What happens when a young child dies?
This was heavy on my heart after a miscarriage in 2003. I just knew it was a boy. I could feel it. But for reasons unknown, I was unable to carry the baby to term, and I lost him early in the pregnancy.
Wait … that’s not true. I did not lose him. I know exactly where he is, and I’ll share how I got to that comforting knowledge.
The Character of God
Because of the character of God described for us all throughout the Bible, I am convinced infants and young children go to Heaven when they die. We are told in Scripture God is merciful, slow to anger, full of compassion, and He does not judge unjustly — specifically children who don’t have the ability to understand any of that.
Surely there are some who would say the character of God should cover all the adults in remote places who have never heard the Gospel, but Romans 1 and Psalm 19 tell us there is no such thing as an adult who doesn’t have at least a general revelation about God. He has placed evidence in nature that surrounds us, cries out, and pours forth speech in order to testify to His existence — holding men and women accountable to knowing He exists.
But the little ones are different. Even though they see, they cannot understand language, reason or this evidence of God in nature.
Think back to the book of Deuteronomy, when the spies who went to check out the Promised Land (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) inspired the nation of Israel to disobey and not enter the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 1:39, Moses said regarding their children: “And as for your little ones who you said would become prey, and your children who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.”
So, the people who were at an age of understanding were held accountable for their unbelief, but the children were not.
While preaching to his own congregation, Charles Spurgeon consoled his parishioners who had recently buried a child by saying, “Now, let every mother and father here present know assuredly that it is well with the child.” *
The passing of a child is horrible enough, but when we have questions about his or her eternal destiny, that’s even more grievous. Granted, there may be others who take a different stance on the subject, but I settle my heart with the knowledge that we have an amazing, loving Father whose character alone tells us infants and small children who die go straight to be with Him.
* Charles H. Spurgeon, “Infant Salvation” A sermon preached September 29, 1861. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (London, 1861), p. 505.