Commentary - The Ultimate Loss

Profound sadness is the deep emotion one feels when we learn of the death of a child of tender years. It is an emotion that once gripped me strongly, when I learned of the death of two children, ages nine and twelve, a little boy and a girl having fun in the snow, sledding and doing what kids do until—they fell through the ice in a pond and drowned. One was pronounced dead at the scene and the other died a little later in the hospital, as efforts to resuscitate failed.

hands releasing a dove

The ultimate loss, young lives cut off in a moment, leaving so much undone, leaves such a hole in the lives of the parents, grandparents and loved ones.

Then, while processing the enormity of this tragedy for that family, another tragic, untimely death occurred closer to home, in my own community. A five-year-old child was mauled and killed by two pit bull dogs in a horrible incident. The emotion, the loss, and the litigation for that family will go on for years.

Similar scenes of loss and grief are probably playing out where you live. It seems to be a part of the human condition.

Why? How could a just God allow these things to happen? The true answer is the only genuine comfort available to those who suffer such losses.

When sin entered the world, the curse that it brings came with it, including death, beginning with righteous Abel, slain by his brother Cain. The Bible is filled with accounts of suffering down through the ages, as mankind rejected God’s ways, and that rejection in turn cut them off from Him.

King Solomon understood this when he wrote, “But time and chance happen to them all… so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9:11–12). And, in the book of Hebrews, Paul explained that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

In the book of Revelation, chapter 20, the Apostle John describes the resurrection of the just, the resurrection of the “rest of the dead,” and the resurrection to judgment. The first resurrection he describes (vv. 4–5) occurs at Christ’s return and is for the saints of God who have died in the faith (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).

The second group John describes (Revelation 20:5) are those who live again after the thousand years are ended. They are raised up to physical life to have a chance to live out their lives without the evil influence of Satan and with an understanding of the Creator’s plan for mankind. This is the resurrection that infants and children who are cut off in this life by untimely death will enjoy. This resurrection will include all those who never had an opportunity to understand God’s plan of salvation in this life.

The final resurrection (vv. 14–15) will be for the judgment of those incorrigibly wicked people who knowingly reject God’s plan and way of life. You can read about them in Revelation 21:8. They will be burned up in the lake of fire, which is the second death. This is the ultimate loss, from which there is no return.

So, while we grieve and mourn the loss of loved ones, especially young children, we can take comfort that God, in His mercy, has provided a way for them to have their opportunity to live out their physical lives in peace and safety, and to accept or reject His Way of life. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:18: “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

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