The grief of losing a child
We need God’s wisdom and compassion when we are called upon to counsel and comfort someone who loses a loved one. What do we say when that loved one is a little child? John MacArthur’s book Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven about the Death of a Child (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003) offers a cogent, compelling presentation that God welcomes these little lives into His presence.
“Every life conceived is a person”
MacArthur begins by reminding the reader that “every life conceived is a person.” (p. 13) He uses Psalm 139 as a proof text to show that God expresses His thoughts about newly conceived life, and leaves no question that He is intimately concerned with that life from the very beginning. God actively participates in (Psalm 22) and has unlimited knowledge of each life. As well, God shows personal oversight in the creation of each person and in the unfolding of each life through time.
God’s tenderness toward children
The author gives many scriptural examples of how tenderly God views children. Particularly poignant was His concern for the children when urging the inhabitants of Nineveh to repent in Jonah 4. He further cites Jesus’ regard for children, among other examples of God’s tenderness toward the young.
God saves those unable to understand
MacArthur clearly points out that all children are conceived and born as sinners and that the salvation of every person is a matter of God’s grace, not man’s works. He also shows that we are saved by the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the supreme manifestation of God’s grace. He cites Scripture to show that we are saved by grace, but condemned by works. Infants have yet to perform works so through His grace, He saves them. With this MacArthur discusses the age of accountability, not as a chronological age but a condition, citing the example of the inability of some mentally handicapped adults to understand or respond to Scripture.
Will I see my child in heaven?
Probably the most heart rending question we may face from a parent who has lost a child is, “Will I see my child in Heaven?” MacArthur reminds us of David’s response to the death of two of his children in 2 Samuel. When the child conceived in sin with Bathsheba died chapters 11-12), David ceased his mourning, worshipped God, and rejoiced that he would again see this child one day (in heaven.) In contrast, when his adult son, the rebellious Absalom died (chapter 18), David wept and mourned for this child he would never see again.
Topics in the book
Chapters in the book include:
- Where Is My Child?
- What Can We Say with Certainty to Those with Empty Arms?
- How Does God Regard Children?
- What If My Child Is Not Among the Elect?
- Will I See My Child Again?
- What Is My Child’s Life Like in Heaven?
- Why Did My Child Have to Die?
- How Shall We Minister to Those Who Are Grieving?
- Let Me Pray with You.
We may not agree with everything, but….
MacArthur writes from a reformed theology position which you may or may not agree with. Regardless, this small book offers encouragement and hope to parents who have lost a child and is worth reading and recommending to friends and family dealing with the death of a child.