In Loving Memory of Lost Children
Over the last two weeks, we have noted that nothing about death is good, yet God’s goodness remains, even when we are faced with death. This week, I hope we can see through the comfort of the Scriptures how much God truly cares about those plagued by the pain of loss.
God hears. God sees. God understands. God Cares.
When Hagar flees from Sarai, the angel of the Lord finds her in the wilderness and assures, “The Lord has listened to your affliction” (Genesis 16:11 ESV). Hagar responds to the Lord’s promises and instruction with a memorial name. “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me’” (Genesis 16:13 ESV). When Hagar again finds herself in a similar situation with a teenage Ishmael, she must make the difficult decision to watch her son die or let him die alone. Not only does God hear her, He hears “the voice of the boy” (Genesis 21:17 ESV). Several hundred years later, the Israelite slaves cry out for help as they suffer as under the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, who has also been attempting to murder their baby boys. Moses writes, “God heard their groaning…God saw the people of Israel—and God knew” (Exodus 2:24–25 ESV). There is more to God’s relationship with His creation than the fact that He sees man’s suffering and hears his cries, though.
Of the many ways Scripture describes God, it includes the fact that God is a father to His people. And not only does He see and hear their grief when parents lose a child, God fully understands. God watched His beloved, innocent Son die a criminal’s death at the filthy hands of envious hypocrites. And God did this to give those unholy, stubborn, death-welcoming men—that means all of us (remember Romans 5:12)—a chance to be beloved adopted children! It is not like God’s hands were tied, though.
A friend of mine once shared with me some insight as he and his wife faced the imminent death of their son: God understood his loss, but he had a hard time understanding God’s. He said if he had a chance to save his son, he would pay any price, go anywhere, do anything—just for a chance! The humbling thought, he said, was that God could have done any number of things to spare His Son, but He did not. Instead, God heard His Son’s cries as He watched Jesus’ unjust execution. You cannot tell me God does not understand the pain of death, and you cannot tell me He does not care.
No matter how we are suffering, our Father shines His light even in the darkest hour. There are few things in this life more heartbreaking than the death of a child; and no, there are absolutely no “right words” that can fill that void. There is One, however, who truly understands, a Father who hears the cries of grieving parents, who sees their broken spirits, and who cares with a love that caused Him to suffer more than man will ever comprehend. Whatever your sorrow may be, take it your Father and lean on the Lord.