The death of a child is one of the most painful experiences for a parent. In times of tragedy, many find comfort in understanding what the Bible says about such loss. This blog post will examine key scriptures in the Bible that relate to the death of children and provide guidance, hope and reassurance to grieving parents.
The loss of a child goes against the natural order of life. As parents, we expect to pass on before our children, not the other way around. When a child dies, it leaves parents with a tremendous emptiness and sense of unfairness. Many ask “Why?” and struggle to make sense of such a tragedy.
It is normal and understandable to grieve the loss deeply. However, the Bible provides comfort, hope and perspective for those navigating these troubled waters of the soul. While we may never fully comprehend the mysteries of life and death this side of eternity, Scripture points to several key truths:
- God mourns with us in our grief and heartache. We are not alone.
- Children belong to God – he cares deeply for them. Their lives and souls are safe with him
- Our children are not truly lost, but waiting for us in eternity
- We will see our children again in heaven one day
- God is sovereign over life and death, even when we don’t understand
- God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours. We trust in his wisdom and love.
- This fallen world is only temporary – we await an eternity free of pain and death
In this comprehensive article, we will explore each of these concepts in depth and examine what the Bible reveals about God’s heart towards children and his character in times of tragedy. Even in the darkest valley of losing a child, may these biblical truths bring some light and hope.
God Mourns With Us
One of the most difficult parts of losing a child is feeling so alone in grief. However, the Bible is clear that God mourns with us. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, even though he knew he was about to resurrect him (John 11:35). He feels sympathy for our weaknesses and suffering, having experienced the pains of earthly life himself (Hebrews 4:15).
King David had a child die in infancy. He initially fasted and wept while the child was alive, pleading with God for mercy. After the child passed, his servants did not understand David’s shift in reaction as he got up, cleaned up, and ate food. David explained “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell 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 shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23).
Though David could not bring his baby back, he took comfort knowing he would see his child again in the afterlife. He turned to God in his grief. We too can turn to God for comfort, knowing he feels and understands our sorrow. The Creator mourns with the creature. We are not alone in this valley of grief.
Children Belong to God
The Bible teaches that children are a blessing from God and belong to him. Parents are stewards for a time, but ultimately every child is God’s child.
The Psalmist writes “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). What a gift to parent and pour into a young soul. Even if that time is cut short, it was blessed time together.
In Matthew 19, people brought their little children to Jesus to place his hands on them and pray over them. The disciples rebuked those who brought them, but Jesus said, “‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And he laid his hands on them and went away.” (Matthew 19:14-15).
Jesus welcomed children with open arms. He did not ignore them as insignificant, but saw each one as important to the Kingdom of God. As he walked the road to the cross in Jerusalem shortly after this event, the crowds laid down palm branches and their cloaks shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!”. Jesus answered “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:37-40). All of creation testifies to Christ – even the small and the silent.
In God’s eyes, every child matters immensely. His purposes for each one extend far beyond the limits of our understanding. We can rest assured knowing every child is safe in the arms of Jesus.
Our Children Wait For Us in Eternity
For those who have received salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, death is not the end. Physical death ushers the believer into the direct presence of God in paradise. The apostle Paul said “to be absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
When King David lost the child from his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, he took comfort in the knowledge He would one day join his son beyond the grave. Though he could not bring him back, David knew he could go to be with him in the afterlife (2 Samuel 12:22-23).
The prophet Samuel appeared from the afterlife alongside Moses when Jesus took Peter, James and John up the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3). If Samuel was still conscious and communicative after death thousands of years later, surely children who pass from this life dwell in paradise with God as well.
While we grieve the temporary loss of them from our earthly lives, our children reside safely in eternity. We need not worry about their wellbeing. We can find hope knowing that we will join them one day.
Paul says to encourage one another with this truth – that those who died in Christ will be the first to rise when Christ returns. “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
At the return of Christ, we will witness this great reunion as God’s children are resurrected in glory. Though we hate being apart from them now, we can cling to the promise of seeing them again for eternity.
