Psalm 127:3 states, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” Growing up, I heard this verse all the time. It’s usually painted on nursery walls, quoted in sermons about the importance of being pro-life, and used to encourage Christians to be open to as many children as the Lord wants to give them. All of those things are good and have their place in our churches. However, somehow as I grew up, I began to believe that this verse and others like it meant that if you were a faithful follower of Christ, you would have no problem having children. I thought that if a family had several kids that they were very close to God because God was obviously blessing them. So when my daughter died in my womb, my first thought was, “Why did God take away my blessing? What did I do wrong?”
I believed that surely I must have made God angry for Him to take my child away. If children were a reward, then taking children must be a punishment. I thought long and hard about any sins that I had failed to confess, trying to find the cause for such an indictment from God. But while I am most definitely a sinner in need of Jesus, I couldn’t think of any blaring reason for God to take my daughter. So then I had to wonder, what if this isn’t cause and effect? What if God isn’t punishing me? There is a story in John 9 that deals with this question. The disciples see a blind man and ask Jesus, “Who sinned to make this man blind, him or his parents?” In verse 3, Jesus says. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned...but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Did you catch that? Neither one. That man was born blind so that God could receive glory when Jesus healed him. The point of the story is that we cannot attribute all bad things (sickness, death, infertility, etc.) to a specific sin of a specific person; it’s not a simple cause and effect.
So I began to understand that Hope’s death was not a punishment; losing her did not mean that He was angry with me or that I was less godly than the families with many children. But I still didn’t understand why my ‘blessing’, my daughter, was taken away. Then one day it dawned on me. While the Bible does say that children are blessings, it does not say that they are the only blessing. There are many other kinds of blessings, and many of them are the opposite of what we would expect. In Matthew 5:3-4, Jesus Himself says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The passage goes on to include the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, etc. Jesus flips everything around; our culture thinks blessings look like big houses, large savings accounts, perfect families, healthy bodies, etc. but Jesus says that those who mourn (including all of us bereaved mamas and daddies) are truly blessed.
Now, does this mean that I walk around saying I am so blessed because my daughter is dead? No, of course not. But it helped my mind to understand that when other people’s lives seem to be full of blessings and mine does not, I can remember that God has not forgotten me. He has given me many different kinds of blessings, some that are easy to see and some that are much harder to comprehend. While having a big family is a blessing, it is not the only blessing. That family that has been trying to have kids for 7 years with no success? God says they are also blessed. That family who lost a baby minutes after birth? God says they are also blessed. And God looks at me, with three babies in heaven and two on earth, and He calls me blessed. So on the days when I begin to grumble and complain and compare, I pray that I will look to Jesus and remember that He faced the utmost suffering and pain for me; He gave up all the comforts and blessings of heaven to suffer and die for His people. Through Him, my sufferings and weaknesses and grief turn into blessings in heaven. Because of Christ, I can wholeheartedly proclaim, “I am truly blessed.”