Ten years ago, my first wife gave birth to my first child. He was born with a rare deformity in his heart. When he was three months old, he had surgery and died on the operating table.
A few days before that, I made a short pilgrimage… and entered the church on my knees, with my son in my arms. I suffer from bad knees, so the pain was unbearable. I cried from the physical pain and from the pain in my heart at the thought of losing what I loved most in the world. I begged God to punish me for my sins, but to let my son live, and that did not happen. I humbled myself before God, and I got nothing. I believe that, when my baby died, I divorced God as well as my wife…. How can I keep from blaming God for what happened to my son?
We are so very sorry for your loss! Most of us cannot possibly understand the way you must have felt. The death of a child is one of life’s worst tragedies, and you are certainly not the first person to blame God.
When you made your pilgrimage to the church with your son in your arms, humbling yourself as you describe, you assumed that God wanted to see you desperate and broken. When you walked into the church on your knees, you assumed that your intense pain would please God and cause Him to pay attention to you. When you asked God to punish you instead of your son, you assumed that the child’s impending death would be punishment for your sins. And when your son died, you assumed it was God’s wish.
However, according to the Bible, none of your assumptions are correct. The Apostle Paul says that all of us have sinned,1 so yes, you have sinned and so have we. Paul also says, “The wages of sin is death”, so yes, every one of us deserves death. But Paul does not stop there. He goes on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”2 So even though we have all sinned and deserve death, Jesus Christ died in our place. He took our punishment. When we accept the gift of salvation, we obtain eternal life instead of punishment. All we have to do is be sorry for our sins and ask for forgiveness.
God does not want us to be punished. On the contrary, He sacrificed His Son so that we could avoid the punishment. So when we inflict intentional pain on ourselves, trying to get God’s attention or forgiveness, it is as if we are saying, “Your pain, Lord Jesus, was not enough. I have to do this myself.”
Your child didn’t die because it was God’s wish or because of your sins. He died because he had a heart defect. His heart was not strong enough to keep him alive. Be assured that God understands the pain that you feel, for He also saw His own Son die.
We wish you well,
1 Ro 3:23
2 Ro 6:23