By Jim Henry
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Of all deaths, that of a child is most unnatural and hardest to bear. We expect the old to die. While that kind of separation is always difficult, it comes as no surprise. But the death of a young child or a youth is a different matter. Life with its beauty, wonder, and potential lies ahead for them. Death is a cruel thief when it strikes down the young.
In a way that is different from any other relationship because a child is bone of his parents' bone and flesh of their flesh. When a child dies, part of the parent is buried.1 So writes Joseph Bayly, who had the sad duty of burying three of his children.
When we lose a child, the effect is widespread. It not only touches the parents, but it can involve siblings, grandparents, friends, and caregivers in a unique way. In the Scripture there is a story that offers us some insight and comfort as we share in this grief. David and Bathsheba's little boy lived only seven days.
I. Reminder We Can Be Recalled
Life, when it is brief, is a reminder that all of us can be recalled at any time. Life is transitory. "Each man's life is but a breath" (
II . Respond in Grief Until We Find Relief
The illness and death of David's child teaches us how to respond in grief until we find relief. There must be the expression of grief. It must do its work. He did not try to bury his feelings. Grief is a felt response. It must not be smothered. David made a mistake in his grief. He tried to grieve alone. A grief shared is a burden divided. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (
Time will bring some healing, but it will not heal all the wound. Billy Graham wrote, "Time does not heal. It's what you do with the time that heals . . . a long life or a short life are of equal importance to God."2 If we bury our grief, it is like a toxic waste. It will surface again, and the contamination makes for more trouble. Time alone doesn't overcome sorrow, because sorrow is neutral, a vacuum. Therefore, we turn to the only one who can enable us to deal with our grief God. "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (