The images from Oklahoma continue to grip us. A mother sees her child alive for the first time. Desperate parents wait for news of their children’s fate. Survivors sift through the wreckage of their homes and lives. One said, “You work 20 years, and then it’s gone in 15 minutes.” The tornado has been described as a lawn-mower blade spanning two miles, shredding everything in its path. Five schools were hit; ten children were killed. Some were drowned where they sought shelter in a basement.
As we watched the news coverage, many of us asked faith’s hardest questions: Why did God allow such a tragedy? Why didn’t he prevent it, or at least shelter these innocent, helpless children? What do we do now? And the question we’ll address today: What happened to the children when they died?
Yesterday I wrote a longer essay exploring four answers to this difficult question—I hope it will be helpful to you. To summarize my position: Children who die before they are able to understand and respond to the gospel are with God in heaven. Jesus said of little children, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). He told his disciples, “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).
I believe our names are written in God’s “book of life” from the moment of our conception, and that he blots them out only when we have “sinned” against him (Exodus 32:32-33). The sin that leads to such judgment is our rejection of salvation through Christ, for the “righteousness of God comes through faith in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22). If a child has not yet reached the maturity to make this faith decision, he or she has not “sinned” in this sense and is still recorded in the “book of life.”
This is why David could say of his deceased newborn son, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23). He believed that his child was with the Lord and that he would join him one day “in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
What are your thoughts on this difficult issue? Consider this fact: While we have grieved the loss of ten children in Moore, 7,123 children under the age of five will die today of starvation. More than 126,000 babies will be aborted today. God grieves for every one and wants us to care for children as he does.
Oklahoma state Rep. Mark McBride is calling for legislation to build storm shelters in schools. “The children are sacred. We need to protect these kids,” he said.
Do you agree?