Many of you already know that my wife and I lost a baby in the womb this past week. We discovered that the baby had died at a doctor's visit on Tuesday. The procedure for removing the baby was scheduled for tomorrow. In God's great mercy, that procedure is no longer necessary. The baby came today. I am glad that he did (I say 'he' though we do not know if he was a boy or a girl). What a privilege it was to see him, tiny, perfectly formed, with delicate and perfect little hands, arms, legs, feet, and toes. Truly we are knit together in the secret places, fearfully and wonderfully made.
I think the hospital procedure, while often necessary, would have separated us from the reality of what had happened. We got the privilege of seeing him, of crying. If the child had been a girl, her name would have been Zoe --life. And he or she does live, before God.
Grief is such a strange thing. There is no comparing the intensity of grief over one loss to another. I have grieved friends and church members and grandparents, but not yet a parent, nor have I grieved a born child. I will say this --there are different forms of grief. Beyond that, I cannot characterize it. It is grief and it is real, because it was the loss of a life, the life of a child unseen in life, and yet loved, both by us and by our Savior.
Our church's Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes Biblical teaching on such things this way:
10.3 Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons, who are uncapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
A. A. Hodge, in his commentary on this section, summarizes thus:
The phrase "elect infants" is precise and fit for its purpose. It is not intended to suggest that there are any infants not elect, but simply to point out the facts --1.) That all infants are born under righteous condemnation; and
2.) That no infant has any claim in itself to salvation; and hence
3.) The salvation of each infant, precisely as the salvation of every adult, must have its absolute ground in the sovereign election of God.
This would be just as true if all adults were elected as it is now that only some adults are elected. It is, therefore, just as true, although we have good reason to believe that all infants are elected. The Confession adheres in this place accurately to the facts revealed. It is certainly revealed that none, either adult or infant, is saved except on the ground of a sovereign election; that is, all salvation for the human race is pure grace. It is not positively revealed that all infants are elect, but we are left, for many reasons, to indulge a highly probable hope that such is the fact. The Confession affirms what is certainly revealed and leaves that which revelation has not decided to remain without the suggestion of a positive opinion upon one side or the other.The judge of all the earth will do right, and we leave such matters to him. Whatever God's disposition towards the children of unbelievers, in Christ he is our Father, and his covenant promises to be God to us and our children are sure and true.
David Dickson gives the Biblical reasons for the teaching of this section:
1.) Because John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb. (Luke 1:15)
2.) Because the Prophet Jeremiah was sanctified from his mother's womb (Jeremiah 1:5)
3.) Because the promise is made to believing parents and to their children conjointly (Gen 17:7, Acts 2:39).
4.) Because of such, says Christ, is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 19:14)
5.) Because the apostle calls children which are descended but of one parent in covenant with God, holy (1 Cor. 7:14).
6.) Because God hath promised in the second commandment, that he will show mercy unto thousands that are descended of believing parents (Exo. 20:6).
In The Help, Celia buries her unborn children among the roses. We put our unborn child in the ground, too, near the flower garden. A seed is not given life unless it falls to the ground and dies. We have a sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead --and a body, born or unborn, young or old, is the seed planted in hope. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust....but with a sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.