Heaven: Is My Baby There? {Part 1}

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part article. Part two will be posted tomorrow.


[This article was written in the months after my daughter’s home-going in 2013.]

In the days after coming home from the hospital where my daughter was stillborn, I sat in bed before the Bible for many hours, searching. I would need to either trust God in the unknown or see Scriptural reason to believe that my daughter resided with Him. Humanly speaking, my most natural belief would have been that she somehow reached heaven.

Looking as a mother at the vacant body of a new, precious child could stir no other desire in me than to believe that she was first held in His arms, if not in mine. And maybe I could find that to be true. But without Scripture, I did not want to trust it. I could not start with my own reasoning because by the same, I knew I would also be capable of twisting the gospel by which I was saved into no gospel at all. I could not reason that He ushers the unborn or infants into His presence at death solely because this category of people deserves to be loved by God, because by that thought, I could also judge that virtually all people are “good” and, by my definition, deserve to be loved by God and none experience His judgment.

By this, I could also believe away the existence of hell and eternal punishment based upon the merit or, at the very least, the potential of all of mankind. I could convert His sacrificial death—an act of incredible love for sinners who deserve damnation—into either an act of obligation or an exemplary act. In the first, He would come to earth to appease man for the suffering He allowed man to endure. In the second, He would serve as an example of the way man could best live on earth until reaching heaven. Neither are the gospel that I find in Scripture, and so, are no gospel at all.

My own reasoning would dwarf the holiness of God; I dearly needed Scripture to show me His ways. With caution for protecting the truth of the gospel in my soul, I turned to the Bible for resolution on the most dearly-felt subject I had ever turned to the Bible for in my life—my only daughter’s eternal salvation. I turned there with a mind open to it, because I also could not reason that I knew God had no unique plan for a unique category of people to which my daughter belonged. I held to this: God and His Word are the standard of good. I sought that Scripture alone would inform my beliefs, especially then.

Starting with Original Sin

The day before I began searching out these answers in my home, I had given my daughter’s baby body to a nurse, who helped to transfer her body to a funeral home, until her body would soon be transferred to a casket, and then to her graveside service where she would be finally placed in the ground. Her body was not there in its final earthly resting place yet; neither was my mind fully assured of her heavenly resting place.

I started with what I knew.

Psalm 51:5 communicates the truth of universal sin: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” My daughter is no exception; those lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss are no exception. Yet, will they be in heaven? Perhaps, like me, you have leafed through pages of Scripture and reference works, which never before seemed so overwhelmingly vast in general, and so underwhelmingly trim concerning any subject.

In searching, 2 Samuel 12 made my Bible’s pages seem to grow weightier in my hands.

David Understood Grief

The story of 2 Samuel 12 begins with the failing of king David, the king of God’s chosen people, Israel. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband to be murdered as a cover-up. As a consequence for David’s sin, God vowed that He would take the life of David and Bathsheba’s son. As God foretold, when David’s son was born, the son became ill. David knew the consequence that God vowed. He also knew that God alone determines the times of life and death. As a grieving father, David pleaded with God to save his child. He went without food. He sprawled himself on the ground. He put on his mourning clothes. Those around him worried for his wellbeing.

There, sitting in my own bed reading of David, I hardly moved either. Though not fasting to plead with God, still, food was not my priority and neither were my clothes. Those around me might have been thinking about my wellbeing, but I was not. I had only one subject on my mind—my child no longer with me. I understood David, and he me.

David had the emotional foresight to understand the reality of loss before it happened. He thought of what losing his child would mean—to spend the remainder of his days without this little one. He pleaded with God to allow his child to live. When his child did die, those around David were at first too concerned for David’s wellbeing to tell him. David’s friends talked amongst themselves about how to handle the news. Now that David’s child was gone, they feared that David would be thrust into a deeper, darker, more hopeless despair. Yet, when David learned of his son’s death, he did not despair. In fact, David—right then—peeled himself off of the ground, washed himself, put on his clothes, and ate.

As I read this, I questioned with David’s friends who had feared the worst—How? How was David able to return to his normal life, which consisted of moving, washing, dressing, and eating, so seemingly easily and so quickly? I knew David loved his child. I read that he knew properly how to mourn. In the first act of this story, I felt comforted by these very observations. The opposites could not be true. I felt synonymous with David in his love for his child, and I felt comforted that he, inside and outside, wore all of what mourning is while pleading with God so thoroughly for this child’s life.

As David also knew, the chasm that is created when a parent loses his or her child cannot be quickly or easily filled—not filled at all except by otherworldly hope. The way to avoid despair through grief is exclusively through David’s Messiah and our Savior, Jesus: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him,” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15). Had David doubted or questioned the eternal destination of his son, would he have recovered as easily? Would a man so sincerely emotional, as evidenced in his first expressions of grief, now be cold? Even further, would David recover so quickly had he believed that he had precluded his son not only from earthly life but from eternal life?

David Understood Hope

 I found in David’s following words the answer to my questions: “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 go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” This child’s death was God’s explicitly revealed consequence toward David for David’s sin. There is a significant nuance here—loss of this child was David’s consequence, not the child’s. In the story, David expressed hope that, perhaps, God would be gracious “to me”—to David—to allow the child to live.

If the child were destined to eternal hell for not being in possession of saving faith, would not David have prayed for God to be gracious to him and the child or even solely the child? If the only way for the child to reach heaven were through the child’s life being spared so that he could later make a decision to forsake sin and follow the Lord in faith, would David not have prayed for God to keep the child alive for the sake of the child? If David were not positive that his son would reach heaven, would he not have made that his earnest prayer? Presumably, David made no argument for God to save his son on the basis of his son’s wellbeing because David did not fear for his son’s wellbeing. Instead, David said of his son, “I will go to him.” In that moment, my spirit also said that I do not need to grieve without hope. For I can say no less boldly than David— “I will go to her, my daughter.” I will go to the heavenly home that also houses the full person of my child.

I Hoped for My Daughter

At this point, while I knew that much grief was still ahead for me, I assumed within myself David’s mindset of hopeful truth and found the freedoms both to mourn or to get up and eat. I remembered with David that I knew the conclusion of my child’s story—that she had started the beginning of a new heavenly life, a life everlastingly with God.

A mother with a child on earth washes used, sink-worthy dishes while her attention is fixed through a window to where her child is walking and running through the backyard. That’s what I imagined for me and my daughter while pregnant.

Yet, I will still always be that mother—but in a different sense.

While I am sorting through the work of this world—which right now includes doing the daily task of walking through earthly grief over a child lost—I will always be able to peer outside the window of this world and “see” my child walking through heaven. What would have been my daughter’s curly, blond locks illuminated by the sunset during after-dinner play in the backyard is, instead, the Son of God illuminating her eternal life. What more could I want for my daughter than for her to have Him? There is no better gift; there is no better view of a child through any window than the view that I now have from mine. She was not made to play in my backyard. She was not made for this world at all.

- Lianna

Hope Mom to Noelle

Lianna is wed to Tyler and mother of two girls, one who lives in heaven and one who lives on earth. First and foremost, she is a vessel of mercy belonging to her Lord. She enjoys spending time with family, being a church member, studying, and taking photographs.


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1 Reply to "Heaven: Is My Baby There? {Part 1}"

  • Briana Baker
    January 9, 2018 (1:47 pm)
    Reply

    Thank you Lianna this is something that even as a devout follower I have struggled with. My husband is a pastor and I even had him questioning. I really appreciate your point of view on what David said. We have both been searching for something to show us that our baby is in heaven.


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