When a child goes to heaven

When a pain so great as a death of a child befalls a family, few are those daring to comfort the family that is going through such a great loss. How can we search the right words to soothe the hearts of those facing what so many people believe being the greatest tragedy that can befall a family? Indeed, for those who do not have a solid knowledge of the Bible and of whom God is, words really fail. My intention with this text today, however, is to try to fill this gap.

March 12th, 2005, was the most difficult day of my life. The day that my daughter, Lissa Camila, went to Heaven. There were few people who had the courage to pronounce something that they thought would cause us some kind of consolation. Many came with opinions and theories raised in an attempt to bring us some comfort, which in fact only brought more pain.

At that time, I was very young in the faith and didn’t have the biblical knowledge I have today. So, I suffered a lot with opinions and suggestions given by people with good intentions, but through lack of knowledge, in an effort to try to bring some comfort, they actually brought me more suffering.

When facing such a situation, the first thing to keep in mind is that God is good:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

God is good and all that is good comes from Him. Goodness is part of God’s nature and He is unchangeable. Therefore, it is impossible for God to be good at one time and be bad at another. God is always good and He loves us (1 John 4:16).

The second thing we should make clear is that God loves children too:

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. (Luke 18:16-17)

Children are more than just loved by God. Jesus makes clear that the Kingdom of God belongs to them, and He sets them as a reference for the adults to be part of the Kingdom. Children are examples of purity and sincerity. they are so sincere in their acts and words that, because of it, God is pleased with them.

When a child dies, God still loves her, and still wants her close to Him. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death (Romans 8: 38-39)! When a child dies, she goes to live in the glory with our Father, enjoying an eternal happiness and a fulfillment of life that nothing in this world can offer.

King David had to face the death of three of his children, among those there was a kid. When he faced the death of his two adult sons, Amnon and Absalom, King David basically had the same reaction. He got despaired after he knew they were dead.

Concerning the death of Amnon, the Bible tells us that “The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly.[…] King David mourned many days for his son.” (2 Samuel 13: 36-37). When he heard about Absalom’s death, “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you – O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33).

King David’s reaction before the death of his little child was very different:

Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.

His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”

He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me. (2 Samuel 12: 20-23)

David was calm and serene before the passing of his little child because he was sure he would see the child again. He couldn’t do the same about his two other sons. 

For us Christians, sons of God, it is given the gift of eternity with Christ (Daniel 7:18, 1 John 5:11), and we must walk in that truth. We should not fear death, it is just a passage to eternal life.

According to the Word of God in John 1:12, the children of God and heirs of eternity with Christ are those who have received Jesus, and believed in His name. He also says in Romans 10:9: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

When someone faces the death of a child, he may think about how short that life was and how much she had left to live. But remember that, in comparison with eternity, our life is just a tiny spot done by a pencil on an infinite size cardboard. What are eighty or ninety years before eternity?

When we face the death of a little child, we must act with the same serenity as David acted when he faced the same situation, being certain that God is good (Luke 18:19) and that children are the holders of the Kingdom of God. For us Christians, there is no room for despair, for we’re sure we’ll be reunited with Christ. It is one of the legacies that belongs to every son of God.

When we Christians are in a situation that we have to say goodbye to a little child or even to a beloved brother or sister who died in the Lord, we should always remember that it is not really a “goodbye”, but just a “see you soon”.

Be blessed,

Camila Lycurgo