In the Bible we read that God is the author and giver of life (Psalm 36:9, Col 1:17, 1 Cor 8:6, Psalm 119), so every person regardless of age is ultimately sustained by God’s grace.
Every day is a gift from God, and we should be thankful for the gift of life that we have and especially for the little ones we love so dearly. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23). Every time we wake up… it is a gift from God.
If I understand the question correctly, we’re really trying understand whether God ever allows (or perhaps even orchestrates) the death of a child? That is an excellent and important question…
There are not many times in scripture where we find God purposely choosing to take a child home. There are certainly many accounts of children who died, but they were usually victims of war, political edicts, poverty and famine. There is however one clear account of a time that God did decide that a child would die, and it is found in the story of David and Bathsheba.
Because of his sin, David was told that the baby Bathsheba would bear would die soon after birth (see 2 Samuel 12:1-25)… and just as the Lord said, the little one died 7 days after he was born.
Another example where a child almost died was when Abraham was tested by God and was told to sacrifice his own son, Isaac… but right before he went through with it God appeared to him and said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy, Do not do anything to him! Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (see Genesis 22). God never actually intended for Isaac to die, but used that as a test of Abraham’s faith. Obviously Abraham struggled with the thought of having to sacrifice his own son, but “he reasoned that God could even raise the dead” (Heb 11:19). He was absolutely certain that no matter what, God would fulfill his promise to make Isaac into a great nation even if it meant raising him from the dead!
*Note here the striking similarity in this story compared to when God ultimately did sacrifice his one and only son, Jesus, who was also raised from the dead!
What God was most concerned with in this event was whether Abraham loved his son more than God. God wants (and deserves) to be our first love – our number one. It is true that my wife and children are the most important people in my life… but they ultimately can not fulfill me.
Only God can fulfill the deepest depths of my soul. And when Christ reigns supreme in our life, we begin to be transformed into his likeness – his love, patience, mercy and goodness begin to take ahold of our lives and the fruit that is born of this is a captivating love that overflows into our relationships with our spouse and children.
Making God number one in our lives is the most loving thing we can do for our families.
Now going back to the question of whether God could take our children at anytime, technically the answer is yes… However, all throughout scripture we see that God is loving, compassionate, and merciful (John 3:16, Gal 2:20, Eph 2:4-5, etc). We can trust him not only with our lives, but also with our children’s lives! It was Jesus who said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt 19:14). Jesus also went out of his way to raise a young girl back to life (Mark 5:21-43)!
Children have a very special place in God’s heart and we can trust that regardless of what happens, they are ultimately safe in his care. We don’t have to fear that he is going to pick one of them off – that would be a God to be afraid of! But the God revealed to us in scripture, the one True God, is not like that all.
Now the reality is that sometimes little children do die… and it is probably the most painful thing a parent could ever endure. I can only imagine… Yet even in this moment we can be confident that God is still good and that he never let that little child fall from his loving care.
Going back to the account of David and Bathsheba, once the child died David acted quite a bit different than what everyone expected. Everyone thought he would be distraught and inconsolable… but he wasn’t. Here’s what he told everyone who was wonder why he wasn’t a broken man:
David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”
That last sentence is incredibly important. This is one of the key verses that supports our understanding that infants and young children are safe with God even if they die before being able to make a decision to follow Jesus. David knew that one day he would see his little boy again and although it was painful… he knew that his hope was well founded and that God was still trustworthy. If we look at it from a Kingdom perspective, there was never a moment that God wasn’t caring for David’s little one. The moment he died he was whisked into the loving arms of his Creator.
Yes, God does hold the lives of your children in his hands… but I assure you that that is safest place your children could ever be.