"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 spent the nights lying in sackcloth 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 attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.” David noticed that his attendants 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. His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? 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.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” II Samuel 12:15-23
The Psalms have been a source of comfort and strength for countless believers for thousands of years and there is a good reason. In the Psalms you have the total gamut of emotions from unbearable pain to unbelievable pleasure. No matter what life circumstance you are experiencing you can find a Psalm or two that will identify with your pain and offer real comfort and wisdom. In otherwords, the Psalms are filled with hope!
King David was able to identify so well with all these emotions because had known everything that life can bring to a king with all its privilege and perks but also the struggles of being a shepherd - and everything in between.
Here, though he has to bear the most unthinkable agony any parent can imagine. The loss of a child. In this case it is the loss of a newborn son just a week old. His reaction to the loss of his child is quite interesting and insightful. For nearly a week, King David fasted and poured out his heart to God interceeding for the life of his child. But, the child did not survive. The illness he had contracted proved to be fatal.
David's servants were afraid to bear the dreadful news to the King that his child had died. However, he surmised from their behavior that the news was bad. Once he realized his son was gone, he reacted in a curious manner. He ended his fast, ceased his praying, cleaned himself up and ate a good meal.
Why did David do this? What was he thinking?
Prior to the death of his child, David was hoping that his child would survive this illness and be restored to health. David was aware that the child had become ill because God had stricken the child to punish David for his grievous sins of adultery and murder. He had hoped the child would have to bear the judgment for his sins. But despite his desparate petitons to God, the child passed away. So, David shifted into a new mode. He went from hoping to having hope. His hope was in the Lord's grace and goodness. David knew the child was with the Lord and there was nothing more he could do. So, the prayers ceased and the praising began! He stopped hoping and clung to hope.
Later today I will be holding a memorial service for a couple who just lost their newborn twin sons. The little guys were born late last at twenty-weeks into their development. They lived for about 20 minutes and died in their parent's arms. This had been a troubled pregnancy for the whole period leading up to their premature bithday. These precious young people, like David, had been hoping their babies would defy the odds and survive. But they did not. And now they have to switch from hoping to hope. I will hope to help them with that process. I am asking God to direct me to Scriptures and give me words that will help them grab ahold of hope again. They have the hope that David had that they will see their boys again.
In the meantime they can rejoice in the hope that their little boys will never know anything other than the face of Jesus! These tiny fellows will never behold anything other than the glory of God! The only home they will ever know is the mansion Jesus has prepared for them! They will know nothing of pain or pollution or political corruption or poverty or plagues - only peace and perfection in the presence of God!
Do you possess that hope that sustains you even when what you are hoping doesn't happen? Can you trust the heart of God even when you cannot trace His hand?
David did! You can! I pray these parents will.