Monday, October 15, 2007

Safe in the Arms of God: Remembering One of Our Children

by Doug Smith

I share this in hopes that it might encourage someone or encourage you to encourage someone. I share it particularly because miscarriages are far more common than many people realize, in part because people don't talk about it much. They don't know what to say or think that it's best to forget it, not understanding that those who have lost a child, whether before or after birth, need to grieve. I do not share my experience with the idea that I understand everything someone who has lost a child has gone through, or to give the impression that I have all the answers. But I do share it to point you to the hope we have in God, and remind us of the need we have in the body of Christ to not only rejoice with those who rejoice, but weep with those who weep.

This month, my wife and I remember one of our children who is not with us. We had no opportunity to know this child, as we experienced a miscarriage 5 to 6 weeks into the pregnancy. If carried to term, the child would have been born this month two years ago.

I remember my wife sharing her suspicion with me that she had lost the baby. In my calculating, logical way, I remained emotionless about the matter, thinking that there was no way to know until we went to the doctor, so we should not prematurely come to a conclusion. We might find out tomorrow that everything is fine, so I reasoned. I felt like I needed to cry with my wife, but somehow did not have it in me at the time. I felt completely inadequate. Things were different the next day, when we went to the doctor and he told us the news that we had indeed lost our child. I was then able to weep with her.

Our pastor at the time came over with his wife to see us on the day our loss was confirmed by the doctor. They had suffered a stillbirth, and encouraged us to name our baby, something they had done. We named the child Shannon (meaning: God's gracious gift) Bennett (meaning: little blessed one) since those names express how we feel about the child and would be appropriate for a boy or a girl (and we do not know which Shannon is).

We have hurt and do hurt because of this loss, but we rejoice that Shannon will never know anymore suffering in an earthly body, that Shannon will never consciously commit actual intentional sin, and that Shannon is forever worshiping at the throne of God. We have hope to see this child again because of the salvation God has given us by grace through faith only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have been especially comforted by these passages from the Bible:

  • After losing his children and riches, Job said "The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21b)
  • After the death of his infant son, David said "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:23b)
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

I found John MacArthur's book, Safe in the Arms of God (Thomas Nelson, 2003), to be a helpful resource (I later found out that one lady gives copies to our local hospital to give away to mothers who lose a child and would like to have the book; I think it's a good one for pastors to have on hand as well). A significant part of the book deals with where born and unborn children go when they die. Likewise, Al Mohler and Danny Akin wrote an article entitled "The Salvation of the 'Little Ones': Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?" Spurgeon preached a sermon related to this issue on September 29, 1861, entitled "Infant Salvation" Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (London, 1861), p. 505, which Mohler cites. These three resources come from men who have a robust belief in the sovereignty of God, and conclude from their reading of Scripture that these little ones are indeed safe in the arms of God.

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