How To Lean On God When Losing A Baby
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8
Nothing can be more devastating in life that for a woman to carry an infant for almost nine months and then lose that child, or to have an infant snatched from her arms in death. That’s when the question, “Why?” is poured out in scalding tears and agony.
“Why, God? Why my baby?” Is God indifferent to the pain that parents face at the loss of a child, whether the child is a newborn infant on a little tyke of four or five years of age. There are times when a child dies and there is no apparent reason for this to happen.
In his book Safe in the Arms of God, which I consider to be the finest book on the subject ever compiled, Dr. John MacArthur quotes an article about the death of infants, telling of the reactions of parents to the great loss, sometimes totally unexpected. Sixty percent of the parents felt anger and that anger is usually directed at God whom they feel could have prevented the loss. Fifty percent of the fathers and ninety percent of the mothers felt guilt. Seventy-five percent were irritable. Sixty-five to eighty percent of the parents lost their appetite for food and eighty to ninety percent had difficulty sleeping and ninety-five percent felt profound and deep sadness.[i]
When this happens there are two questions in the minds of parents and loved ones: The first is, “Why?” And usually it is “Why my baby?” and the second is “Where is my baby now?” While we will never fully understand until we cross heaven’s threshold, there are passages of Scripture that provide comfort in the time of grief.
Perhaps you will recall the event that is recorded in 1 Samuel 12 where David fathered a child by Bathsheba–something that was displeasing to the Lord. After the child was born, the infant became ill and weaker and weaker. David prostrated himself before God, wept bitterly and lay on the ground pleading with God. But on the seventh day, the child died. After the infant died, David arose, bathed, and dressed. Then he went to the house of the Lord and worshipped. When asked why he was doing this, he replied, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me that the child may live? But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me?” (2 Samuel 12:22-23). Notice if you would the last statement–“I shall go to him, but he will not return to me?’
In this regard, the Bible is very clear. I’m in complete agreement with John MacArthur who writes, “The Bible is very clear on this point: Life begins at conception. Any death that occurs after the moment of conception is the death of a person. And persons have eternal souls.” (MacArthur, 14).
There are times when it is very difficult to see the Father’s hand, and that is when you have to trust the Father’s heart. God told Jeremiah the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Having had the sober responsibility of officiating memorial services for several infants whose lives were cut short, I can tell you only the Holy Spirit, the one who brings the comfort of God the Father can assuage grief and give strength to move on.
God is not indifferent to our pain. Remember, He also had a son who died, but His son rose from the dead giving us hope and assurance that we will someday join those whom we have lost in heaven.
Resource reading: Psalms 34:17-19
[i] John MacArthur, Safe in the Arms of God (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003) 11.