Pope Consoles Parents Who Have Lost Children

In dealing with miscarriage or the death of a child, faith and Scripture offer tremendous comfort

It is a nightmare of any mother or father. The very thought of their own beloved children’s death is enough to strike a chord of panic in their hearts. There is no imaginable equivalent of suffering compared to the loss of a child.

It is unnatural and nearly unspeakable that parents would bury the very child they anticipated would escort them into their own old age. And yet, the veil of grief is worn by so many.

Rachel “embodies the pain of all mothers of all time, and the tears of every human being who cries for irreparable losses.”

This week, Pope Francis offered hope to those who are grieving inconsolably while simultaneously encouraging a spirit of gentleness and compassion for those who seek to comfort them. He referenced Jeremiah 31:15 and the tears of Rachel, who mourns her dead children.

The pope said Rachel “embodies the pain of all mothers of all time, and the tears of every human being who cries for irreparable losses.”

This prophecy in the story of Rachel foretells the slaughter by King Herod of all Jewish male children under the age of two years in his effort to annihilate the newborn King of the Jews.

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For parents who have suffered the death of a child, the pope compared the depth of pain in proportion to the amount of love for our children. How, then, can anyone hope to recover from such an irreparable loss? By holding to the promise of eternity offered by God through Jesus Christ.

The first human death recorded in the Bible is the murder of Abel, Adam and Eve’s second-born child. How excruciating it must have been for the first parents created by God to experience not only their son’s death, but his death at the hands of their other son.

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There is no replacement for a life lost. Even those children lost to parents through miscarriage have been known by the Creator.

May those who have suffered the loss of a life not yet born be comforted in knowing the unborn will never know pain or suffering. Instead, they will spend their eternal life in the arms of God, waiting to welcome their parents into heaven. There is purpose in their lives, regardless of brevity.

And for those who have held their newborn babies, watched them grow, and inexplicably and horrifically experienced their untimely deaths, God loves you. He knows your suffering and bears your grief. He has not forgotten you or your beloved child, no matter his or her age or the stage of life when it was cut short.

When Job suffered the loss of every possession he owned, his own health, and his 10 children, he responded humbly in Job 1:21 with, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

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In Job 42, we read of the restoration of Job. God gave to Job twice as much as he lost, double his livestock — and blessed him even more in the last half of his life than in the beginning. It is noted, though, that Job had 10 more children and not 20. Why? Because Job still had his first 10 children. They weren’t alive any longer, but they were still Job’s sons and daughters. They were not replaceable and would be reunited with Job upon his death. God doubled Job’s children by blessing him with 10 more.

As great as the pain on earth, as overwhelming as the despondence may be — there is the promise of life ever after with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4) when we enter into eternity with God.

There is no depth too great that He cannot reach you; no suffering too powerful that He cannot overcome. Come to Him with your burden, your heartache. Embrace the comfort that He freely gives, the assurance of the hope of eternity.

Katie Nations, married for 15 years, is a working mother of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

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