Near the top of the most miserable of all human experiences is to suffer the death of a child. Every parent I know would trade places in a minute. All family deaths hurt, but to see a young life cut short just tears your heart out. Have you ever attended a funeral with a little casket?
Jesus Christ alone can give assurance to bereaved parents that there can be a second act. Children can be believers too—in fact, Jesus told his hearers on several occasions that children were not only capable of saving faith; they were models of saving faith whom grown-ups should emulate. Through Word and Baptism, God’s grace can touch even very tiny lives and wash them clean enough for heaven.
The blessed biographer St. Luke recorded a story from the life of Christ that will forever encourage believing parents who are grieving this worst of life’s tragedies. A 12-year-old girl had died in her home, and her lifeless body was laid out in shock and sadness. People gathered to help grieve, and they set up a supportive racket: “All the people were wailing and mourning for her. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said. ‘She is not dead but asleep’” (Luke 8:52).
If I said that, you could be skeptical. Since Jesus said that, we can lay our children’s bodies to rest in the confident expectation of resurrection to life eternal. He spoke words of life, and the girl sat up.
He will do it again on a grand scale.