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I think this interview with John Piper is very helpful on the question: what happens to infants who die? It can be a difficult, painful question for those of us who have suffered loss of a little one at any stage from conception onwards. Pastor John shares some biblical principles that are both comforting and clear.
You can also read a transcript of the interview at Desiring God Ministries here.
After that terrible, thundery Friday afternoon on 12th May 2006 when I lost Two and Three (and consequently all hope of having children of my own), I turned to my library of books for comfort. My Bible was my first port of call. As I’ve said earlier in this blog, for me it was vital to give God glory rather than blame Him and become bitter. So I purposefully echoed in my heart Job’s words after he lost all of his children (along with his home, all his possessions, his money and his health):
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.
I also turned to godly Christian writers who I respect and look up to, one of whom was Elisabeth Elliot. Although we have never met, her books have had a huge influence on my life and I consider her one of my spiritual mothers. Within one of her books was an article that comforted me greatly: A Tiny Treasure in Heaven. She shares the heartbreaking loss of her daughter and son-in-law Val and Walt when Val miscarried a wee daughter in her fourth month of pregnancy. Many years later, they still remember how ‘beautifully formed’ she was; tiny but perfect, fitting into the palm of a hand.
Article used by kind permission of the author, Elisabeth Elliot.
I have just read a heart-moving blog post by Mike Anderson, sharing four lessons he has learned from his precious new-born daughter, who is virtually blind. Mike has rediscovered wonderful truths about God – on a deeper level, and more real than ever before. Read it for yourself.
This article about children hearing from the Holy Spirit and interceding for children is amazing. The truth of the words of Psalm 8 verse 2 (From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger) is happening before our eyes. Read all about it here.
We need to realise and appreciate the high value God places on children. Many people consider children (and the Bible gives the unborn and the born the same status) to be insignificant. But they are anything but insignificant in God’s eyes. He knows them, values them and wants them to be His intimate friends.
Six years ago today my life was unwelcomely and irrevocably changed. Adrian and I were told that we would never have children naturally. The day before, my dad had been called Home to Glory.
For a long time I was stunned and grieved – grieved for the loss of my dad, grieved for the children we would never have, for the grandchildren we could never know.
But God was good through it all. And if you’re in a similar situation, He will be good to you too. You will get through it. ‘…And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.’
A Christian called Robert Robinson had this inscribed on the gravestone of a child he had lost:
Bold infidelity, turn pale and die,
Beneath this stone an infant’s ashes lie -
Say, is it lost or saved?
If death’s by sin, it sinned, for it lies here.
If heaven’s by works, in heaven it can’t appear.
O reason, who depraved!
Revere the sacred page – the knot’s untied;
It died, for Adam sinned;
It lives, for Jesus died.
The first child in the Bible to be named by God while he was still in the womb is Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar. His name is amazing. In Hebrew it is made up of three parts: ‘I’ = the Eternal, ‘shma’ = to hear, and ‘El’ = Lord. Ishmael was a man who God heard, and who was blessed by God.
It is God the Holy Spirit who gives physical (as well as spiritual) life. Psalm 104:30 says: ‘When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the ground.’ And Job 34:14-15 says: ‘If He should set His heart to it and gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together; and man would return to dust.’
Taking into account also the fact that it is God who knits us together in the womb, and knows us even before we were conceived, we should be very careful not to interfere with the crowning glory of His creation: human beings.