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 son suffers from OCD, and in trying to deal with it, he tries to make deals with God. For example, he said he made the deal that if he gave in to the problem, then God can let the devil taint his xBox. Now, he won't play at all because he gave in and believes God has allowed his xBox to be tainted by the devil. I've told him God doesn't work that way, but he won’t believe me. Is there a biblical Scripture I can show him that will prove to him that God doesn't make deals?
Dear Perturbed Parent,
A little less time on the xBox isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but believing the devil has infected your electronics is probably a problem. All joking aside, the best verse to cover this issue with your son is Matt 4:5-7. When the devil tempted Jesus by taking Him to the top of the temple and daring Jesus to throw Himself down and prove that God could take care of Him, Jesus responded by saying, “Do not test the Lord your God”. God makes the rules, not us (Isa 33:22). Explain to your son that being faithful means that we trust God’s Bible. It is God’s will that will be done, not ours (Jas 4:14). God decides what our punishments will be, not us.
My sister recently lost her son (a twenty-five-year-old) to a bad car accident. He was in the height of his life, recently engaged to be married, and doing well at his job. Her grief has steadily increased. She wants answers. Why would God do this? Why would He take such a good person? Is He punishing her for her sins?
I am exhausted trying to find Bible verses or words of comfort for her. Please help.
Dear Forlorn Aunt,
This is a great question… which is why thousands of books have been written on the subject of grief. When Jacob heard of his son’s death and when he contemplated the loss of a second son, he said, “My gray hair will go down to Sheol” (Gen 37:35, Gen 42:38). That emotion is a normal one. When one learns of the death of a spouse or child, their first reaction is so painful and the grief is so deep that they feel they will never have another happy moment on this earth. Jacob’s first reaction was normal in this respect. Jacob later received the good news that his son was alive, so he didn’t have to go to his grave in pain.
But your question is about your sister today. How do we handle grief, so that we will be able to recover and find happiness again? This process of handling grief is called “Healing Grief.” It means we go through the grieving process in the right way, so we can heal. This is where those thousands of books come in, and I suggest your sister read many of them. Also, one of our AYP writers has an entire audio sermon series on grieving that he wrote when his wife died; that series can be found here. Some of the major things most people need to do are:
- Go ahead and cry your eyes out. Don’t be ashamed to express your pain by crying. (Ps 6:6-7)
- If you have a friend who will listen, talk, talk, talk. Crying and talking are very therapeutic. Don’t hold it in! Cry and talk. (Eccl 4:10)
- Cry out to God in prayer and listen to God as He speaks to you through His Bible, especially the book of Psalms (Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:6-7).
- This next one sounds funny to someone who has not been through this experience, but those who have will know what I am saying. After a few months, you will realize that you don’t want to let go of your loved one. You don’t want them forgotten. You actually hope they might, in some way, come back. At this stage, you must accept the fact that they are gone. This is not easy, but it is a big step that is necessary to healing. (2 Sam 12:22-23)
When this acceptance actually comes into her life, she will begin the final period called ‘recovery’. It is at this time that hope will come back into her life, and she will find happiness again. She is going through a grieving process God built within us humans who are made in His image… so encourage her to not give up. Even Jesus Himself experienced this emotion (John 11:35).
Does a person who is mentally retarded still go to heaven if they do not believe, or are they considered children, and why does mental retardation exist in the first place? I’m guessing mankind is at fault and responsible for this, and it is a consequence for humans for sin.
Young At Heart
Dear Young At Heart,
Those with mental handicaps would fall under the same rules as children. In order to obey the gospel, we must have the maturity to:
- Take responsibility for our sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for our own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
Children and those with mental disabilities do not have that ability, and God only holds us accountable for what we are able to do (2 Cor 8:11-12).
All disease and illness is a consequence of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, their bodies began to die (Gen 2:17). When mankind was kicked out of the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24), diseases of all sorts began to creep in. Mental diseases are just one consequence of that fateful decision that Adam and Eve made.