by J. Vernon McGee
Editor's Note: The following contemplation on the brevity but eternity of lives cut short in childhood will also carry a special meaning for those who sorrow for aborted babies.
At the death of my first-born, God gave me some words of comfort which I desire to pass on to parents and to loved ones of little ones who die. There is no sorrow quite so heart-rending as the death of a little child. The image of the little one is written so indelibly upon the mind and heart that during the long watches of the night it appears on memory's screen to haunt us. If the child lives long enough to walk and to talk, the faltering steps and childish prattle are like a lingering fragrance in the home that seems so strangely silent. The arms are empty, the eyes are filled with tears, ant the heart is like a vacant house. Yet, there is no affliction for which God has provided such tender comfort and such sweet solace. He is "the God of all comfort" (2 Cor. 1:3).
We sometimes feel that a life which was so brief was in vain and that God has mocked us by giving us the little one and then taking it away immediately. The child has no opportunity to perform a work, nor was there any time given to develop character. Let us remember, first of all, that the little one had an eternal spirit and that it has gone into the presence of God where there will be an eternity to perform works and develop character.
With eternity as a measuring rod, the long life of Methusalah was merely a pinpoint on the calendar of time. Although the span of life of your little one was brief, it completed a mission, served a purpose and performed a God-appointed task in this world. Its presence turned your thoughts to the best, its helplessness brought out your strength and protection, and its loveliness roused your tenderness and love. Its influence will linger in your heart as long as you live. If anything can bring a man to God, it is a child. "A little child shall lead them" is not idle rhetoric. We think of Methuselah in connection with old age, but did you ever consider him as an infant? Well, he was once a baby-and a most arresting thing is recorded about his birth. He was the son of Enoch, and it is written: "And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not: for God took him" (Gen. 5:21-24). We do not know what the life of Enoch was for the first sixty-five years, but when the day came that he looked down into a crib at a little boy named Methuselah, he began to walk with God. If Methuselah had died in his crib, he would have accomplished about as much as evidently he did in his long life.
Your little one served its purpose. A brief life is not an incomplete life.
Thru The Bible Newsletter
February, 1997, used by permission