Summary: #7 in series on Eternity. This sermon deals with the fate of children who die before the "age of accountability.
“Eternity: What Awaits After Death”
Sermon # 7
“What About the Children?”
For the last six weeks we have been exploring the subject of “Eternity: What Awaits After Death.” It is one thing to talk about the death of adults but what about the children. Surely one of the most heartbreaking events a person can experience is the death of a child. And when this happens we are faced with the question, “What about the children who die before they are old enough to make a decision for themselves? And what of those who are mentally disabled and therefore incapable of making such a decision. What happens to them?”
This message is for all those who have lost a baby and for all those of you who will be called upon to minister to someone who has lost a baby. If someone were to ask you, “Is My Baby In Heaven?” how would you respond? If you haven’t faced that question yet, no doubt you will. As believers we are tempted to simply answer, “They are in Heaven!” But do we have or could we give any Scriptural justification for such a belief.
John MacArthur in his book “Safe In Arms of Jesus” discusses the responses given to a couple that had lost a baby. The response should make our skin crawl and we should cringe at the callousness of some of responses. First, he points out that very few of their friends and neighbors ever mentioned the birth of the baby to the couple. Which is bad in itself, most people need reassurance that their child mattered in the lives of others. They want to talk about their child they just don’t want to make you uncomfortable. Saying the child’s name does not bring anything to their minds that they have not thought of! This is the part of their life. If they cry, don’t be uncomfortable, hurt with them.
The wife of one couple that came to visit to the young mother said, “It was for the best, dear. It’s best you forget this ever happened. We don’t need to talk about it again.” Another woman said to her, “It’s too bad you let the baby get so cold.” The young mother said up to that point she had not even considered that her baby’s death might some-how be her fault. Do the things we say, make those who are suffering, suffer more?
But the young mother said that the worst thing that was said to her was not something said to her but something that she overheard being say to her husband, “God must not have wanted your wife to have a daughter.” My what a callous and cold-hearted thing to say
“This young couple’s family, friends and church family ought to have comforted them with answers from the Bible rather than questions about why God allowed the child to die and whether they were in some way to blame.” [John MacArthur. “Safe In the Arms of God: Truth From Heaven About The Death Of A Child. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003) pp. 9-10]
Let me give a little advice to those who are called to minister to the grieving, weigh your words carefully. Some of the things that I want to say apply to those who are grieving the loss of a child or those who are grieving the loss of some other loved one. Just because things are true, does not mean they need to be said. Some times in trying to say something spiritually helpful we are just insensitive.
Some attempt to offer comforting words like, “God has a plan” or “God will really use your testimony,” or “It must have been Gods will.” Like hearing that will make them want to stop grieving now. Yes, it is Gods will, but that doesn’t make it pretty, or fun. Jesus death was horrific, it was terrifying, it was unimaginably painful, it was not ok. It was not wonderful; it was wondrous. Nothing takes that pain from the cross. The resurrection was a separate action and very much a wonderful event, an event that gives us hope of a future in heaven with Christ.
Since this is a tragedy that our family has just experienced with the death of little Aubrey our first grandchild I asked my daughter Nikki to read what I had written and to give me her input, which she graciously did. She wrote of this experience when she said, “Aubrey’s death was horrible, nothing changes that. Anything good that comes from this will be a separate miracle, a grace of God. Any comfort I can give another grieving mother, or any encouragement I can be, is a miracle apart from her death, it does not lessen it in any way, shape, or form. I needed to be reminded of that. It resounded with my heart. I will never look back on this and say it was good. I will never be able to say that I would have chosen this way, I will never agree with this part of the plan. But maybe someday, I will be able to see the separate miracles, the graces along the way that are good. I will grieve, and I will go through the pain, not around it. I will not pretend like it didn’t hurt. I will endure the pain and let God do this thing in me, whatever this thing is. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll come through this time looking a little bit more like Jesus.”