In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10
It is more than 30 years now since a Christian family I know lost their baby shortly after Baptism.
"Lost" is a poor word, since they knew exactly where their child was: she was with her Savior. Although the blow was devastating, that mother and father had a comfort and peace that cannot be comprehended by those who do not know or acknowledge Jesus as their Redeemer.
The family made their sad preparations for a funeral.
I don't have to tell you, the entire community turned out for the wake. Every heart that walked through the door of the funeral parlor had wrestled with the question, "Why God?" The mourners wanted something to share, something to say, anything that would provide some way to explain this tragedy, which had come so suddenly.
The pastor who stood near to the parents, soon noticed that the mourners seemed to be either-or. Either they were Christians who had something to say, or they were unbelievers who remained for the most part, silent.
The pastor listened as Christians said things like "This is the Lord's will, and we must move on." That was what many Christians said.
As I said, there was another group of people who came to the wake that night. Most of these passed by the miniature casket without comment. They didn't say much because that night those folks were filled with rage. They were angered that god, if there was a god, had done such a thing. The death of this child had absolutely convinced them that god, if there was a god, is cruel and capricious, vile and vengeful.
For them, without Jesus there was no hope; there was no promise of a reunion in heaven.
Without the Savior they simply could not see that death, for those who have been washed from their sins by Jesus' blood, is the doorway to eternal life. Their cries, "Why God? Why?" echoed back to them unanswered. They could not, as hard as they tried, find anything of comfort to say to the parents. They could only cry, shake their heads, give them a hug, and pass on by.
After the time of visitation was over, the pastor had intended to have a short service with the immediate family. Before he could begin, the parents asked, "You heard what was said to us tonight. So many said our baby's death was God's will. They were trying to help, but they didn't. Reverend, can you help us?"
Mom and dad wanted an answer, some understanding, some help with the cross they were carrying.
The pastor said this: "Our Savior does not kill children. My Lord does not rip apart the hearts and ruin the lives of mothers and fathers. Those things are done by sin." Then that pastor proceeded to explain that God cannot love us and hate us at the same time. Jesus cannot be the Light of the world, and at the same time, the Bringer of darkness. He shared with them that God does not take pleasure in the death of the world's sinners (see Ezekiel 33:11).
The family understood. That doesn't mean they didn't hurt; they did. But they understood God was not cruel. He was a gracious God whose Son died so their daughter might be forgiven and live forever. They knew that God had loved them and their child so much He had sent His Son to save.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, even in the most difficult times, help us see You for the gracious God You are. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries