“On the seventh day the child died …”

As a father and grandfather I cannot think of anything more devastating than the death of a child. When I was 13 years old, my 11 year old brother, Bobby, died after a 6 year battle with leukemia. I will never forget the day word came that my brother had died. That day, those words and the days following will forever be engraved in my mind. Yet my experience was minor compared to that of my parents. I watched as that event changed the course of all of our lives, forever!

This July (2017) it will be 44 years since our family suffered through those tragic days, and yet, we all eventually were able to move on living our lives.

A few years ago a young boy in our community tragically lost his life when a tree limb fell during a church picnic and hit him. Seemingly random and very tragic. The family are friends of ours and today they are living very productive lives in spite of the tragic events of a few years ago.

Just this past weekend my cousin’s 8 year old grandson tragically lost his life in an accident. They, obviously, are just in the beginning stages of a long process of grief and recovery that will leave their lives impacted forever.

These are tragic events that take place everyday in someone’s life. So how do we get through this?

The words in our title today are found in 2 Samuel 12:18. King David has been praying for his child who was sick. The child, after 7 days, died. What took place next gives us great insight into how to face the death of a child.

It is understood that there is to be a grieving period and a time of deep sorrow. That is perfectly normal. Remember in John 11:32-35, Jesus is with Mary the sister of Lazarus after Lazarus had died and when He saw Mary weeping, He also wept (John 11:35). Grief is normal and is a part of the healing process. There is nothing wrong with weeping, hurting, and even questioning why (Mary did and Jesus comforted her). We need to be reminded to let the grieving period take place. Healing will not come without this time of severe grief. We also need to be reminded that after the grieving period is over, life can move forward with joy, happiness and purpose. So how do we move forward?

This is what King David did:

1. David did not do anything foolish – 2 Samuel 12:18-20

Quite often when we are in a state of severe grief we tend to “not think straight.” Perfectly normal. However, this is not the time to be making life changing decisions. We need to give ourself a chance to grieve before we begin to focus on how to move forward. Friends and family can help us stay “centered” during this time if we let them. In John 11 when Lazarus died, Mary & Martha had many friends who came to comfort them. (John 11:18-19)

2. David stayed true to God – 2 Samuel 12:20

When life throws us a severe curve, we have a tendency to blame God, at least I do. However, once I re-focus and begin to think clearly again, I realize the one who loves me the most is God. He controls everything, including, the life changing event that I just encountered, and He always has a higher purpose for what has happened. I must trust this or I will lose my mind. God is the only stable thing in life. Everything else fails. (Romans 8:28; Philippians 2:13)

3. David accepted reality – 2 Samuel 12:21-23

David came to grips with the fact that his child could not be brought back. He was still alive and had to continuing living. This is not possible unless he accepts reality. While this may be the hardest part of moving forward, it is necessary. The next step will help us tremendously to accept reality.

4. David focused his mind on eternity, not the present – 2 Samuel 12:22-23

David knew, because he believed in and followed God, that while his child could not be brought back to him now, he would see him again one day in eternity. He focused on his child in Heaven with God enjoying all the pleasures of being with God, knowing, that he would be there with him one day! This is how we move forward. Death is not goodbye. Death, to a believer, is “SEE YOU SOON!” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 – we have hope!)

5. Finally, David realigned his life to focus on those who were still with him – 2 Samuel 12:24-25

One of the hardest things to do when facing a tragedy, like the death of a child, is to remember there are others who are still here that need us. I remember, so vividly, the grief my mom and dad went through after the death of my brother. But I also remember the relief when they passed from severe grief to re-focusing on life. There were still 5 boys that needed them. I am so glad that my parents were able to trust God, accept reality and re-focus on life because I am here writing this to you today because they did.

My dear friend, in no way am I trying to minimize the unbelievable heartache of losing a child. I am, however, trying to give hope that life can and should move forward because God still has a plan for our lives as long as we are breathing.

Take time to grieve, do not ignore or think something is wrong with you because of the grief you are feeling. You must give yourself time to go through this. But realize that God will bring comfort and life will go on. Hold on to that hope as you navigate the grieving process. There will be joy, both now and when we see our loved ones again in Heaven!