — God expects better from us.

He expects us to take care of the children.

Shaken babies aren’t called home by God.

They are murder victims.

God wasn’t rescuing Karly.

He was storming the heavens wondering why in the hell we weren’t doing better by her and the thousands like her?

Karly may indeed be spending her tenth birthday in the arms of Jesus, but surely God would have taken more delight in watching her spend this day in the arms of her earthly father.

That’s what I think.

But then, maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe I don’t know squat about what God thinks.

Maybe none of us do.

I suspect if we knew, if we really understood the heart of God toward children, we’d do better by them, don’t you?

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of  A SILENCE OF MOCKINGBIRDS: The Memoir of a Murder. MacAdam/Cage, April, 2012.


“Karen Spears Zacharias has written a compassionate and comprehensive story of how abuse affects us all.” Sara O’Meara, Chairman & CEO and Yvonne Gedderson, President of CHILDHELP.


A Silence of Mockingbirds was truly an addictive read…I took off work to finish it!  In typical Karen Zacharias fashion, it is impeccably researched, extremely well-written and uniquely told.  It reads like a murder mystery…  It is an important, affecting book about child abuse that I wasn’t sure I could read at first, but then couldn’t put down.” Karin Wilson, owner, Page & Palette Bookstore, Fairhope, Alabama.


“Riveting. Brilliantly plotted. I couldn’t put it down. Heart-wrenching and heart-breaking. Karen Spears Zacharias is at her best as a seasoned investigative reporter. She paints a vivid and personal portrait of a system that too often fails the most innocent, children. With a deft touch, insightful writing and vivid details she sheds light on a problem that can no longer be ignored in the wake of the Casey Anthony trial.  A SILENCE OF MOCKINGBIRDS will fill your eyes with tears, make you mad, and hopefully make you act.

– New York Times Bestselling author Robert Dugoni/Bodily Harm


The Silence of Mockingbirds is an important book.  The message has stayed with me.  We are all family.  And when our instincts become perverted, we fail to do the right thing.  This true story shines a laser beam on how children are failed in America by the very systems and people that exist to protect them.  Shame on us!


-Wanda Jewell Executive Director Southeast Independent Booksellers Association SIBA













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  • Ramona

    Karen, I spent many years working to protect the children. I could not agree more with the notion that we must do better. I am, however, conflicted. While I agree that Karly was taken far too soon, I do believe that there are things worse than death. It does not diminish my passion for justice or need to protect to believe that Karly was rescued from the torment of her abuse. I, too, may know nothing of God, but believe that he is infinitely wise and knows his business. Faith in that keeps me going. The lessons learned may be part of his business. I don’t know. Here’s to doing a better job of protecting our little ones.

  • Jcrabe56

    One thing I do know Karen, God used fb to reunite us!!! I am beginning to believe that being raised in Muscogee County has something to do with how we feel about children and those in need. Remember Roger Wall…..told me a story yesterday about an abused Mother of 3 boys that works with him that he and some other employees provided Christmas for their family. It seems that I keep hearing similar stories over and over from my Columbus friends. While it makes me extremely sad that these situations exist it also makes me proud to have friends who don’t just talk and write about these issues but actually do something to help. I know I keep saying it but I am so proud you are my friend and cannot wait to read your new book….and I love the fact that you continue to fight for everything you believe in!!! BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN OUR WORLD!! Ghandi

  • Sherwood8028

    “And the only cure for it is us.” You are right-on.

    Those others might indeed by wrong, but are asked to be the salt, the savor that brings out the best in our appetites.

  • Sharon O

    You are so right on the button. child abuse is evil. The abusers should get everything they deserve and more. There will be a severe punishment for them some day if not here on earth later when they meet God and have to give an account for what they had done. God help us if we ever become immune or desentized to the evil people around us.

  • Cathy

    I believe you are right , Karen. We are responsible to protect all ( children, disabled , elderly, anyone who needs the help). Turning a blind eye is evil in my opinion. 31 years , I worked in the Oregon Welfare office….no blind eye…even my own family was not left untouched. When you are hired at D.H.S., you become a mandatory reporter. I believe we should all step up to the plate & protect our most vulnerable citizens. I’m retired, but I will always report abuse. I believe turning a blind eye, allows for many evils in this world!!!!