How God Uses Suffering For Our Good
While we cannot know all of the specific purposes God will accomplish through the death of our child, the Bible provides us with a description of how God will use our suffering for our good and to His glory. Among other means by which God might bring himself glory through are the following four:
As clearly seen in the story of the man born blind and recounted in John chapter 9, God accomplished multiple purposes through the man’s blindness. Similarly, in the death of our own child, God will accomplish multiple purposes. The number of variables involved in God’s calculations for determining the best results for us would surpass the computing ability of the world’s most powerful computers. Paul may have caught a glimpse of God’s unfathomable wisdom when He wrote, “How unsearchable are your judgements, and your paths beyond tracing out.” Romans 11:33.
For that reason, we should never feel like we have arrived at understanding all of the purposes that God has accomplished. It would be highly presumptuous of us to think we know all of the meanings related to our child’s death when we lack the omnipotence to fully understand how God uses human events to achieve his purposes.
Since God is the one to set and accomplish His purposes, we ought to approach the question of purpose with great humility and without any presumptions whatsoever. We should never presume that we know, for certain, the relative importance of human events, or that we know what God has done through particular human events. As demonstrated in the Bible, God can use a number of life events, some great and some small, to achieve his purposes. We ought never deem any events in our lives as insignificant, nor should we deem the lives of “the least of these” as insignificant. Following the death of our child, we should not judge our child’s eternal significance by such cosmetic factors as lifespan, career accomplishments, or community contributions. We don’t know everything that God has accomplished through our now-deceased child.
Lorraine Boettner says, “Clearly, accomplishment in life cannot be measured in terms of years alone. It often happens that those that die young have accomplished more than others who live to old age. Even infants, who sometimes have been with their parents only a few days, or even hours, may leave profound influences that change the entire course of the life of the family. And undoubtedly, from the Divine viewpoint, the specific purpose for which they were sent into the world was accomplished. It is our right to neither to end life prematurely, or to insist on its extension beyond the mark that God has set for it.” Lorraine Boettner, Immortality (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1975).
Once we begin to see how the death of our child has changed our own lives, we can begin to imagine how he or she has also impacted others. Maybe your child’s death has impacted others to a greater extent then you even imagine. But based upon what you know of your child’s legacy in your own life, we might begin to imagine what eternal purposes were accomplished by God that we didn’t even see, in our life and in other lives, both in our generation and future generations. In a funeral sermon given for an infant boy who lived only ten minutes, Pastor John Piper noted, “God's designs for [the boy] were decided before he was born. He would exist for the glory of God. Ten minutes of that work was on the earth. The rest will be in heaven. None of us can even begin to estimate the magnitude of either. Who knows what has been set in motion on earth by the birth and death and life of [your child]. It would be wild and unwarranted folly to think he has not changed the world.” John Piper, Funeral Meditation for Owen Glenn Shramek, October 23, 2003, www.desiringgod.org
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