I recall an incident when my first daughter was born that still gives me the chills. It was the middle of the night—of course—her first night. And there is no place on earth that is colder, more uncomfortable or more forlorn in than a hospital in the middle of third shift. (Even in the maternity ward) My wife was sleeping soundly and I was exhausted but awake having drawn the night shift. No explanation needed there. About two or three in the morning the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight on end and so did I. A sound woke me that I hope never to hear again. Here’s what I mean:
Thus says the LORD,
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
She refuses to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”
A child had died in the night and the mother refused to be comforted. As near as I can tell she kept up that crying until she passed out or was sedated. A terrible thing…
Why even bring it up then if it was so terrible? I think it’s important. We focus so much on “Every good and perfect gift comes from God” [James 1:12 – 18 (NASB)] that we miss out on the fact that that verse if found in the middle of a passage dealing with the trial of our faith. Every blessing we readily accept as providence every disaster avoided. But will we accept tragedy as well from the Master’s hand? I for one am not interested in being tested in this regard—I suspect I am not alone. And who would? Not many can just sit praising God all the while scraping themselves with a potshard. Job 13:15 (NASB) “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him…” Is that our idea, our concept of our relationship with God?
The point in even discussing such a horrible possibility is this: we don’t accept both good and bad. We don’t want to “blame God” for the bad things but who are we to say they are bad? Who are we to say the good things are good? We are not capable of judging events until long after they are past. God sees. God knows. He is able not only to know now what is happening but He knew before any of this began—beginning, middle, end and beyond. Especially when it comes to our children.
Here, then, is the biggest clue that we are not people who take Christ as Lord, we Southern Baptists who work so hard to look so good. We have kept back our own children from the Lord.
Think about it before you pop a gasket.
Are we giving our children to the Lord? Are we placing their salvation in His hands or are we trying to effect it on our own?
One of the main reasons, I think, for the down turn in the morals and character of youth in American churches is the simple fact that they are brutally honest about things, salvation included. They can see through a falsehood quicker than you and I because they have been saturated with them from birth. Any media brings commercials that want their money. They have been resisting and learning to resist extremely good sales pitches for most of their lives. They know a sales pitch when they see it.
A second reason is that they know what their own decisions are worth. I remember when I was that age. Junior High and High School—indecision and moral drift were the norm and I knew that I could decide not to do something and be doing it the next day. Based upon my decision, my own salvation wasn’t very effective. I still did things I wasn’t supposed to do—you know, sinning. Further, I watched Christian grownups all around me struggle with the same types of things. What good was my first decision, a second decision (rededication) or even a third? What good does it do if there is no regeneration? Merely convincing someone that they are saved does no good at all unless they have actually been changed.
And its not just the youth, its all children and this is the main reason that providence is not taught: one of the conclusions you must make about the way things work is that election is true. Immediately the next question is—that is if you’re a good Baptist what about babies? Are you saying God sends babies to hell?
Rachel weeping for her children—would she have had more comfort, I wonder, had she placed them in God’s care? If the burden was on His able shoulders and not hers, would she be so broken? But don’t blame Rachel’s brittle state upon Her, blame the church for calling children to the altar. Blame the church for Baptizing them as if they knew to what they were committing. They don’t, they can’t possibly. But that’s the point. God doesn’t send babies to hell anymore than a man can send himself there. We must understand, if for no other reason than our sanity as those called to preach the gospel, that these things come to pass because of what God has decided, not our puny actions.