Cancer and car wrecks. Diseases that have been there since birth or sudden, unexpected and unexplained. Victims of crime or the consequence of horrible decisions. Adult children and those not yet born into this world.
Children who die and parents who bury them. There are few things that impact our church families as much as the death of our children. We grieve with the heartbroken families and we hold our own kids a little closer. Sometimes they die when the whole church has been on their knees begging God to heal them in this life. Sometimes they die, yet other children are healed.
Having performed the funerals for several children in my community of faith over the past couple of years, and being deeply involved with several others, I am convicted that there are things we must say in our church families at times like these. Church leaders, elders and wives, older women, ministers, and spiritual friends need to speak words of truth to the flock. It may be said in public settings, in small groups, or even to individuals. But there are things that must be said.
And I do recognize the danger of saying the wrong thing. But that cannot stop mature leaders from saying the right things. I also recognize and appreciate the non-verbal acts of love at times like these: cards, hugs, being there, food, and helping at funerals.
But here is what I believe must be said.
We don’t have all the answers about death, God, prayer, and suffering.
But we do know some things to be true.
This world is a tough place. Sickness, sin, pain, and death. It is real and it touches all of us.
God is here in the midst of all of it.
This world is not our home.
God will be glorified. We will praise him even in the storm.
We do not grieve like those with no hope. Because we believe.
We will see our children around the throne of God someday.
We have to tell the world of our hope.
So they can know what we know.
In a broken world of death and pain…
Jesus rose from the grave.
We believe and because of that, we will see our babies, our sons and daughters, our children, again.
Until then, we cry, praise, and hang on to God and each other.
And wait for the Lord to take us home so we can all be together again.
And I do not know how you survive without Jesus.
So come quickly Lord.
Take us home.
These things are true and they need to be said.
So when one of your church children die—and it will happen—be a leader who speaks truth. Your people need to hear it.
Steve loves to tell the story of Jesus. He is the Director of Ministry for Hope for Life, a Herald of Truth Ministry, and serves as an elder at the Southern Hills church of Christ in Abilene, TX. He is a popular speaker for Lectureships, seminars, and retreats, and his latest book is “Can I Tell You a Story?” He and his wife Marsha have two children and five grandchildren.