Just as I laid my head on a pillow for the evening, I received a text message from my sister. She said she had come down with a fever, and asked for prayer. She was entering her 23rd week of pregnancy, and though up till now she had no problems, she knew even a small fever could change everything…and it did.
No words can adequately relay the thoughts and emotions of our hearts. The first grandbaby, the first child, the first nephew, the little boy that had already been named and loved and sang to and read to and dreamed about and planned for - him, our precious and long-awaited gift from God. So what was happening? This wasn’t our plan. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
A few hours later my sister, through excruciating physical and emotional pain, delivered this precious little baby boy before our eyes. He looked perfect to us, with 10 long fingers, 10 little toes and two precious ears. As quickly as he came he left the room for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with doctors and nurses surrounding him.
Though the future was ominous, we celebrated this new little life and joy given to us. I picked out a “It’s a Boy!” balloon while my mom found a baby-blue teddy bear. As we arrived back to the hospital room from the gift shop the NICU doctor asked to speak with everyone. She calmly and compassionately told us in no uncertain terms that Peter Alexander would never be coming home with us. Though dehydrated already from shedding so many tears, we cried like babies ourselves. We didn’t want him to leave; he just got here. We hadn’t had time to teach him how to go to the potty, how to throw a ball, how to pray, how to say “yes, ma’am”, how to treat girls, or how to choose a career. We had done none of those yet.
The nurses escorted us to the NICU where little Peter lay quietly, having all kinds of tubes and ports and vials attached to his petite body. His parents held him softly yet firmly in their arms, stroking his soft skin, rubbing his hairy head, and bathing him with tears of pure parental love. We took pictures of this special moment - the first-born son with his first-time parents - it was a beautiful yet fleeting moment. He came into this world too early and was going to leave it too early. I watched his little body, gently held in his father’s big, strong arms take its last gasp of air as his soul departed to be in His Heavenly Father’s Everlasting Arms.
So, with our arms empty and hearts broken, what will we say to these things? We have so many questions and so much confusion. So many thoughts and so many lies swim around in our heads and in this sin-stained, Satan-reigning world in which we live our lives. But there is one place we can go to find everlasting truth and a comfort that surpasses all comprehension. Yes, it’s found in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in His written word, the infallible and sufficient Bible.
Finding Truth and Comfort from the Bible
God’s original creation and organization of the world did not consist of death. No, God hates death even more than you do! Death came as a consequence of the sin of mankind, brought into this world by the first man, Adam (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12).
One day there will be no more death
God is actively and sovereignly making all things new. He’s not only redeeming sinners unto himself, but also the whole world! At some point in the future lions and lambs will cuddle together and we’ll never mourn or go to any more funerals (Revelation 21:1-6). The world will be back as it should be, as God originally created it to be.
Jesus sympathizes with our sorrows
Jesus was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Just skim one of the Gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John and you’ll quickly see that His life, from beginning to end, was full of heartache and suffering. He can “sympathize with our weaknesses…One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He, too, faced trials and lies, and wept at the death of people he loved (John 11:35)…yet never sinned. He went to the Truth of God to find comfort and strength, as we, too, should go to the Bible and pray to Him for help.
Death is conquered
“‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’…but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)! By grace through faith in Jesus we and our loved ones can have the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). This world is not all there is - the greatest and unimaginable joy and happiness is found in heaven, where our Christian loved ones and babies now reside. They are not mourning leaving us or the pleasures of earth, for there are no tears in heaven, no sadness, no pain, only total excitement and unfathomable rejoicing in their complete salvation! They are anxiously waiting when we can join them in paradise and worship God together. But those of us who are left on this earth do mourn and ache, but we must mourn only for ourselves.
God is sovereign over life and death
God is sovereign over everything that happens on earth and in heaven. He chooses where the rain will fall, who will win the battles and has even numbered our days of life (Job 14:5). Nothing happens - and no one dies - without God's permission. Remember, though, that God is the giver of life and is completely good (Psalm 5:4). As we read from Scripture, sin brought death into this world; God only sovereignly allows (as well as restricts) sin, death, and Satan to exist on earth.
Mourning is a teaching time
God allows the death of friends and family for our sanctification (i.e. the action of becoming more Christ-like/holy)(Romans 8:28) and for His glory. As any Christian will attest, mourning and trials will produce more searching through Scripture and prayer to Jesus than any sunny, carefree day on the beach. As the Apostle Paul so eloquently put it,
“[God] has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak [in myself], then I am strong [in Christ].” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“’For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,…It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline…then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” Hebrews 12:6-8
Jesus love me, this I know
God’s love is seen all around us –
We should not doubt it
“What then shall we say to [sin/death/hardships]?...He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over [to the cross to give us eternal life], how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32
“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:33-35, 37-39
We must be mindful that our loss is only measured by the enormous blessing he/she was from God! He gifted that person to us out of His goodness, mercy and love toward us. We did not deserve their friendship or love, but God graciously gave them to us, and we should thank Him.
“‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’” Job 1:21