Journal Feature Lost or Found?
The Impact of Sin upon the Death of a Child
BY DARYL A. NEIPP
Few things in life, if any, can compare to the loss
of a child. Humans instinctively respect the cycle of
life and can accept the death of an aging grandparent, but the loss of an innocent child is something
Bill Hybels’ daughter, Shauna Niequist, reflects upon her own
experience in the book Bittersweet:
I understand, a little, why people sometimes have memorial services
after miscarriages. You wake up from surgery, and it’s over. There’s no
gathering of friends and family, no prayers, no final moment when
you walk away from a grave. I emerged from anesthesia, and it was
over. Theoretically, it was over. Medically, it was over. But a medical
procedure didn’t put this life to rest, as much as I hoped it would. The
wounds still felt open, and I didn’t know what to do to close them.1
Those who have experienced the loss of a child understand these
sentiments and know what it is like to not only grieve but also to
relive those memories at least once every calendar year when that
baby’s birthday arrives right on schedule. It is normal and natural
then to question God and seek answers from the Giver of life.
At times these can be filled with emotion and anger, but in many
cases the questioning is a cry for understanding—activity that
1. Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the
Hard Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 44.
attempts to reconcile one’s belief that God is truly good with the
experience of what can only be characterized as bad. The problem
is that sometimes well-meaning people can get so caught up in
their emotion that they begin to create God into their own image.
In other words, out of a sense of desperation, a parent who has
lost a child may make assumptions about God and the destiny
of their baby simply because they dare not allow themselves to
consider the alternative.
Hence, a wide spectrum of viewpoints have been created that
may help parents cope, yet contain no Scriptural foundation. For
example, Pat Schwiebert wrote a children’s book titled We Were
Gonna Have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead. Certainly no
one would argue with the intentions of the author; however, this
approach has never served the process of interpretation well.
Just like any other issue, a great disservice is enacted against the
integrity of Scripture when individuals read their own ideas into
the Bible instead of allowing God to speak for Himself.
The purpose of this article is to set emotion aside, as much as is
humanly possible, in an attempt to consider the destiny of babies
from an objective point of view. For the purpose of simplicity,
this discussion will present two main positions (though several
variations do exist); one is in the majority for obvious reasons.
However, it is important for thinkers to step beyond what they
desire the Bible to say, and see if that particular view stands up
against scrutiny. Unfortunately, in this case, the Bible does not
contain any direct statements in this regard. However, the same