God is Sovereign Over Life and Death
Though the death of a child seems senseless, the Bible teaches that God remains sovereign even in awful tragedies. He holds power over life and death. When David’s child was struck with illness after his birth, David pleaded with God for his life (2 Samuel 12:16). He recognized God’s authority in the matter.
After four days of fasting and prayer, the child passed away. David’s servants were afraid to tell him, but David understood that it was ultimately God’s decision to take the child.
David never cursed God in his grief. He said, “While the child was 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).
Though David did not understand God’s purposes, he trusted in God’s wisdom and sovereignty. He submitted to it in faith, knowing God’s way is perfect.
When God took the lives of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu for offering unauthorized fire before the Lord, Moses told Aaron: “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: ‘Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’” Aaron remained silent (Leviticus 10:1-3).
As painful as their deaths were, Aaron trusted God’s sovereignty and goodness even when he did not fully comprehend it. His worship of God continued, as did the priestly service for the nation of Israel.
The natural human reaction is to ask “Why?” when a child dies. Yet as believers, we can trust that God has purposes beyond what we can see and understand in our limited human perspective. His ways are higher than ours. We believe that his unseen purposes are just, righteous, and perfectly loving even when life feels crushingly unfair.
Though he slays us, still we can trust him. He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. When we cannot trace his hand, we can fully trust his heart towards us and our children.
God’s Ways Are Higher Than Ours
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We were created lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:7). Our minds cannot begin to grasp the full mysteries of God’s purposes and divine logic. There are many things we will never understand this side of heaven. The death of a child is certainly one of the most difficult for our earthly minds to comprehend.
Yet we see dimly as through a glass, while one day we will see clearly and fully know God (1 Corinthians 13:12). We walk by faith, not by sight. Trusting in what we cannot see takes tremendous faith. Yet this is the precious gift God gives his children.
When friends of Job came to comfort him after the death of his ten children, they tried to make sense of the tragedy and find reasons. They speculated what sin Job had committed to deserve such pain. Yet Job maintained his faith in God’s sovereignty and righteousness, despite not understanding his suffering.
“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22).
May God give us grace to say along with Job, “though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15). His ways are mysterious and his wisdom so above ours. Yet we know his character is perfect love. By faith we say blessed be his name, even when we don’t understand.
This World Is Temporary
The death of a child highlights the brokenness of this fallen world. God did not originally design mankind for death and grief. Yet Adam and Eve’s decision to rebel brought sin and its curse into the human experience. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
How we long for the world God intended – devoid of sickness, pain, grief and death. The good news is that day is coming! Jesus Christ will return to abolish the curse of death forever.
The apostle John saw a vision of the culmination of human history. He testified, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away… He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:4-5).
What glorious hope we have! This broken world is only temporary. For those who trust in Christ, we await an eternity where the curse of death is gone forever. What unspeakable joy to be reunited with loved ones in the perfection of paradise! The Lord is gathering all of us home.
Until that glorious day, we persevere through the pain, trusting that God will redeem life’s tragedies in ways we cannot yet see. The death of a child can shake us to the core, yet we do not lose hope. We can rest knowing the child we love is safe with the Heavenly Father until we meet again. By God’s grace, the fractures in our hearts will mend in eternal joy.
May these promises bring you comfort as you grieve, dear bereaved parent. You are not alone. Doubtless you still have many questions, but know that God walks with you in your sorrow. As you mourn here on earth, heaven rejoices as your beloved child dwells with Christ. Trust in God’s goodness and take courage. One day all tears will be wiped away. You will hold your child again. There is hope.
The death of a child goes against the natural order. It leaves parents with immense grief, pain and often many unresolved questions. Yet in these darkest of times, God promises to be close to the brokenhearted. Scripture provides guidance, reassurance and hope for grieving parents.
Though God’s ways are mysterious and this world is filled with suffering, we can trust his wisdom and character. Our children are safe in the arms of a loving God. We grieve, but not as those without hope. By the grace of Christ, we will see our children again. The day will come when our tears are wiped away and death itself is swallowed up in eternal victory. Until then, may God’s peace carry you as you cherish the blessed memories of your beloved child. You will meet again.