[Originally published on October 3, 2015. I republish it because I learned of friends this week who lost their little one in the womb over the summer.]
“Will I see Joshua again?”
Joshua is my son, who died at about 20 weeks of age, inside the womb. He was perfectly formed–4 limbs, ribs, toes, fingers (with fingernails!), hairs on his back, and a beautiful little face. (Insert compelling case for protecting the lives of unborn children here…)
He died at 20 weeks simply because his umbilical cord became tangled and kinked. Our doctor was very quick to shepherd my wife: “there is nothing you did to cause this, and nothing you could have done to prevent this.” He’s right.
My question, “Will I see Joshua again?” is shared by any who have lost babies in the womb, or as newborns and infants. Even at the start of life, we’re still reminded of the brokenness of this world!
Pastor Sam Storms provides a simple case for the fact that God’s mercy extends to those, like Joshua, who die very young, before the so-called ‘age of accountability.’ Click this link for his whole blog post. The best of the reasons are:
“1. In Romans 1:20 Paul describes recipients of general revelation as being “without excuse.” They can’t blame their unbelief on a lack of evidence. There is sufficient revelation of God’s existence in the natural order to establish the moral accountability of all who witness it. Might this imply that those who are not recipients of general revelation (i.e., infants) are therefore not accountable to God or subject to wrath? In other words, wouldn’t those who die in infancy have an “excuse” in that they neither receive general revelation nor have the capacity to respond to it?
“4. There is the consistent testimony of Scripture that people are judged on the basis of sins committed voluntary and consciously in the body (see 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Rev. 20:11–12). In other words, eternal judgment is always based on conscious rejection of divine revelation (whether in creation, conscience, or Christ) and willful disobedience. Are infants capable of either? There is no explicit account in Scripture of any other judgment based on any other grounds. Thus, those dying in infancy are saved because they do not (indeed cannot) satisfy the conditions for divine judgment.
“6. We have what would appear to be clear biblical evidence that at least some infants are regenerate in the womb, such that if they died in their infancy they would be saved. This provides at least a theoretical basis for considering whether the same may be true of all who die in infancy. As Ronald Nash points out, “If this sort of thing happens even once, it can certainly happen in other cases.” Supporting texts include Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 1:15.
“8. Let me close with an argument that’s entirely subjective (and therefore of questionable evidential value). Given our understanding of God’s character as presented in Scripture, does he appear as the kind of God who would eternally condemn infants on no other ground than that of Adam’s transgression? Again, this is a subjective (and perhaps sentimental) question. But it deserves an answer, nonetheless.” [http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/do-all-infants-go-to-heaven]
The God of Scripture is gracious and compassionate, and loves us humans dearly. He is just and kind, and will never be unjust. Scripture gives hope to parents who have suffered the death of young ones, that until they consciously choose to rebel, until they understand God’s grace and reject it, God receives them to himself at death. I take great comfort and joy in the confidence that my son Joshua is with the Lord. Frankly it’s fun to think that my dad who died 30 years ago has gotten to meet one of his grandkids!