Ask Your Preacher
What happens to a child that dies shortly after birth? And what comforting words can I tell a mother and father whose child died after being born?
Dear Empathetic Friend,
There are no words that can remove the pain that a parent feels when they lose a child – their grieving hearts know a pain that is all their own (Pr 14:10). There is a grieving process that they must go through (read “Great Grief” for details on what the Bible says on grieving).
However, you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the baby is in Paradise with God. King David settled that question when his son died. David was in great distress and sorrow because his child was sick and dying (2 Sam 12:16-17). Yet, when the baby died, David stopped his distress and fasting (2 Sam 12:19-20). When David’s astonished servants asked him why he was better considering the child just passed away, David simply said, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Sam 12:22-23) David was keenly aware that all children go to heaven. You can confidently tell any grieving parent that their baby is in the arms of a loving Father.
I would like to know where all of God’s beautiful, four-legged creatures go when they die. My grandson asked me this question right after his dog died. Of course, I told him his dog went to heaven to be with God and is waiting for him... but the truth of the matter is, I don't really know where his dog went to! I was always told that dogs and cats don't have souls, so if that's true... where would they go?
Grammy Grief Counselor
Dear Grammy Grief Counselor,
Animals are a blessing from God, and your grandson’s fondness for his dog is shared by animal lovers the world ‘round. Animals have the “breath of life” just like humans do (Gen 2:7, Gen 6:17). This “breath of life” is also sometimes referred to as the “spirit” of a man or animal (Gen 7:22). Animals have spirits, and humans have spirits, but humans were also made in the image of God (Gen 1:26). Our spirits are eternal and will go up to be with the Father, and animal spirits are temporary and will return to the dust of the earth (Eccl 3:21). God made our spirit of a different caliber than He made those of the animal. Dogs don’t go to heaven, but we can feel confident that God has decided wisely on this issue like all others. We may not always understand His reasons, but He always makes good decisions.
My wife and I have been married for thirty-two years, and we have three grown sons (30, 28, and 26). The twenty-six year old refuses to grow up, and my wife won't let him grow up. He's living with a woman and her two children. He calls my wife for everything! He does not have a job, and my wife jumps every time He calls. This is causing serious stress on our marriage! I am a preacher, and I want to do the right thing! A house divided shall not stand. How should I handle this issue? Thanks.
Dear Frustrated Father,
There is only one verse that is needed to address an adult that won’t work and pay their own bills – “If any will not work, neither let them eat” (2 Thess 3:10). Financially supporting someone who won’t work, especially in these hard economic times when others are struggling to find work, is wrong. The Bible advice is simple – no more handouts. Make the decision, as a couple, that you will stand together and do what is best for your son. Don’t lay the blame solely on your wife; a husband is responsible for the decisions of his house (Eph 5:23).
My wife and I have been married seven years. She has a son in his early forties from a previous marriage. He has had a roller coaster lifestyle. He does not like to live by the rules. He gets help for addiction to drugs and alcohol, does well for a while, and then falls back to his old ways. She wants to continue to help him, and I think we should stop helping and let him grow up. Now his girlfriend is pregnant and due soon. Neither of them has a job or income. What should I do?
The Bible solution is simple to say, but hard to do. It is hard because when you do what the Bible says, your son will whine and cry and beg and manipulate and cajole and scream and… you get the idea. The Bible simply says, “If a man will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thess 3:10). The most loving thing you can do for this man is to let him see what it is like to live without a safety net – no more hand holding, no more free money, and no more free rides. When people figure out that they need to work in order to eat… they start working. He won’t starve; there are thousands of food banks across America. He won’t freeze; there are thousands of shelters across America. He will learn to stand on his own two feet. By no longer subsidizing his bad behavior, you and your wife can give him the gift of an actual life.
I need help. Every time someone in our family passes away, my son gets scared. People that are adults have told him that people who have passed can come back and visit us. He will not sleep alone for a long time by himself. My aunt just passed away this week, and we are dealing with it again. I do not know if this spirit or ghost thing is true or not because I have not ever seen one. I do not want to tell him lies, so I figured the best thing is to ask a preacher if it is true or made up, and I will explain it to him. Thank you and hope you can help.
Dear Ghost Buster,
Death is a very difficult concept for children to cope with, and myths can make a tricky subject even more trying. When people die, they do not come back to visit us. Heb 9:27 says that when we die, we go to meet God – we don’t come back. Lk 16:19-23 tells us that when people die, good or bad, they go to Paradise or torments. Ghost stories and tales of spirits are just that – stories and tales. You can confidently tell your son that no one is coming back to visit him, and he can rest easy knowing God is in control.