When a child dies the thought that runs through my mind is that things are out of order. I have walked with parents as they have buried children ranging in age from a-few-hours-old up to 64 years old. No matter the age of a child, they are still our children. And things just seem out of order.
Today, we are going to celebrate the life of 2-year-old Jolee who, just last Friday, ran to Jesus. Her parents, Justin and Jenn Landrum, are people of faith who trust and hope in God. In fact, I have personally been encouraged by their faith. Yet now they join a long procession of people who have lain to rest a child. Again, I protest to God: “This is out of order!”
How often have you felt like something in your life had gotten out of order? We can find ourselves saying things such as: “It just wasn’t supposed to be this way,” or, “I never expected that…(you fill in the blank)”. Yet we trust in God.
Then sometimes, at least for me, it is not so much that the circumstances are out of order but rather my perspective. Let me be quick to say that in no way do I think that mere words will assuage the aguish of a parent’s loss. Through obedient suffering we learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.
There is an important lesson that I learned from King David about how to respond when things may not be what I expected them to be. During hard or confusing times this story about how King David responded to the death of his child has helped me more than all of the well-meaning words from friends and loved ones.
Here is the story as told in 1 Samuel: After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
So far the reaction of David and the discussion among his servants seem predictable, even understandable. Read on: David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
“Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.” Now we didn’t expect that reaction! David’s reaction to his child dying seems really backwards…even confusing. Read on…
His servants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? (good question) While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” 1 Samuel 12:21-23
One day everything will be made right. And today I/we will worship God.
Here is some more information about Jolee and her family: Jolee Bella Landrum, Thursday, September 22, 2011 – Friday, September 27, 2013. Jolee Bella Landrum, age 2, of Clermont ran to Jesus on Friday, September 27, 2013. She was born September 22, 2011 in Clermont daughter of Jennifer Marie Prevatt Landrum & Justin Stuart Landrum. In addition to her parents she is survived by her sister Jayda Lynn; maternal grandparents Teri Prevatt, Leesburg, Cindy Prevatt, Clermont & Sam Prevatt, Eustis; paternal grandparent Vicki Langdon & great-grandparent Helen Huber both of Delray Beach & maternal great-grandparents Judy & Don Chadwick, Grand Island, FL; & loving aunts, uncles & cousins. (Becker Funeral Home)