2 Samuel 12:22-23 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.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
David’s grief was rooted in reality. Losing a child is a terrible thing, but it happens. David knew what it was to humble himself before the Lord, and a full week of fasting and sleeping on the ground was certainly impressive to his staff. However, he also knew that continuing to center his life on the child after the child was dead accomplished nothing. This is something that, sadly, many parents fail to grasp. They fail to understand that the child itself would not want the parents to destroy their own lives because of its death. David’s last statement, acknowledging that he would eventually join the child in death, but he couldn’t force a resurrection, is powerful. I have seen parents who would have given their own life in a moment if the child could have received it, but that’s not how it works, and David knew and accepted it. It is downright amazing to me when Christians are utterly distraught and fail to move on after the death of a loved one. They really don’t seem to believe in heaven! Yes, we miss those who go on ahead, but if they and we are committed to Christ, (or are less than the age of accountability) then we know that we will have a reunion, and heaven is immeasurably better than life here. We should rejoice that by God’s mercy the one who has died is freed from all suffering of any sort. Most grief is essentially self-centered, focusing on personal loss rather than on the deceased person. David realized that, and he was able to release his child to God and move on.
I haven’t lost children, but I have lost parents. When my father didn’t wake up after heart surgery at 64 it was quite a shock, but my honest first reaction was, “He won’t have to retire.” When my mother died at 72, after a considerable battle with cancer, I wept before the Lord before the fact, asking Him to take her home, since I knew she was more than ready, but I didn’t weep after. I realize that I’m pretty unusual in that, but I consider that awareness to be a huge blessing. At this point, my wife has a laundry list of medical issues, and there has been prophecy that she will precede me. That is hardly a happy thought for me, but objectively I know that my going first would be harder on her than the other way around. Frankly, I have done some grieving ahead of time! Since she has already been to heaven once and come back, I know that it would be entirely selfish of me to try to keep her here when God says it is time, but I would be delighted if He takes us together, or if Christ’s return makes it all moot. Meanwhile, as a pastor I am called on to comfort people in their grief. I am not to make light of their grief in any way, but I am to seek to lift their eyes to God’s grace and mercy and restore to them the joy of His salvation.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that we indeed have the “hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) May I be increasingly effective in imparting that hope to others, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!